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Report from the President

Changes in Institute Programs and Activities
Gregory K. Ingram, October 1, 2006

The content of the Institute’s work program has evolved significantly over the past two years, and its annual activities have increased by about half since 2004. Reflecting this evolution and growth, the Institute’s programs and staffing are also changing.

The former Department of Planning and Development has been replaced by two new departments. The Department of Planning and Urban Form, headed by Armando Carbonell, addresses planning and its relation to the form of the built environment with a focus on three themes: spatial externalities and multijurisdictional governance issues; the interplay of public and private interests in the use of land; and land policy, land conservation, and the environment. The Department of Economic and Community Development, headed by Rosalind Greenstein, connects planning to development and fiscal issues with a focus on four themes: the city, land, and the university; neighborhood planning and development; fiscal dimensions of planning; and urban economics and revitalization.

The Department of Valuation and Taxation, headed by Joan Youngman, continues its focus on land taxation, property taxation, and the valuation process within an expanded program. The main activities of the Department of International Studies continue to be its programs in Latin America and in China focusing on land and tax policy issues. Other international activities include work in Eastern Europe on administration of market value based property taxation, in South Africa on property taxation and land markets, and in Taiwan on infrastructure development and planning.

This year the Institute established a new position, Manager of Public Affairs, and Anthony Flint took up this work in late July. He will be responsible for disseminating information about the Institute’s products, findings, and activities, particularly with the media and through the Internet. He will develop the Institute’s Web site as an outreach tool, writing regular columns, making the site more interactive, and strengthening its capacity as a key Internet portal for those interested in land policy.

Anthony covered transportation, planning and development, architecture, and urban design as a reporter for the Boston Globe from 1989 to 2005. For the past year, he was Smart Growth Education Director at the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development. While a visiting scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), he wrote the book This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) on the forces influencing urban growth in the United States. Anthony became familiar with the Institute as a Loeb Fellow at the GSD in 2000 and has since contributed to the Institute’s annual journalists program and authored an Institute working paper on density. A graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Anthony will continue to do research and writing.

The Institute also has been adapting its training programs to take advantage of the capabilities of the Internet. Several of the Institute’s basic courses have been made available for distance education and Internet-based instruction. These typically involve videotaped presentations that can be downloaded from the Internet or a CD. Examples include the introductory courses on conservation easements, mediation of land use disputes, and planning fundamentals. This shift has freed up resources for new classroom courses, such as one based on the book The Humane Metropolis, published this fall by University of Massachusetts Press in association with the Institute.

The Latin American Program has developed several Internet-based courses offered live with real-time instructor feedback on the students’ work. These courses on urban land policy and property taxation topics are presented in Spanish and Portuguese to participants in Latin America.

Finally, the Institute will soon launch a program of evaluations of land policy programs in the United States. One of the first of these will assess the performance of smart growth policies that have been applied to different degrees in many states. This work is part of a new Institute initiative to improve our knowledge of what works and why in land policy.