PUP 301 Introduction to Urban Planning
Assignment 1—Wicked Urban Problems in the News
Wicked urban problems are all around us. They also appear in the news…often surrounded by controversy.
Such wicked problems help illustrate the politically-charged nature of urban planning. This assignment
requires you to conduct an analysis of the news to identify an example of a “wicked” urban problem that is
Completing the Essay
Search the news for articles addressing urban issues that fit the four criteria for “wicked” problems discussed
in class. Your task for this assignment is to identify a real-life example that illustrates the political, and often
controversial, nature of the planning process. The example you find can be local or in another city, can relate
to any of the functional areas of planning (e.g. transportation, housing, economic development,
environmental planning, etc.), and may be project-specific or focused on larger comprehensive planning
activities. Pick a case study (NOT the South Mountain Freeway discussed in class) for which you can find
adequate details and information about the urban problem being addressed. You must find a minimum of
three sources of information about your case study. All sources must be properly cited and referenced.
Write an essay that clearly addresses the following for the wicked problem you identified:
–Explain the background of the urban planning problem being addressed
–Discuss why the problem is a “wicked” one:
–Why is the problem itself difficult to define?
–Why are the causes of the problem uncertain?
–Why is there no obvious solution?
–How is the problem linked to other problems?
–Discuss the public sector and private sector stakeholders involved, and how conflicting values contribute to
the “wicked” nature of the problem
Your written essay should be roughly 2-3 single-spaced pages in length, and should be written in essay format
(i.e. include an introductory and concluding paragraph, and content paragraphs consisting of well-structured
Assignments are due Monday 1/29 by 4:50PM. Assignments should be submitted electronically as a Word or
PDF document under the “Assignments” tab on Blackboard before the due date and time. After that point,
the link will no longer be visible. NO late essays will be accepted.
All essays should reflect your own individual work. Direct quotes must be cited properly using a consistent
citation style throughout. Be sure to include a list of the 3 (minimum) sources used to complete the
Your essay should be thoroughly proofread for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Essays
containing excessive proofreading errors will not be accepted for credit.