Students must apply and be accepted into the Malaysia Sustainable Cities Practicum.


2016-2017 Syllabus (PDF)


The Malaysia Sustainable Cities Practicum is an intensive field-based course that brings 15 graduate students to Malaysia to learn about and analyze sustainable city development in five cities in Malaysia.

Malaysia is a rapidly developing country that has shifted from an agrarian to a high tech economy in just several decades. Along the way, it has increasingly integrated sustainability objectives into its development agenda.

The students in the Practicum will help determine the extent to which these efforts have been successful. They will identify specific projects or policy-making efforts that the following year's cohort of International Visiting Scholars can examine more closely. Thus, the goals of the Practicum are to:

  • Understand the constraints on, and opportunities for, sustainable development in Malaysia;
  • Provide feedback to various development agencies, particularly the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) in Johor Bahru;
  • Identify projects or policy-making efforts that could serve as the focus of the research of future international Visiting Scholars.

Structure of the Course

In the first part of the Practicum, which happens in the fall each year, selected graduate students in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning participate in an online self-study during which they learn about Malaysian culture, history, politics, ecology, geography, planning, and economics. They also learn about reflective practice and journaling.

During the January Independent Activities Period, students and faculty travel to Malaysia for two weeks to conduct field-based research in conjunction with student and faculty colleagues at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. 

The Practicum concludes with a one week group session at MIT that generates a Research Agenda spelling out suggested research topics for the next year's cohort of International Scholars.

Course Requirements and Responsibilities

Fall: Pre-Travel Online Tutorial and Workshop

Students must complete a mandatory online tutorial that will prepare them to interact with citizens and public officials in Malaysia. Practicum students are expected to commit 5+ hours a week of guided self-study during November and December. The tutorial covers Malaysian culture, history, politics, geography, ecology, planning, and economics. Practicum students also participate in a short reflective practice workshop at MIT to introduce them to the reflective practice and journaling tools they are expected to use throughout the Practicum.

January:Travel to Malaysia

Under the direction of the MIT Faculty Committee for the program, students will travel from Boston to Malaysia. They will spend approximately two full weeks in Malaysia over the January Independent Activities Period (IAP). During this time they will visit multiple cities, engage in group reflection, and conduct field-based research in conjunction with our colleagues at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Spring: Report Writing

The final portion of the Practicum concludes with a group report-writing session during the last week of IAP for which all students must be present. The students will produce a Research Agenda for the coming year. Prior Research Agenda can be accessed at the Malaysia Sustainable Cities Practicum website.