types of economic models, such as UrbanSim (Waddell, 2002) and PECAS (Hunt, 2002). Both of these models were coming into use in 2002, but working versions of these models with data sets were not available during the course preparation period. It was also decided that the overview format would be useful to students, who would gain some perspective on the various kinds of models and their appropriate uses. The course contained readings on UrbanSim and PECAS, but did not run these in the class.
The second fundamental decision was that the students would gain first-hand experience with models by running the full models in the lab portion of the class. This decision to provide for active learning entailed a lot of work for the instructors, in course set up, as well as for the students. The time and effort required by the students to learn, run, and interpret these models did not leave time for the students to estimate a location choice submodel, a typical assignment in urban modeling classes. It was decided that having them estimate a location choice model was not as important to this group of students as having them run the three basic types of models in an applied format.
The course met two times per week, for two hours each time. Lectures predominated in the early weeks, while labs took over in the later weeks. The University of California, Davis runs on the 10-week quarter system, which discourages major term projects. The course did, however, have a significant Final Paper that required the students to use MEPLAN, the most complex of the models covered by this course, to test a variety of policy alternatives for the Sacramento Region.
Specific Course Elements