Transportation systems are the result of decision-making processes. It is not simply a matter of choosing a mode of transportation like rail, automobiles or bicycles – all transportation modalities require basic infrastructure, which needs to be planned, constructed, and funded in some way. Using the complex federal, state, and local transportation policy system in the United States as an example, this course will teach students how these governance models intersect, sometimes clash, and occasionally lead to completed projects. Most importantly, through a combination of exercises, simulations and a final project, students will build confidence in decision-making, especially in a field where there are often imperfect choices and impacts can linger for decades.
As students will discover, the complexity often lies in the process of decision-making, which necessarily requires engaging a range of stakeholders, managing public and media scrutiny, choosing among funding options, and selecting among different transportation modes.
As part of this course, students will work on a real governance issue facing the City of Charlotte and its surrounding region. Throughout the course, students will interview various stakeholders in the region, study provided background materials, and, as a final project, offer recommendations to local leaders on a go-forward plan.