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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rocky E. Piro
URBDP 500
Seattle Campus

Survey of Urban Planning

Concepts and logic of planning as a professional activity. Evolution of guiding ideas in relation to changing social, economic, and environmental conditions within the American political framework. Major procedures used by planners. Critical appraisal. Open to graduate students in urban design and planning and to graduate students in architecture seeking the urban design certificate.

Class description

Students examine and become familiar with concepts, procedures, and strategies of urban planning as a professional activity. The course is designed for students to explore and understand the social, economic, and environmental conditions of the built environment –and those ideas and actions which guide urban development in the American political framework.

How are theories of planning of value to the professional practice? This is a primary focus of the class. The success of planning activities depends on critically employing ideas and approaches to planning discussed in the class. Students are oriented to plan development and implementation, growth management, social and professional ethics, planning and politics, and citizen participation. There is an emphasis on sustainability and opportunities for ensuring healthy communities for current and future generations.

Student learning goals

Introduce students beginning the Master’s in Urban Planning program to the planning profession

Provide information on alternative models and approaches to urban planning

Become familiar with current and newly-evolving issues facing planning professionals

Provide an orientation to areas of specialization, including those offered in the master’s program

General method of instruction

The course format includes readings, lectures, individual and team exercises, and group discussions. As a result of an intentional decision by the Department of Urban Design and Planning, a series of speakers will be visiting the class throughout the quarter and will provide their perspectives on current planning practices and challenges. (Many of the speakers are from the Department’s Professionals Council.)

Recommended preparation

see Reading List - by course unit

Class assignments and grading

Several short exercises are assigned during the course. These are designed to give students a “hands-on” experience in dealing with some of the topics treated in the class sessions and readings. The assignments are designed to give students an opportunity to select and critically synthesize information from the readings and discussions. A more detailed hand-out will be provided in advance for each exercise explaining the specifics and expectations for the assignment.

• Exercise # 1: Brief Paper on planning theory – 19 October • Quiz – Planning Terminology – 26 October • Exercise # 2: Review of a Comprehensive Plan –select a plan by 12 October – review due on 16 November • Exercise # 3: Brief Paper on a specialized area of planning – due on 5 December • Final Exam: take-home examination with short essay questions - based on issues covered in the course (distributed on 7 December – due back one week later)

The 3 short exercises, as well as the quiz, are each worth 15% (15% x 4 = 60%). The final examination is worth 30%. Class participation is worth 5 % of the grade; and class attendance is worth the final 5 % of the grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Rocky E. Piro
Date: 09/27/2011