The School of Planning and Public Affairs is a learning, teaching and research community. These principles of community spell out our values, intentions, as well as best practices guiding our behaviors and interactions.

These principles, initially developed by students, faculty and staff on 2/12/2021, will be revisited annually. It is our intention that SPPA students, faculty and staff will commit to these principles. Implementing these principles requires honing our collective skills over time. Thus, we will regularly make time for open discussions, training, and skill-building as we seek mutual and life-long learning.


  • Honesty and integrity are core values in our teaching, learning, research and administration.
  • We respect the dignity and humanity of all persons. We oppose violence and advocating violence, and seek nonviolent solutions to interpersonal and social issues.
  • We strive to uphold a just community free of discrimination in our interactions, teaching, research, administration, and outreach practices.
  • We recognize the intrinsic connections between diversity of perspectives and experiences, and excellence in learning, teaching, research and administration.
  • We are committed to freedom of expression and open dialogue that respect all perspectives, differences and commonalities, and to creating conditions where everyone feels safe to express their views. To do so, we:
    • Stay open to discussing all ideas, even unsettling ones we may disagree with;
    • Let everyone self-identify rather than identify others (e.g., “POC”, “minority” is not acceptable to everyone, and word usage changes over time);
    • Listen carefully to -and do not silence- others, and validate others’ statements and feelings;
    • Call each other in (i.e., asking for clarification) rather than out (i.e., judging or silencing);
    • Accept and learn from the feedback we receive during mutual learning moments;
    • Show generosity, acceptance, and forgiveness for others and ourselves (no one is perfect), thus giving each other grace and the “benefit of the doubt” (i.e., assuming the best);
    • Take responsibility for our actions, give meaningful apologies when needed, and are accountable for learning and improving our skills (accountability and forgiveness go hand in hand);
    • Pay attention to others’ cues, strive to be sensitive to others’ potential trauma history, and check in with those who might experience inappropriate treatment;
    • Remain mindful of cultural differences and diversity within cultures, and of how words and behaviors might be understood or perceived differently;
    • Acknowledge and be mindful of the power we hold as students, staff and academics, and of the unequal power relationships among ourselves;
  • We show leadership in addressing the most pressing issues facing our local and global communities are central to our educational mission, and guide our curriculum, research, and outreach activities.
  • We promote open and equitable access to opportunities for learning and development for students, staff and faculty.