Department of City and Regional Planning
City and regional planning is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to improve the quality of life for people in human settlements. Planners are involved, for example, in forecasting alternative futures of a city or region, guiding the type and location of new development, analyzing transportation systems, encouraging economic development, protecting the environment, mediating diverse interests, and revitalizing urban neighborhoods. They are involved in designing solutions to pressing societal problems such as urban sprawl, unemployment, homelessness, environmental pollution, and urban decay.
City and regional planners work for a variety of public, nonprofit, and private organizations. In the public sector local, state, and federal governments all employ city and regional planners. In the nonprofit sector, planners work for national, state, and local advocacy groups promoting sustainable development. In the private sector, planners work for development companies and consulting firms.
For undergraduates the Department of City and Regional Planning offers basic coursework, opportunities for supervised practical experience, and an academic minor. Undergraduate students take courses in the department for several reasons: to learn about cities and planning processes, to enrich or expand their current area of interest in different aspects of urbanization, or to explore the possibility of graduate work leading to a career in planning. Planning courses allow students to see how the arts and sciences can be applied to improve the prosperity and livability of cities, towns, and regions. In this way they help students deepen their appreciation of their major field of study. Some planning courses may fulfill General Education requirements.
The department’s director of undergraduate studies serves as the primary point of contact for students participating in the minor. (See contact tab above.) Student advising and approval of equivalent courses are handled by the director. Students also have a primary academic advisor assigned in ConnectCarolina.
The Department of City and Regional Planning is located in New East Building on Cameron Avenue. An important resource available to the department is the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, located in Hickerson House, where the research and service programs of the department are housed. The department also has strong ties to the Institute for the Environment. Other research centers that are of interest are Center for Community Capital, Program on Chinese Cities, Carolina Transportation Program, and the UNC Hazards Center.
Graduate School and Career Opportunities
Undergraduates interested in a career in city and regional planning can pursue postgraduate work in planning at UNC–Chapel Hill. The Department of City and Regional Planning offers several degree programs at the graduate level. A two-year program preparing students for advanced positions in professional practice in city and regional planning leads to the degree of master in city and regional planning. A program leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy prepares for careers in teaching and research. Dual graduate degree programs are offered in collaboration with related professional programs (law, business, public administration, public health, landscape architecture, and environmental sciences and engineering).
For more information please contact Dr. Andrew Whittemore, director of undergraduate studies.
Todd BenDor, Nichola Lowe, Noreen McDonald, Roberto G. Quercia, William M. Rohe, Yan Song, Dale Whittington.
Nikhil Kaza, Meenu Tewari, Andrew Whittemore.
Miyuki Hino, Noah Kittner, Danielle Spurlock, Allie Thomas.
Phillip Berke, David J. Brower, Emil Malizia, David H. Moreau.
Michele Berger (Women’s and Gender Studies), Maryann Feldman (Public Policy), David J. Hartzell (Kenan–Flagler Business School), Adam Lovelady (School of Government), Judith W. Wegner (School of Law), Jesse White (School of Government).
Richard N.L. Andrews, Raymond J. Burby, F. Stuart Chapin Jr., David R. Godschalk, Edward J. Kaiser.
Tabitha Combs, Charles Edwards, James Myrick Howard, Leta Huntsinger.
PLAN–City and Regional Planning
An issue encountered in managing urban communities and environmental quality concerns rights to land ownership. Environmental regulations limit people's rights to use land as they see fit. This seminar explores processes whereby rights to land, water, and environmental resources of the United States have been acquired, reserved, distributed, and regulated.
How is "community" understood as a concept used to describe towns, universities, and other forms of social interaction? This seminar introduces students to urban planning, higher education, and social capital and provides students with opportunities to explore and document local leaders' views concerning the towns' futures and the University's growth.
This first-year seminar will expose students to the complex dynamics of race, ethnicity, and gender and how these have shaped the American city since 1945.
Explores the changing nature of the American job and the transformative forces from global trade and outsourcing to corporate restructuring and new skill demands that have influenced this change.
The seminar seeks to understand the current realities of North Carolina's inner-city communities in the context of their historical evolution and the current proposals for revitalization. Each student selects one city or town for a case study.
How can the sustainability of cities and their ability to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups be improved? In this seminar students will look at the evolution of cities throughout history to find out how they have coped with threats to sustainability.
After studying the forces that have produced the American urban landscape, we will explore the city from the normative perspectives of urban historians, planners and architects, social scientists, social critics, and futurists, as a way for each student to develop her/his own perspective about what a "good city" might be. Honors version available.
Using directed readings, participative class exercises, and cases that cut across developed and developing countries, this seminar will focus on how global pressures and economic integration is changing local economies.
This first-year seminar focuses on the constructed images of the modern American city. We have selected six U.S. World's Fairs between 1893 and 1965 (1884 World Cotton Centennial, New Orleans; 1893 World's Colombian Exposition, Chicago; 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Saint Louis; 1939 New York World's Fair, New York City; 1962 Seattle World's Fair; 1964/1965 New York World's Fair). By examining them in detail, we can follow shifts in conceptions of cities (and the world).
Special topics course. Content will vary each semester.
This course will introduce students to the topic of cities and urban life. Over 80% of the United States' population lives in cities or their suburbs, and over half of the world's population lives in urban areas. Studying cities and urban life is important to understanding how human societies have developed, how our households live and function, how our economies grow and innovate, how our culture develops and influences, and an array of other topics.
Introduction to the evolution of cities in history, to the concept of urban morphology or form, and to the different elements or subsystems of the urban system and how they have changed over time.
Introduction to methods used for solving urban problems. Covers methods employed in subfields of planning to develop an ability to critically evaluate different techniques and approaches used within these disciplines.
American cities are creative, vibrant, dynamic and diverse places. Yet the prosperity, opportunity and creativity that we so often celebrate and associate with urban life is not evenly shared or universally experienced. This class is designed to help us think through the factors that contribute to urban inequality and also consider the potential (but also the limits) of solutions that are designed with those inequities in mind.
This course examines site planning as a process of creating the built environment. A site planner considers many things, including site hydrology, topography, building form, access, and regulation. Students will review the theories of urban design that guide site planning, conduct a site analysis and propose a site plan.
Examines students' knowledge and understanding of social entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to addressing complex social needs. Affords students the opportunity to engage in a business planning exercise designed to assist them in establishing and launching a social purpose entrepreneurial venture. Honors version available.
This course introduces students to theories, principles, and measurement of sustainability. It also provides an overview of sustainability in national and international contexts.
This course examines the skills to make important financial decisions such as buying a car, a house, paying for college, and managing credit and debt. Students will also learn about the fundamentals of investment and retirement planning to prepare them for a lifetime of wealth building. Finally, students will learn about public policy initiatives aimed at increasing the wealth building opportunities of low-income and minority households and communities.
This course introduces the techniques and tools used to assemble, manage, and analyze many types of data used to support decision-making in urban environments. Students will learn to work with messy and incomplete datasets, an important part of the course will be learning to clean and analyze imperfect data. The goal of this course is to prepare students to apply urban data analytics in practice.
This course examines selected urban and regional issues under guidance of a member of the faculty.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
The impact of building on the environment and health will be examined by looking at the major areas of: land use planning, water resource use, energy, materials and indoor environment.
This course addresses questions of power, politics, and identity in the urban environment, with a focus on the emergence of key selected global cities and the processes that both created them historically and which are currently transforming them locally and globally.
Stresses the spatial analysis and modeling capabilities of organizing data within a geographic information system. (GISci)
Provides the foundation of state and local government finance necessary to understand new developments in the provision of infrastructure for economic development.
This course introduces students to the unique characteristics of freight transportation and the impact of urban and regional planning. Freight transport, which is a critical segment of supply chains, is undergoing dramatic changes. The impact of e-Commerce is revealed in the constant re-organization of supply chains and the need for freight transport to respond accordingly.
This course explores the reciprocal connections between energy (production/conversion, distribution, and use), land use, environment, and transportation. Evaluation of federal, state, and local policies on energy conservation and alternative energy sources are emphasized. Students gain skills to analyze impacts, interdependencies, and uncertainties of various energy conservation measures and production technologies.
This course will provide an introduction to urgent topics related to energy, sustainability, and the environment. The course material will focus on new technologies, policies, and plans in cities and different governing bodies in the energy system with a focus on developing tools to analyze energy for its sustainability, impact on people, the environment, and the economy.
Examines shaping the urban built environments of the United States from the colonial era to present day. Critically examines forces that shaped our cities, and studies the values, ideals, and motivations underlying efforts to plan and direct physical development of American cities.
While there is no consistent definition of what smart cities are, urban spaces blanketed with ubiquitous and heterogeneous sensor networks that are constantly monitoring the vitality of the city are becoming common place. Such continuous surveillance raises deep political and ethical questions as well as questions about institutional reconfiguration. We will examine urban analytics platforms and interrogate them from a variety of lenses, including privacy, equity, and probity. Previously offered as PLAN 673.
Since the end of the Second World War, if not before, more and more cities of the United States have come to feature spaces identified by members of LGBTQ communities and their heterosexual, cis-gendered counterparts, as gay, lesbian, or queer. This class introduces students to the social, political, and economic life of LGBTQ spaces in the United States, and asks students to consider their importance and the merits of planning for their improvement and/or conservation.
Introduces students to the political economy of poverty alleviation programs. Uses comparative cases to explore what types of projects, tasks, and environments lead to effective and equitable outcomes, and why.
Rigorous examination of real estate development from the entrepreneurial and public perspectives. Emphasis on risk management and the inherent uncertainties of development. The four dimensions of real estate are addressed: economic/market, legal/institutional, physical, and financial. Previously offered as PLAN 375
This course introduces concepts and themes on the development of urbanism in the "Global South". Students engage with current debates over urbanism in the Global South, including looking at urban inequalities in contemporary cities. Through the course, students will be able to compare and critically analyze formations of contemporary urbanism in selected cities in the Global South from a comparative perspective.
Intensive introduction to environmental management and policy, including environmental and health risks; policy institutions, processes, and instruments; policy analysis; and major elements of American environmental policy. Lectures and case studies. Three lecture hours per week.
Original research, fieldwork, readings, or discussion of selected planning issues under guidance of a member of the faculty.
Applied issues in the use of geographic information systems in terrain analysis, medical geography, biophysical analysis, and population geography.
This course permits full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the Department of City and Regional Planning who wish to pursue independent research or an independent project to do so under the direction of a member of the department faculty.
Recommended preparation, MATH 231. This course will equip students with an overview of contemporary issues in energy modeling and energy systems analysis, with a focus on environmental and public health impacts of energy systems. Students will gain exposure to a variety of research methodologies, analytical tools, and applications of energy modeling applied to environmental and public health related problems such as climate change, air pollution, and water footprints of energy systems.
Fundamental characteristics of the urban transportation system as a component of urban structure. Methodologies for the analysis of transportation problems, planning urban transportation, and the evaluation of plans.
Alternative public urban transportation systems including mass transit, innovative transit services, and paratransit, examined from economic, land use, social, technical, and policy perspectives.
This graduate-level course examines the importance of multimodal transportation planning and provides a comprehensive overview of best planning practices to support increased walking and bicycling.
This course will interrogate the role of streets in communities paying particular attention to how streets contribute to mobility, accessibility, economic vibrancy, social cohesion, and safety from crime and traffic danger. We will consider how different people are affected by streets and transport policy.
Deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes have been rising steadily on US roadways in recent years. Despite growing investment in safe walking and bicycling facilities, pedestrians and bicyclists bear a disproportionate share of these deaths and injuries. Through a combination of field work, lectures, and facilitated discussions, the Roadways for a Safer Future course introduces students to data collection, analysis, and communication techniques that are critical for understanding and advancing road safety for all.
This course explores the functions of ecosystems, land development activities that impact such functions, and the land use management tools to create strategies for mitigating and restoring environmental damage. Course goals include understanding the ecological context of planning and how ecological principles may inform planning decisions. Prepares planners to engage effectively with biologists, natural resource managers, park managers, and other professionals from the natural sciences.
This course is an introduction to coastal management with a particular focus on managing the risks from natural hazards and climate change. It is designed for undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students. The focus of this class is on understanding the challenges that coastal communities face, how coasts are currently managed, and different strategies for responding in a rapidly changing world. Previously offered as PLAN 747. Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate students only.
Lecture course on comparative urbanism and the global evolution of the city form. Examines values and ideals embedded in urban landscapes, seeking to understand how social, economic, and political forces have influenced the development of cities through history.
This course examines site planning as a means of addressing concerns related to urban development including hydrology, vegetation, land use, urban form, access, regulation, and community priorities. Students conduct an analysis of a site and propose a plan for a hypothetical mixed-use development. Students learn the basics of the 3D modeling software, SketchUp.
An introduction to the human dimensions of natural hazards and climate change adaptation. What can we do to reduce losses from floods, fires, and other extreme weather events? How can we minimize the impacts of climate change? The focus of this course is on understanding how governance institutions, policies, politics, from individual to international influences the risks communities face. Previously offered as PLAN 755. Juniors, seniors and graduate students only.
An introduction to climate change impacts and adaptation for undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students. The focus of this course is understanding how social and environmental systems interact to create risk and damage. This course prepares students to design and implement adaptation strategies for organizations of all types, from businesses to government agencies. Students will learn to integrate information about climate hazards, natural systems, built infrastructure, and socioeconomic systems. Previously offered as PLAN 756. Restricted to juniors, seniors, and graduate students only.
Permission of the instructor required for undergraduates. Examination of the environmental and health risks, policy institutions, processes, instruments, policy analysis, and major elements of American environmental policy. Lectures and case studies.
Permission of instructor needed for undergraduates. Introduces students in planning to issues related to diversity and inequality. Different aspects of diversity (e.g., gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality/citizenship) will be explored. Examines the relationship between diversity and the unequal distribution of resources and life trajectories.
Introduction to basic theories, concepts, and strategies employed to pursue local and regional economic development. Clarifies similarities and distinctions with related planning perspectives including community development, investigates the economic logic behind various development initiatives, and reviews basic principles for critically examining alternative policies and programs. Previously offered as PLAN 770.
Intermediate and advanced techniques for analyzing the development of local and regional economies. Social accounts, indicator construction, regional input-output models, economic and fiscal impact analysis, labor market analysis, and regional economic forecasting techniques. Previously offered as PLAN 771.
This is a survey course about different techniques used in assembling, managing, analyzing, and predicting using heterogeneous data sets in urban environments. These include point, polygon, raster, vector, text, image, and network data; data sets with high cadence and high spatial resolution; and data sets that are inherently messy and incomplete. The emphasis is on practical urban analytics.
Fundamental concepts of economic development including growth, trade, product-cycle, flexible specialization, and entrepreneurship theories applied to local contexts. Economic development issues addressed in the North American, South American, European, or South Asian contexts.
Permission of the instructor. Seminar on policy and planning approaches for providing improved community water and sanitation services in developed countries. Topics include the choice of appropriate technology and level of service, pricing, metering, and connection charges; cost recovery and targeting subsidies to the poor; water venting; community participation in the management and operation of water systems; and rent-seeking behavior in the provision of water supplies.
Design of public policy instruments as incentives for sustainable management of environmental resources and ecosystems, and comparison of the effects and effectiveness of alternative policies.
Permission of the instructor. Course explores effect of the global economy on national and community development, effect of environmental degradation processes on development, and strategies to guide social change.
Permission of the instructor. An overview of the subject matter and methods of investigation for the study of cities and regions. Presentations of original papers prepared by students.