URP Vision/Mission Statement 

The Urban and Regional Planning program’s vision is to promote just and inclusive human settlements in which economic development, environmental enhancement, and social justice jointly contribute to sustainability, resilience, and quality of life at all scales from local to global. Within this context, our mission is to educate professional planners who will be responsible future leaders and decision-makers into the 21st century.

University of Iowa Urban and Regional Planning Program Goals and Objectives

June 24, 2019

The program’s Overall Goals and Objectives have been developed through annual faculty/staff retreats and meetings with students, alumni, the URP Advisory Board, the Iowa APA Board of Directors, and communications with employers of our students and graduates. Our goals and objectives are as follows:

Goal 1 Objectives:

  1. Provide students with the skills they will need in their careers, including technical, analytical, policy-making, leadership, pragmatic, and communication skills.
  2. Review our curriculum annually based on input from student course evaluations, annual exit surveys of graduates, oral final examinations, surveys of internship supervisors, periodic alumni surveys, and input from our Advisory Board, in addition to occasional reviews of a specialization or core sequence.
  3. Revise course content regularly to reflect current professional concerns, scholarly knowledge, and the state of the art in planning. This is done (by individual faculty members and collectively) in response to reviews of exit surveys, student evaluations and new knowledge in planning.
  4. Maintain a record of excellence in teaching by providing faculty feedback from students and peer classroom evaluations.
  5. Continue to improve our career and internship assistance efforts so that all students find internships and jobs when they graduate.
  6. Ensure that graduate students are competent in one or more specialized areas of planning and understand the connections between specialized areas and broader planning concerns. This is achieved through the Field Problems planning project, as well as the oral final examination which asks students to relate their course work to their Field Problems planning project.
  7. Encourage student participation in professional conferences, meetings, and other events (primarily by encouraging and supporting financial aid for student travel to APA Upper Midwest and National Conferences).
  8. Enable students and advisors to balance overall program requirements with individualized plans of study and self-assessments by requiring students to prepare an advisor-approved Plan of Study that is reviewed each semester prior to registration for the next semester. Plans of Study are reviewed by school administration to assure compliance with degree program requirements.
  9. Maintain a breadth of coursework by supporting concentrations in each of the following areas: land use and environment, transportation, economic development, housing and community development, and geographic information systems.
  10. Increase number of students who participate in leadership and service opportunities on and off-campus. On-campus opportunities include membership on university committees, including the University campus planning committee, the parking and transportation committee; the School of Planning and Public Affairs Student Association (SPPASA); and the UI Office of Sustainability. Off-campus opportunities include: serving as a liaison to the Iowa APA Board of Directors, serving on planning boards in the local area, serving as a regional representative to the Student Representative Council of the national APA, participating in community service through SPPASA and individual classes, and participating in various community and beyond social service and change organizations.

Goal 2 Objectives:

  1. Provide exciting and relevant classes, such as the Hong Kong and India Winter Term courses, classes using TILE (Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage) classrooms, bringing students from other departments into the program's classes, use of case studies in teaching and other innovative teaching methods
  2. Find exciting and challenging Field Problems projects that present a variety of professional experiences, and involve students in the selection of Field Problems projects.
  3. Provide support for students’ professional summer experience. This is done in part through internship placement activities, and fundraising for Summer Fellowships for students who are limited in their internship options because they are place-bound, have visa limitations, or lack an automobile.
  4. Encourage and facilitate students’ travel to conferences, readiness to contribute posters and papers at conferences, , as well as field trips (including the SPPASA field trip) by increasing funding for these activities, including through GOLDrush, as well as other ways to encourage and prepare students
  5. Improve the aesthetics of urban and regional planning space by paying attention and improving the appearance of the common areas, drafting room and stairwells (e.g., posting quality posters displaying our students’ work in the stairwells).
  6. Meet regularly with international students and structure opportunities, such as a mentor or buddy system to facilitate their adjustment to life in Iowa.
  7. Enhance advising through self-evaluations every semester, online programs of study, and UI Advise program.
  8. Remain responsive to student feedback, including exit surveys, faculty meetings with student representatives, town hall meetings held each semester, and Advisory Board meetings with students, to revise the curriculum and courses.
  9. Help to facilitate a sense of community among students by providing them space in which they can work and eat as well as encouraging them, through SPPASA, to develop inclusive social activities.
  10. Help to connect current students to alumni in an engaging way by providing opportunities for students to both meet alumni and to hear alumni talk about their work and their careers. Examples include: alumni mentoring, mock interviews, student-alumni social events, alumni presentations.

Goal 3 Objectives:

  1. Strengthen relationships with professional planners throughout our region, through service, research, and educational activities, including participation in the Iowa APA.
  2. Continue to provide planning assistance to communities in Iowa and surrounding areas through the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, which is the umbrella for the second year Field Problems projects.
  3. Strengthen relationships with others who influence planning as policy makers, advocates, developers, or regulators, through service, research and educational activities, including, service on state, national, and local committees, legislative testimony, and research that directly relates to current policy issues.
  4. Contribute to important local, regional and national debates about planning practice and issues, through research and service activities, as well as contributions to the popular media, through op-eds, for example, on important planning related issues.
  5. Participate, with the Iowa Chapter of the APA, in the sponsorship of continuing education events through the Certification Maintenance requirements of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
  6. Encourage students to become AICP certified, including through the AICP Candidate Pilot Program, and to continue their activities with the APA.

Goal 4 Objectives:

  1. Increase the quantity and impact of published research produced by the program’s faculty members in refereed outlets.
  2. Continue to strengthen and support our faculty’s research and scholarly productivity and quality, through collaboration, research assistance, travel support, and computer resources, at least in part, through increased partnership with the Public Policy Center.
  3. Achieve a significant increase in the number and amount of funded research projects in the program, in part through increased cooperation with the UI Public Policy Center
  4. Continue to emphasize maintaining an excellent record of research and scholarship in faculty reviews.
  5. Continue to acknowledge professional service activities that contribute to improving the quality of knowledge about important planning issues.
  6. Continue to invite scholars, professionals and others engaged with key planning issues to present critical views and take part in discussions with faculty and students

Goal 5 Objectives:

  1. Strengthen our efforts to recruit students with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds through direct outreach to colleges and universities with significant minority student enrollments, as well as outreach to minority students currently on campus. Specific means for doing this include: mentoring minority undergraduate students through the Graduate College’s SROP programs, increasing student exchange programs with foreign universities, or employing minority undergraduates through the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.  As well, we will take better advantage of our program’s commitment to social justice and equality, as well as community engagement, to market these attributes to individuals seeking to improve their communities.
  2. Continue to welcome international students and faculty, including through foreign exchange programs, into our planning program.
  3. Maintain and strengthen the diversity of our faculty with regard to race, ethnicity, and gender.

Goal 6 Objective:

  1. Market urban and regional planning more effectively on campus and in our region, especially to minority candidates, by publicizing the master’s program through faculty, staff and student participation in Graduate Fairs and Open Houses.
  2. Offer a new undergraduate course to increase awareness of planning among UI students
  3. Create a new undergraduate planning certificate as well as other 4 + 1 undergrad/grad degree opportunities.
  4. Create Hong Kong summer course to attract undergraduates (as well as graduate students) to urban planning in an exciting and intellectually stimulating environment.
  5. To better serve the state of Iowa, in partnership with other campus units, such as Political Science, we will launch a Master’s degree in Public Affairs. The enrollment in the new MPA program will contribute to our student enrollment and budget.
  6. Attract students to combined degree programs.
  7. Attract students from other departments to planning courses.
  8. Raise the profile of urban and regional planning on campus by continuing to participate in interdisciplinary research, teaching and service activities, including helping the University to meet its public service objectives through the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, Field Problems and other courses while enhancing the overall quality of our teaching and research. Other key collaborations include partnerships with the UI Public Policy Center, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, the Sustainability certificate advisory committee, and various University charter committees.
  9. Further study abroad programs such as the India Winter course, the Hong Kong Course, and the International courses offered by the Iowa Institute for Hydrological Research.
  10. Employ distance learning to increase the variety of students taking our courses, including planning professionals and students from other planning schools.

Goal 7 Objectives:

  1. Increase the level of giving to the school to support financial aid for students and offset the impact of the shift to half-time assistantships, and to support guest speakers, the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities/Field Problems projects, trips to conferences and other significant professional events. In particular, the school should focus attention on raising funds for the Planners of the Future Fund. This is done through fundraising campaigns with the support of our Advisory Board.
  2. Secure adjunct budget to ensure that we can continue to offer courses taught by planning professionals.
  3. Continue to develop our Visiting Scholars programs to raise funds, while also increasing faculty and students’ exposure to international research. Note: this also contributes to Goals 2, 3 and 4.
  4. Increase the level of grant funding to support faculty research and student assistantships.
  5. Increase efficiency of classroom teaching to increase tuition-related revenues by increasing the number of planning students, by increasing the number of non-planning students taking our courses, and by strategically scheduling courses to maximize the number of students per course.
  6. Support the development of online courses by securing (1) funding for faculty to develop these courses and (2) facilities, especially TILE classrooms that can be used for distance learning. This will increase the number of students in our courses.

Goal 8 Objectives:

  1. Improve the regional and national rankings of the program, including obtaining national recognition (top 25 ranking) in Planetizen ranking.
  2. Secure the Transportation concentration.
  3. Encouraging more faculty and student awards by nominating our faculty and students whenever applicable.
  4. Participation of faculty and students in professional organizations.
  5. Encourage faculty to serve on national and international boards and committees.

Goal 9 Objectives:

  1. Continue the contribution of Field Problems, as an autonomous course and as part of the broader Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, to serve communities across the state.
  2. Continue to serve Iowa communities through projects in other courses, e.g., Environmental Policy and Management, Growth Management, Housing Policy.
  3. Ensure that planning faculty and students serve on community boards relevant to planning.