Now is a great time to study city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Worldwide, it is planners who are managing the continuing migration to cities; working to upgrade slum housing, and finding practical solutions to problems of climate change and environmental degradation. Closer to home, it is planners who are renewing and redesigning the nation's characterless suburbs; protecting vulnerable communities from the effects of the financial meltdown; and turning sustainability from a buzzword into realistic best practices.
At PennPlanning, our approach is to give you the knowledge and especially the skills you will need to take on these challenges. Working with our sister graduate programs in PennDesign and elsewhere on the Penn campus, we will teach you the quantitative and digital skills you will need to analyze urban communities and to visualize alternative futures. You will learn how historical and institutional contexts shape planning practice, as well as how to work with community members to break bureaucratic logjams and think outside the box. You will learn how to create synergies between subfields, whether it is connecting real estate to affordable housing, transit-oriented development to urban design, or land use planning to community agriculture and public health.
Most of all, you will have the opportunity to directly apply your skills and test your ideas in real communities, cities and regions through our first-year community planning Workshop and second-year planning project Studio. For example, for their Workshop requirement, last-year's 1st-year Master of City Planning (MCP) class worked hand in hand with Philadelphia's City Planning Commission to develop detailed area development plans for eight of Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods as part of Planning Commission's first effort in 40 years to revise Philadelphia's Comprehensive Plan.
Second-year MCP Studios took on equally difficult and real tasks. One looked at how to secure financing for the high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor. Another looked at developing a coherent and citywide strategy for reusing Philadelphia's 40,000 vacant land parcels. A third looked at how the principles of compact development and walkability could be applied in the suburbs around Fort Worth Texas.
Not all PennPlanning studios are domestic. For the fall 2010 Urban Design Studio, students traveled to the Caribbean island of Aruba to work with local government officials to produce plans for re-using old industrial areas, and turning tourist and traffic-oriented byways into authentic and walkable public places for tourists and locals alike. Other recent international project studios have focused on Dubai and South Korea.
PennPlanning's two-year, 19 credit-unit MCP program is organized into seven units of core courses, four units of workshop and studio, four or five units of concentration courses, and four or five units of free electives. All MCP students must complete one of our five concentrations (Community and Economic Development, Land Use and Environmental Planning, Public-Private Development, Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning, and Urban Design) as well as complete a summer internship between their first and second years.
If you are interested in advancing knowledge yourself, Penn is a great place to undertake a Planning PhD. Our collaborative approach to a PhD education mixes history, theory and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Our weekly PhD seminar allows students to work with the planning faculty and each other to do their best work, as well as hear from the nation' leading urban researchers, and participate in cutting-edge symposia and sponsored research projects.
Penn has a long tradition of undertaking research that makes a difference in people's lives. In the 1950s, Penn helped lead the social science revolution in city planning. In the 1960s, Penn faculty originated advocacy planning and were among the first to apply regional methods to urban issues. Today, through the Penn Institute of Urban Research (PIUR) and PennPraxis, Penn faculty, researchers and students are taking on issues of sprawl and farmland protection, community-wide energy conservation, promoting healthy lifestyles in economically-depressed communities, and identifying the jobs of the future for young urban residents.
The biggest PennPlanning advantage of all is that we are located in PennDesign, enabling planning students to also take courses in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, GIS, Historic Preservation, and even Fine Arts. To make interdisciplinary and cross-departmental studies easier, PennDesign offers multiple interdisciplinary certificate programs in such topic areas as real estate, land conservation, urban design, redevelopment, and energy-efficient building design which students may take in addition to their planning concentrations.
And when you are done studying, your professional life beckons. PennPlanning graduates go to work for planning and design consultants; city agencies; business and development groups; regional planning agencies; state planning agencies, private developers, non-profit community and affordable housing developers, community advocacy groups, land conservation groups, public policy research organizations, architecture and urban design firms, and national and international planning and development groups. The typical PennPlanning graduate, like the typical planner, can expect to have many positions over the course of their career, and our goal at PennPlanning is to give you the skills and knowledge to become a planning leader.
Having trained nearly 2000 city planners, PennPlanning's pride is its student body-past, present, and future. If you are an alum, please feel free to e-mail us (email@example.com) with updates on your career. If you are a current student, your input is, as always, welcome and encouraged. And if you a prospective student thinking about a career in planning, please consider joining us.