Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Introduction to Emergency and Urban Development

Introduction to Emergency and Urban Development
First semester
Main language of instruction: English

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are available by appointment through email.



Mbongeni Ngulube

Dr Apen Ruiz


This is an introductory course to the content, specific vocabulary and bibliography of the Master. It aims to set up the base for the courses that will follow, in order to familiarise the students. The introductory sessions will be ranging from Emergency to urban development, going through the concepts of gender and finishing with development theory.


The course intends to give an overview of the main topics the students will encounter during the master such as: Humanitarian shelter and settlements; Urban regeneration and upgrading, and the theory of development. 

To introduce the challenges and debate around sustainable urbanism and upgrading strategies.

To introduce the concept design with culture as a key issue for sustainable development. To provide an overview of the main case studies and intervention strategies.

To gain a broad understanding of development theory and practice since inception and prior. To debate the nature and outcome of development practice.


  • 02 - That students may be capble of integrating knowledge and face the complexity of formulating their opinion from information which may be incomplete or limited, and that include reflections on the ethic and social responsibilities related to the area of cooperation and arquitecture in post disaster situations.
  • 10 - Be capable of developing a critical analysis through the selection of global urban developmpent criteria and relate them to local administrative models.
  • 13 - From a specialized standpoint, to be able to select the criteria for sustainable development solutions applied to planning projects at a territorial, regional and local scale.
  • 23 - To be albe to elaborate a critical analysis of development projects at all scales implemented by international cooperation agencies and local entities.

Learning outcomes

Students will understand the complex economic and social factors of urban upgrading towards a sustainable outcome.

Students will delve into the strategic value of cultural resources in order to reinforce local identity and community engagement.

Students will identify the opportunities for local development based on the cultural heritage, and will apply intervention strategies properly adjusted to the specific context.

Students will gain a critical stance toward apprehending development and related issues. Personal perspectives with theoretical support will be encouraged. The course will cover the basic protagonists in mainstream and critical development theory.


The course will cover these aspects:

1. Introduction to the concept of urban environmental and social justice

2. Understanding the main themes involved in urban upgrading in developing contexts.

3. Case studies and methodology for sustainable upgrading strategies.

4. Introduction to the concept design with culture

5. Cultural landscapes and regional development. Case studies and methodology

6. Cultural landscapes and governance. Social and political issues

7. Understanding development: A discussion on various definitions and formats using selected bibliography.

8. A simple history of development and some thought regarding what influenced the change(s).

9. Critical perspectives on development and current debates and speculations from selected contemporary bibliography

Teaching and learning activities

In person

 Lectures, text analysis, class discussions and writing sessions.

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

Participation is compulsory and will count toward the final mark. Learning these broad subjects is best accomplished through debate. The student will write an article review which, along with class participation, accounts for their final grade.

Bibliography and resources

Basic bibliography listed below, class material will be provided prior.


ALANEN, A. R. & MELNICK, R. Z. (eds.) (2000) Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

BRINKERHOFF, J. M. (2011). David and Goliath: Diaspora Organisations as Partners in the Development Industry. Public Admin. Dev. 31, 37-49.

ESCOBAR, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The making and unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

ESCOBAR, A., (2001). Culture sits in places: reflections on globalism and subaltern strategies of localization. Political Geography, (20), pp. 139-174.

FERNANDES, E. , (2011). Regularization of Informal Settlements in Latin America. Cambridge: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

HAYDEN, D. (1995) The Power of Place. Urban Landscapes as Public History, MIT Press, Cambridge.

JACKSON, J. B. (1984) Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. New Haven: Yale University Press.

LEYS, C. (2008). The Rise and Fall of Development Theory. In M. Edelman, & A. Haugerud (Eds.), The Anthropology of Development and Globalization:From Classical Political Economy to Contemporary Neoliberalism (pp. 109-125). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

MENDOZA ARROYO, C., Ngulube, M., & Colacios Parra, R. (Eds.). (2011). Reflections on Development and Cooperation. Barcelona: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya.

NGULUBE, M. (2011). Development and the Dependency Cycle: The [re]production of poverty in SubSaharan Africa. In

C. Mendoza Arroyo, M. Ngulube, & R. Colacios Parra (Eds.), Reflections on Development and Cooperation (pp. 19-32). Barcelona: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya.

NUSTAD, K. G. (2001). Development: The devil We Know. Third World Quarterly, Vol.22, No.4, 479-489.

POLVORA, J. B. (2011). Debating Development: Contributions from Anthropology. In C. Mendoza Arroyo, M. Ngulube, & R. Colacios Parra (Eds.), Reflections on Development and Cooperation (pp. 9-18). Barcelona: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya.

RIST, G. (2002). The History of Development. From Western Origins to Global Faith. London: Zed Books

SABATÉ, J.; SCHUSTER, J. M. (2001) Designing the Llobegat Corridor. Cultural Landscapes and Regional Development. Barcelona. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

SACHS, W. (1992). The Development Dictionary, A guide to knowledge as power. London: Zed Books.

STOKES, S. N.; WATSON, E. & MASTRAN, S. S. (1989) Saving America’s Countryside, Johns Hopkins University Press, London.

VALL, P. (2008) “Revisión metodológica sobre el planeamiento de un paisaje cultural. El Plan Director Urbanístico de las Colonias del Llobregat”, Urban 13, 122-136. Madrid. Departamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio.