The Iowa planning program facilitates and encourages student involvement with the practice of planning and with planning practitioners in a variety of ways during the two-year program. This involvement is an essential component of a student's preparation for a planning career.

Program Seminar

A required course during the student's first semester, this seminar introduces students to essential professional skills they will need and use in their careers through presentations by visiting professionals who introduce students to a diversity of issues and illustrate how these skills are used in professional practice.

Sustainable Communities Lab

Required during the second year, this yearlong capstone course requires teams of students to work on real-world projects for city and regional planning agencies and nonprofit community organizations in Iowa. Each team must work with the client agency throughout the year to develop a plan or report that is presented to that agency at the end of the spring semester.

In 2009, the school formed the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities as a way to help the university meet the sustainability goals outlined by President Sally Mason in her 2008 Earth Day message. Specifically, it focuses capstone projects on addressing the sustainability challenges faced by Iowa cities, towns, and regions.

The capstone project is a unique opportunity to apply knowledge gained in classes to current community issues while drawing on faculty support, advice, and critiques to improve the quality of the work. Students find their final reports are important as evidence of their ability to produce professional-quality work when applying for jobs.

Adjunct Faculty and Practice Courses

The curriculum regularly includes two to four courses on various aspects of planning practice taught by adjunct faculty who are professional planners with many years of experience.

Student Participation in Planning Conferences

The program and the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) support student participation in state, regional, and national conferences sponsored by the APA or by other planning-related professional groups. These conferences are a valuable means of learning about the diversity of issues currently engaging the planning profession.