SPPD Grad Wins Award for Best Dissertation

Global Reach:

SPPD Grad Wins Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning

By Ben Dimapindan

Anupama Mann

USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development alumna Anupama Mann recently received the Gill-Chin Lim Award for the best dissertation on international planning for her thesis “A Megaproject Matrix: Ideology, Discourse and Regulation in the Delhi Metro Rail.”

The award, which recognizes superior scholarship in a doctoral dissertation, is given by the Global Planners Educators Interest Group at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

Mann, who graduated this year with her doctor of policy, planning, and development, was presented with the award last month in Crystal City, Va.

According to the association’s Web site, the award committee’s decision is based on several areas of evaluation, including innovative scholarship and perspective that advance the understanding of international planning in the global context; relation to global cooperation, global social responsibility, global ethics and respect for global diversity; and creativity in exploring international planning alternatives.

Mann’s doctoral project examines the Delhi Metro Rail, a transportation megaproject currently underway in the capital of India. It is a case study-based research project that builds on the literature on the political economy of development, planning in developing countries and megaprojects, she said.

“The research is based on media coverage as well as government documents, informal interviews, photos and videos,” Mann said. “The study covers a wide range of issues — the role of political ideology on the course of development, effects of structural changes in the economy on public projects, political opportunism and governance reform, environmental and social impact, media bias and shortcomings of the project design.”

Mann also noted that she wanted to focus on this topic “to be able to conceptualize the megaproject at different scales and its relationship with its political, economic and social environment.”

SPPD professor Tridib Banerjee, who chaired Mann’s thesis committee, added that the dissertation was a “wonderfully documented history of the Delhi Metro Rail project — how it evolved, how it was implemented, as well as the dynamic, the economic, political and professional issues involved in it.”

“The entire committee [which included SPPD faculty members Martin Krieger, Lisa Schweitzer and Richard Little] felt her project could lead to a book eventually because the subject matter is unique in the sense that it’s an infrastructure megaproject within the context of a developing country,” said Banerjee, director of graduate programs in urban planning at SPPD.

This is the second time that a doctoral student from SPPD has been honored with this distinction. In 2006, N. Emel Ganapati Ph.D. ’06, now an assistant professor at Florida International University, received the award.