rigorous version could be created for other audiences. UPlan and Places are free and can be gotten with datasets from their authors. UrbanSim can be downloaded with data for Eugene-Springfield, Oregon. PECAS for Oregon State and for the Sacramento region will be downloadable in late 2004.
One of the drawbacks of this experience was that some of the students were not in command of the basic urban economics concepts in the final weeks of the course. It was concluded that the course should have devoted three weeks to this topic, rather than two. Also, a written assignment on this material should have been included. A basic understanding of urban economics is fundamental to the students’ understanding of how urban models are structured and the behaviors being represented.
Of course, the biggest judgment is whether this overview format was successful. The comparative organization and active learning nature of the class got students involved and debating the roles of these models and so seemed successful. The students became quite involved in debating the policy analysis abilities of the models and their costs of learning and application. The students also initiated discussions of the uncertainties of the models and their likely biases and effects on decisionmakers, both citizens and lay elected officials. Finally, they also were quite interested in determining which models would be useful for exactly which roles in agency planning processes: broad, real-time scenario generation in charrettes, quick agency staff-level generation and testing of alternatives, and final detailed evaluation of alternative transportation and land use policies.