Transport, City Planning & Environmental Policy (RCS2)
Brendan Williams, Programme Director Transport, City Planning & Environmental PolicyOur approach to class and lecture-based activities is that we are trying to motivate and encourage students in a supportive learning environment. We expect the knowledge and the frameworks provided to be the starting point for the students' own learning, discovery and development.
The course modules have both a focus on technical and engineering subjects with UCD modules in areas of planning, environmental policy and management processes. This will create a good blend of subjects and will be adapted to the needs and the type of student we wish to educate.
This programme offers a unique blend of lecture, studio and independent study. It provides an understanding of the physical, social and economic aspects of transportation, city planning and managing the environment, and of the systems of government and organisations of society, which affect its condition. Emphasis is placed on the development of skills for identifying and analysing a variety of issues. Of added importance is the transferability of the skills, which will be developed during the programme. Along with the specialised knowledge areas of transport, city planning and environmental policy, this degree equips students with generic skills that will be valuable in many areas.
I believe the lecturers’ own strong motivation and interest can motivate students to learn in areas of urban development processes. As part of this process, I encourage students to reflect on their ongoing experiences of transport, housing and environmental issues to develop an understanding of first principles in terms of how such processes work. This helps and assists when covering process and policy areas. At the beginning of any teaching module, I make clear what the outcome is that we expect in students’ understanding of the subject area. From this evolves the types of approaches used with the aim of engaging students’ curiosity and to motivate their learning. Having discussed and developed first principles, policy approaches and processes, this provides a framework as to how processes work and the variety of theoretical and policy approaches.
It is essential that students take ownership of the learning process and develop independent insights into the issues under exploration. A key aspect of my teaching approach is the use of small group discussions within my classes with tasks and discussions presenting conflicting views and perspectives across the topic areas. This works especially well in integrating students in a learning process and achieving improved learning outcomes. In discussion of urban development, transport and planning processes using such small group analysis and experiences we have immediate access to several perspectives on the policy issue /debate. Both lecturer and students respect the shared learning culture which this approach develops.
At another level we frequently use short exercises on topical trends in urban development/economic issues to stimulate debate. Field trips are an essential component of urban development modules. These are vital for teaching urban issues and have the additional benefit of broadening students' outlook and generating class cohesion. We use a wide variety of assessment techniques dependent on the type of subject material and the mix of programme assessment loads. A general principle with all approaches is that any assessment should cover essential and core areas and allows students to demonstrate what they know rather than exposing gaps in their knowledge. We use traditional university exams, individual and shared assignments and oral presentations with the aim of developing independent insights along with ensuring good understanding.