Thematic Areas

The UPP in association with the IIHS Schools focuses on the following thematic areas. In most cases the themes mentioned call for the involvement of more than one school in curriculum design, content development, and delivery, while one of the schools leads the initiative.


Climate Change, Urban Resilience and Urban Disaster Risk Reduction

IIHS has a significant and globally recognised body of work on climate change, adaptation and mitigation in urban and semi-urban areas. UPP develops and delivers the insights from this research and practice into customised courses and workshops for multi-lateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as for municipal and state level officials from the disaster management agencies.

Urban Planning & Sustainability

Planning and sustainability are cross-cutting themes across UPP courses and workshops, which underline the need for integration between economic, environmental and social planning and development. This approach to planning and sustainability is included in capacity building interventions for the leadership, such as at LBSNAA as well as in seminars on the development and management of cantonments with the Indian Army.


Affordable Urban Housing

The UPP conducts courses and workshops on affordable housing and slum development for diverse stakeholders. These capacity building interventions aim to familiarise participants with key questions around land, tenure, community participation, finance and technology, and aim to enable a dialogue between concerned stakeholders in order to achieve the desired outcome of adequate and affordable housing for all. These courses are conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (apex agency for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana — PMAY), GoI, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and state institutes such as the State Institute for Urban Development, ATI Mysuru. These capacity building initiatives have expanded to policy advisory roles, with the IIHS helping the Government of Karnataka formulate the Karnataka Affordable Housing Policy 2016 and the Karnataka Slum Areas Development Policy 2016.

Urban Public Health

IIHS has a growing body of research and practice work around urban public health, with a focus on vulnerable households, the urban poor and public healthcare infrastructure. UPP delivers these courses from a systems thinking perspective in order to enable shifts in paradigms of thinking around disease burdens and public health outcomes.


Project Management

Recognising the critical importance of project management to the delivery of urban infrastructure projects in mission mode while ensuring their economic viability, the UPP designs and delivers modules as part of the integrated capacity building programme under the AMRUT mission. These modules incorporating standard practices are particularly designed keeping in mind the peculiarities of the Indian context.

Urban Economic Development and Livelihoods

Local economic development is central to IIHS’ approach to urban development, and is included in UPP’s courses and workshops through modules on the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) as part of the integrated capacity building programme under AMRUT, and affordable housing.


Urban Policy and Governance

As part of its capacity building programme for urban leadership, the UPP curates and conducts the urban module for IAS officers in the Mid-Career Training Programme (MCTP) at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) across all phases, as well as In-Service Training for IAS, IPS and IFS officers under the aegis of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, GoI. These modules focus on challenges and opportunities in the governance of urban areas, and policy and programmatic approaches to solving critical issues sustainably.

Urban Theory

UPP anchors master classes on Southern urbanism and other leading theories on global urbanisation, with an aim to enable the development of a rooted theory of urbanisation in India. These master classes are conducted by leading national and international urban theorists and are structured around the theme of ‘Unpacking Urbanism’.


Urban Water Supply and Sanitation

The UPP leverages its internal and external faculty and practitioner network in the area of water supply and sanitation to deliver cutting edge programmes on universal coverage and programme management. Apart from conducting lectures and sessions in audio-visual formats on water supply, sanitation and septage management, UPP conducts visits to several sites of best practices to enable experiential learning for the participants. The modules are conducted as part of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) individual integrated capacity building programme, as well as specialised workshops for HUDCO, covering understanding of urban sanitation systems, and their planning, implementation and maintenance.

Storm Water Management

The UPP addresses the issue of urban flooding and its prevention taking both a planning and infrastructure approach, in which adequate stress in laid on optimal spatial planning of urban areas accounting for natural drainage systems, as well as the creation and utilisation of green infrastructure, besides well-designed networks for storm water drainage. Specialised courses are conducted on this topic as part of the integrated capacity building programme under the AMRUT mission.

Solid Waste Management

Best practices in Municipal Solid Waste Management including segregation at source, safe disposal, recycling and reuse, and case studies from around the world form part of UPP’s specialised modules on Solid Waste Management. These courses, complemented by site visits to demonstrate the importance of efficient municipal solid waste management, are delivered under the AMRUT integrated capacity building programme. The aims and objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission are also covered as part of these modules.

Urban Mobility

As part of the integrated capacity building programme under the AMRUT mission, as well as for other interested urban practitioners, UPP conducts specialised modules on public transport and non-motorised transport focusing on design, equity, access and safety.

Urban Green Spaces

UPP conducts specialised modules on urban green spaces which are intended to improve the liveability and amenity value of urban areas, with a special focus on children and senior citizens with regard to planning and spatial design. These are delivered as part of the integrated capacity building programme under the AMRUT mission.


In each of these themes, our course offerings combine an overview of the governance and policy framework, and current practice to arrive at an understanding of the prevalent situation. Participants are encouraged to employ a systems thinking approach both to formulate alternative governance and policy frameworks, and to find solutions to address gaps between policies and practice and propose ways to achieve the desired outcomes as need be.

The UPP imparts training on the following skills in association with the IIHS Labs:

The Design Lab offers courses on the design of Green Buildings

Focussing on architects and engineers, UPP courses on green buildings cover facade design, shading, passive design for daylight and natural ventilation, as well as the theories underpinning green building ratings and approaches. These courses include exercises and hands-on learning to enable participants to apply these to their own projects.

The Geo-spatial Lab offers courses on Geographical Information Systems

The key aim of UPP capacity building interventions in skill building in GIS technologies is to enable familiarity with open source platforms and data management, for a range of stakeholders such as the public sector, academic sector, social sector and private sector. Besides hands-on learning, senior participants are also familiarised with GIS systems procurement and contract management.

The Urban Informatics Lab offers courses on Data Visualisation

 Using hands-on exercises and simple theories, UPP courses on data visualisation aim to enable better communication and story-telling using visualisation of quantitative, qualitative and spatial data.

The Word Lab offers Writing workshops

UPP courses on writing are aimed at academics and practitioners working in the urban sector. These courses and workshops use exercises and critical appreciation methods to enable participants to develop their own form of writing across different registers such as research papers, opinion pieces, blog posts and policy briefs.

The Media Lab offers courses on the use of audio-visual Media

 With a focus on urban film-making and photography, UPP media courses aim to enable effective and impactful story-telling and articulation through visual media. These courses are aimed at urban researchers and practitioners who wish to enhance their work through diverse media.