Mexico: Megacity Megadventure - Resilience in Mexico City

Mexico:Megacity Megadventure - Resilience in Mexico City


January 4 - January 16, 2021  

Program Description 

Mexico City is one of the great megacities of the world. With a metro population of more than 21 million people, it is the largest city in North America. Tracing its urban roots to ancient Teotihuacan and the pre­-Colombian city states of Lake Texcoco and Tenochtitlan, the city is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the western hemisphere. Dating back more than 2,000 years, it has experienced human and environmental change at a massive scale, from ancient settlement through colonial planning to every design movement of 20th and 21st Century urbanism. 

Join professor Gordon Douglas, an expert on urban resiliency, informal development, and the social and cultural implications of architecture and design, for a two week immersion in the metropolis of the Valley of Mexico. The trip, a 3­-unit Urban Planning 280 course, ­will introduce students to a variety of topics related to Latin American urbanism, with a special emphasis on the themes of adaptation, resilience, and everyday urbanism that have defined the city throughout its history. 

Students will make daily visits to cultural sites, meet with local planners, architects, and other experts, and explore Mexico City and surrounding historic sites. With a special emphasis on resilience and adaptation in all its forms, the trip will include hands­-on service learning work with a local water project, and opportunities to meet with experts working on transportation, economic development, and emergency preparedness.


URBP 280 Planning Research Topics (3 units)
In-depth examination of selected planning research topics introduced in core seminars for the Master of Urban Planning degree, such as the social and environmental impacts of planning policies.



Program Leader: Gordon Douglas

Gordon Douglas is a multidisciplinary urbanist whose work sits at the intersection of urban political-economy, community studies, and cultures of planning and design. Through his research, teaching, and community work, Gordon aims to bring social and cultural analysis to the study of urban planning and development. Much of his research concerns questions of local identity, peoples' relationships to their physical surroundings, and social and spatial inequality in the city. His book, The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Oxford University Press, 2018) examines people who create unauthorized but functional, civic-minded "do-it-yourself urban design" interventions and what these informal improvement efforts tell us about planning, participation, and privilege in the contemporary city. Other recent studies have examined the cultural geography of gentrification; the impacts of community expectations on development projects; how the naming and design of mass transit stations can help promote neighborhood identity; and the role of grassroots relief efforts in disaster recovery. Gordon's teaching interests include urban design, qualitative research methods, and urban history and theory. He also regularly leads students in active learning research and practice around local planning and design issues in San Jose and beyond.

Gordon received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago and also holds degrees from the University of Southern California and the London School of Economics. At San Jose State, he also serves as Director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies.




It is important to note that each program's total cost will vary depending on the location and the package it offers.  

$750 SJSU Special Session Tuition ($250 per unit)
$200 Administrative Fee 
$TBD Program fees, lodging, class materials and class related tours approximately*
$TBD   Total Program Cost


* Airfare is not included.