Queen’s University has been a leading centre for education, research and outreach on urban and regional planning for almost 80 years, most recently through the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP), founded in 1970, and the Department of Geography, founded in 1960.
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.PL.)
The coordinated degree program is intended to help geography students who want a fast-track professional degree in urban and regional planning. The coordinated degree program makes it possible for geography students to finish their BA / B.Sc. and MPL. degrees in less time than it would take to pursue the degrees independently.
Geography and city planning are related fields. Geographers often consider the spatial implications of urban and regional issues and have a special focus on place. It is quite natural, therefore, to consider the integration of the two related fields. Today urban and regional planning is a broad field and people with different backgrounds are needed for the different work that is done by planners. The multi-disciplinary dimensions of urban planning provide students with a breadth of options to pursue in their studies.
Having both the geography and planning degrees offers the practical advantage of increasing professional qualifications that will broaden employment prospects. The skills gained by taking both programs will prepare graduates for work in urban planning, GIS, transportation, environmental studies, social planning and urban development. Many planning graduates who have geography backgrounds have found responsible and rewarding positions in municipal or provincial governments, and consulting practices across Canada.
The coordinated degree program allows students to finish the M.PL. degree requirements in about 15 months after receiving their geography degree provided they take two of their Geography electives in planning and an additional two planning courses while they are still in the Geography program.
The coordinated program is suited to highly motivated students who have at least an 80% grade average in Geography courses in the previous year. The combination of planning and geography skills will be especially useful for those hoping to work in urban planning, GIS, transportation, environmental studies, social planning and urban development. Students are required to maintain at least an "A" average in Geography courses and at least a "B+" in Planning courses.
Eligible students from Geography can get a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.Pl.) degree by extending their studies 15 months instead of the usual two years. Successful applicants to the fast-track program will be expected to have taken four Planning courses (all half-term courses) during their third and/or fourth year in Geography.
This increase in your fourth-year workload can help you save one academic year in the Master's degree program.
Students taking an Honours seminar in Geography may find it advantageous to develop a topic related to urban and regional planning.
SURP-812 Qualitative Methods in Planning
SURP-815 Legal and Governmental Processes
SURP-817 An Intellectual History of Urban and Regional Planning
SURP-818 Physical Planning
SURP-819 Quantitative Methods
SURP-823, 824, 825, 826 or 827 Planning Projects. A project course related to area of concentration
(Foundation Course ++ and at least two courses in the designated area.)
This program provides students with the opportunity to work as paid interns with various public and private sector organizations in Ontario as well as in other Canadian regions. Most years have offered a limited number of placements in China. Internships normally occur in the summer between the first and second years of the program, and are usually three to four months in duration. Internships may be with community-based organizations, corporations, government agencies, consulting firms, public interest groups, district health units, and planning departments of all levels of government, among other potential employers. Although the School cannot guarantee every student an internship placement, assisting students in securing valuable work experience during their program is a priority. In recent years, the internship program has been very successful in matching students to employers, to everyone's mutual benefit.
The internship is designed to expose students to their field of interest and to professional planners with a high level of expertise and experience. The experience allows students to gain valuable skills and to apply newly emerging theories and analytic techniques to "real world" planning problems. SURP interns usually report that their placement was interesting, educational and enjoyable.
Here are samples of past internships:
In the fall, visiting students, Angus Robertson and Bridge Ford, graduate students from the University of Otago, New Zealand, brought international perspective to many of the classes at the School. SURP students may exchange to Otago in their final term.
In the Winter term, Shwaan Hutton, Jack Huffman, and Jeremy Johnston traveled to Perth, Australia. They were studying at the University of Western Australia’s Urban Design Research Centre. SURP students may also exchange to UWA in their final term: following the experiences of Kevin House and Sarah Bingham.
Photo at right: Otago planning students Angus Robertson and Bridge Ford (at SURP for the Fall 2012 term) in Montreal on a SURP field trip. Photo courtesy of Bridge Ford.
Dr. Ajay Agarwal offered an international project course in Auroville (www.auroville.org). Auroville is located near Pondicherry in southern India. The client for the course was Auroville Integral Sustainability Institute and the assignment was to recommend guidelines for developing a network of social spaces along “The Crown,” a major arterial street in the city. Ten SURP students and Dr. Agarwal traveled to Auroville for two weeks during December to work on the project. Prior to departure, the students did substantial background research on Auroville, and also studied best practices related to the planning of social spaces. Students had several Skype meetings with the client. The class was very successful. Both the client and the students have given very positive feedback to SURP.
During the spring/summer semester students Angus Beaty and Isaac Shirokoff completed their China Internship program sponsored by China's Ministry of Land and Resources. Angus spent his semester at the China Academy of Land and Resources Economics, while Isaac interned with the China Land and Surveying and Planning Institute in Beijing.
Twelve years ago, the International Experience Awards (IEA) program was created with revenues generated by our China Projects in order to provide students with a unique international experience. The OPPI Eastern Ontario District recently made a donation to increase the awards. Normally, three to five awards of $1,700 each are given out every year. Proposals on planning-related topics are submitted for adjudication by a selection panel comprised of first- and second-year students. The proposals are judged on their feasibility, practicality and innovation. The award recipients give a presentation to the student body and faculty before and after returning from their trips. The 2012 award winners were Mladen Kukic (’13) for travel to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Jonathan Pradinuk for travel to Helsinki, Finland, and Marisa Talarico (’13) for travel to Bogota, Colombia. See the last pages of the newsletter for more information on their exciting travels! The 2013 winners are Cassandra Caiger (’13) (Austria), Hossein Danesh Heidari (’13) (United Arab Emirates), Lindsey Gradeen (Sweden), and Shwaan Hutton (New Zealand).
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2012 between Queen’s University and Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University for promoting scholarly collaboration between the College of Architecture at BVDU and SURP. The two programs will likely offer a joint international project course in the future and explore possibilities of starting a student exchange. Dr. Ajay Agarwal has been instrumental in spearheading this partnership.
In 2012 there was a steady stream of scholars from China visiting SURP. The visiting scholars’ stays at SURP ranged from 3 to 12 months. They added a great deal to SURP’s intellectual diversity and enriched the program for our faculty and students.