The goal of the program is to produce competent and skilled planning professionals and researchers grounded in critical scholarship and learning. There are four objectives.
To relate knowledge and action through critical study of urban and regional planning theories. The School teaches urban and regional planning as a unique body of knowledge and experience, which emphasizes the integration of a number of disciplines and uses that to inform professional action and practice. The program provides for continual participation in field studies and planning processes, often in collaboration with public agencies or community groups. Furthermore, the compulsory project course and the master's report/thesis provide formal opportunities to link knowledge with action. In these pursuits, the School emphasizes the development and application of skills needed for professional practice.
To emphasize multidisciplinary approaches based predominately on social sciences, with some elements of the humanities, sciences, engineering, and design disciplines. The School takes a multidisciplinary view of methods and pays attention to quantitative as well as qualitative approaches of information gathering and analysis. The curriculum is aimed at developing professional excellence in general planning practice and special competence in at least one of three areas of concentration (please see below, "Objective 3"). A combination of analytical and design skills and decision-making perspectives is emphasized. Analytical skills include both conventional statistical methods and computer applications, as well as techniques of market analysis, needs assessment, policy analysis, program evaluation, demographic analysis, and participatory approaches in community decision making. Design skills include physical analysis, urban design, and infrastructure analysis. Decision-making perspectives include those of governments, bureaucracies, and advocates. The School also trains students in negotiation, group processes, consensus-building, and mediation.
To organize courses on functional bases and subsume a spatial dimension under these functions. The three areas of concentration - Land Use & Real Estate Development, Health & Social Planning, and Environmental Services - are organized along functional lines. These areas are complementary and represent the three crucial aspects of the quality of life in human settlements. Territorial interests - regional, urban and rural - are subsumed under these functional specializations. Together, the three areas give students an opportunity to gain a well-rounded professional education. Ordinarily, students are required to choose one area of concentration, but they can also acquire specialized knowledge in other areas through their elective courses.
To focus on the exploration and resolution of planning issues from the point of view of community interests, emphasizing the promotion of equitable and economical use of natural and human resources to improve the quality of life in human settlements. A significant element of the program is its emphasis on research. An ethos of research and investigation underlies most courses. Many courses deal with topical and actual planning issues and frequently have a public agency or a citizen group as the client. This heightens the sense of professionalism and responsibility in students' work. In the exploration and resolution of planning problems, the School is infused with an explicit set of values. The program is committed to promoting a community perspective in public and private decisions. It is guided by goals of promoting community welfare, health and comfort. Social equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability are values that underlie research and teaching at the School. Our core course "An Intellectual History of Urban and Regional Planning" deals specifically with the "value" issue. The emphasis on "community interests" permeates the whole curriculum, and form the basis of our outreach/professional activities such as the National Executive Forum on Public Property and Executive Seminars on Corporate and Investment Real Estate.