Massachusets Institute of Technology
Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning

Fall 2023 Seminar on



Lunch Speaker Series

Associated Class

Associated Symposium

Fall 2023, Sept-Dec Monday's, 12-2PM Thursdays, 2h30-4PM 9-10, 13 November 2023

Local Index: NEXT EVENTS; Introduction; A timely offer; Moderators; Dates, Schedule & Location; Participation & Fees; Topics; Science Committee; Book ; Links; REGISTER

Welcome to MIT-DUSP Fall term 2023 e-Planning Seminar

updt: 13 November 2023

ICPPIT23, Nov 10

Message to ICPPIT23 from the National Secretary for Social Consultation, Ministry of Presidency, Government of Brasil

Renato Simões

MIT-DUSP "City Arena", 9h00 AM

ICPPIT23, Nov 13

Message to ICPPIT23 from the President of the National Association of Municipal Assemblies of Portugal

Albino Almeida

MIT-DUSP 9.217, 5h30 PM


The Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) at MIT is offering this fall 2023, an e-Planning seminar with 3 components: A Speaker Series ("Urban Science and Digital Transition: e-Planning: twenty years later"), associated with a Joint undergrad / graduate for-credit course ("e-Planning, Urban Science & Digital Transition"), and linked to an international symposium (ICPPT23), to (re)examine the impact of information technologies on community life and governance, anticipate the implications for urban futures, and debate relevant DUSP strategies for the next twenty years.

Each of these components has its dedicated page, linked above, where you will find further details. In this welcome page, you wil find the common rationale for this offer and the core information on its structure.

During the past few decades, significant changes in how we design, analyze, debate, and implement urban futures have been driven by the adoption and use of emerging information and communication technologies (ICT).

It is now a mainstream view that the new technologies enable more efficient delivery of urban services, broader public participation, more empowerment of diverse constituencies, and improved government transparency. Yet social inequality and wealth concentration have worsened, action on climate integrity is meager, and trends in who collects and controls the vast amounts of new data risks privatizing public goods, increasing surveillance, and threatening democratic governance. ICT-driven disruption is continuing and it is an opportune time to reflect on how research about this digital transition that can better address DUSP’s strategic priorities: achieving Racial Justice, Enhancing Multi-Racial Democratic Governance, Achieving Climate Integrity, and Closing the Wealth Gap.

A timely offer

In 2003, MIT's DUSP offered the first e-Planning Seminar. Its rationale emerged from the need to study in-depth the impacts of a new generation of information and communication technologies (ICT) on urban planning and local governance. The intent was to improve our multi-disciplinary understanding of ICT-driven changes in our daily lives and the ways in which we construct and regulate our communities. These interests were reflected in formulating the original research agenda:
e-infrastructures, e-government, e-governance, e-city & territory, e-citizenship.

20 years later, the concept of e-Planning has matured. At MIT-DUSP, the cross-disciplinary PhD area "Planning Support Systems" in the 1990's became "Urban Information Systems". More recently, DUSP worked with MIT's computer science department to construct an "urban planning with computer science undergraduate" degree. This "urban science" initiative was a precursor to the new multi-disciplinary MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. In Portugal, it gave birth to a Joint PhD Program on e-Planning offered by 4 Universities, within an e-Planning Consortium ( that included other countries such as Brasil.

The post-covid world has highlighted the centrality of a Digital Transition Agenda. This implies we understand not only the "Digital" facet, but also the "Transition" itself. In other words, besides the engineering and "hard" science of technology, we need also social sciences and humanities to understand both where we stand, and where the transition will lead us.

Technology, with its malleability and ubiquitous presence, favors dissemination, accessibility, participation, and empowerment. Yet, social inequalities are increasing and imbalances in society's relationship with nature are accentuated, even putting the sustainability of human life at risk. Today, we have evidence of more and more serious abuses of this ubiquity, side by side with its benefits (and the covid-19 crisis is no exception). UN Strategic Report on Technology states: "New and rapidly developing technologies... hold incredible promise for advancement of human welfare. They also hold the potential to generate more inequality and more violence" (UN General Secretary Guterres, 2018). So what makes the difference?

A unique opportunity

We are especially interested in engaging a young generation, faculty and students, that can greatly benefit from this legacy - 20 years of the e-Planning approach.

The Fall 2023 seminar and symposium will complement current DUSP undergrad / graduate classes. Our current computer-related offerings tend to focus on technical and analytic skill-building, or on critiques of technical approaches due to data limitations, misinterpretations, and algorithmic biases. The proposed events will complement these activities by emphasizing the politics of technology-driven disruption and examining multi-disciplinary perspectives on the community planning and local governance implications of the ongoing digital transition.

To make the most from this 20th anniversary opportunity, Dr. Pedro Ferraz de Abreu has agreed to join us on the MIT campus for this Fall (September through December) as a Visiting Scholar. He will take the lead in organizing the seminar series and symposium.

He is well-positioned to undertake this role. Not only is he a DUSP alum, but also, after organizing the earlier 2003 Symposium, together with Prof. Joseph Ferreira Jr., Dr. Ferraz de Abreu joined the faculty of Portuguese universities and was the principal organizer of what has become a cross-university ‘e-Planning’ graduate program. This program collaborated with other European universities and Portuguese-speaking universities in Brazil and Africa and brought PhD students to Portugal to work with Portuguese students.

Much of their research has focused on the multi-disciplinary study of how information technology can be used to improve the everyday lives and governance of less advantaged communities. Engaging with Dr. Pedro Ferraz de Abreu and his colleagues through the Fall 2023 seminar and symposium will enrich DUSP’s discussion of the social justice and local political implications of digital technologies within international development settings.

The Fall 2023 Seminar, led by their original creators (Prof. Ferreira & Ferraz de Abreu) will be a good opportunity to reflect on our framing of e-Planning issues two decades ago and engage a cross-section of our community in further discussion about next steps in the digital transformation of urban planning and local governance, social inequality and participatory planning.

[for more in-depth discussion, see "e-Planning Research Questions Revisited", on Speaker Series page.]


Joseph Ferreira Jr., MIT - DUSP, USA (
Pedro Ferraz de Abreu, Universidade de Lisboa, MIT Visiting Scholar (

Dates, Schedule, Location:

MIT, DUSP, Cambridge, 77 Massachusetts Av., MA, USA

1) 3 October - 11 December 2023
DUSP Seminar Speaker Series on "Urban Science & Digital Transition: e-Planning twenty years later", bi-weekly sessions, 1.5h, as a "lunch guest speaker series" with MIT faculty discussants;

2) 14 September - 14 December 2023
DUSP course "e-Planning, Urban Science and Digital Transition", joint undergrad + graduate 3-credit subject, 1.5 hr / week.

3) 9-10 November 2023
Symposium - International Conference on "Public Participation & Information Technologies" (ICPPIT23), DUSP international symposium co-organized with CITIDEP - Research Center on Information Technologies and Participatory Democracy;

Participation & Fees:

- Registration is required for all participants;

- Open for MIT students, faculty & fellows: no fee. [For registration, go to respective event page, or email moderators]

- Fee-based participation for external participants, by invitation.

Interested prospective participants may contact Seminar / Symposium moderators (,

Foreign participants may have different VISA requirements, including some institutional invitation letter. Be advised that both MIT and VISA processing takes time.

Seminar & Classes & Symposium Topics

(dates for session topics to be confirmed)
ICT - Information and Communication Technologies

* Note: The Speaker Series, the International Symposium ICPPIT23, and Subject classes, each one will address a sub-set of these topics. Check each page for updated information on specific program.

Science Committee for Seminar Speaker Series and Symposium

Book on "e-Planning":

Based on recommendations from the Scientific Committee, Speakers for the "e-Planning" Speaker Series and the International Symposium will be invited to contribute chapters to  a book, "e-Planning for Digital Transition - With No One Left Behind," edited by the e-Planning co-chairs.

Mirror sites:

  • (MIT)

  • (e-Planning Consortium)

  • First e-Planning Seminar 2003, at MIT
  • Past ICPPIT Conferences:
  • e-Planning Consortium

  • CITIDEP (Research Center on Information Technologies and Participatory Democracy):

  • e-Planning Seminar 2003 - ICPPIT03 - ICPPIT99 (slide show)