In pursuit of these goals, the program focuses on the ideas and techniques developed by planners and social activists since the emergence of the planning profession in the early twentieth century. To this, the faculty adds knowledge from the social sciences, architecture and urban design, historic preservation and the humanities.
Throughout the curriculum, the emphasis is on real-world problems and how planners can act to improve the lives of urban residents. In doing so, the program takes the cities of the world as its laboratory. With the program located in New York City, one of the global centers of international commerce and culture and a city experiencing population growth, it looks to the city’s planning issues for studios, classroom examples and thesis topics. Still, the problems of cities — whether they be London or Sao Paulo, Las Vegas or Nairobi — can be understood only in a global context. By the end of their time in the program, students are competent to analyze issues, develop plans and advise policymakers on the important issues related to the growth and development of cities. They do so with the intent of making cities more just, more equitable and more prosperous.
The faculty shares a core pedagogic belief that the best professional education takes place in an environment of learning by doing, reinforced by classroom work and group projects. Planners must have a thorough understanding of the economic, social, political, and physical forces that shape the built environment. These beliefs are implemented through program offerings that include familiarity with the range of analytic and research techniques used by planners, a semester-long studio project, and courses in planning history and theory.
Planning education is designed to produce individuals who have a general knowledge of urban and regional development (and planning interventions to shape that development) and specialized knowledge in a sub‐discipline of planning. The five concentration options include: Housing and Community Development; Urban Analytics; International Planning; Land Use, Transportation, and the Environment; and Urban and Economic Development. Students take a minimum of four courses in a Concentration.