It seems like most urban design studios focus projects in cities. This makes sense- urbanity implies density, so conflating design opportunities with large population centers is perfectly logical. I traveled to San Francisco with my studio mates last semester. Other recent MIT studios have traveled to Caracas, Mumbai, Bogota, and Barcelona.
We are taking a different approach this semester. Taught by Rafi Segal, our studio is focusing on renovating typical American suburbs for communal living. For our studio trip, we visited suburbs and exurbs outside of Boston, went to an organic dairy farm and drank raw milk, and then went back to the land for an evening of communal living around a campfire. We put up our tents together, cooked together, drank together as practice for our design projects later on in the semester. It was quite the refreshing break from the often competitive buzz of architecture school.
And, relevant for an urban design studio, even the middle of the woods can become at least slightly urban with the right mix of people around a camp fire.