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       Urban & Regional Planning Self-study

I. PURPOSE/DESCRIPTION

A. Overview/Mission/Goals/Objectives

Program Name: Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis

Mission Statement: The Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis Program is an interdisciplinary program, established in 1975, designed to give students majoring in geography, political science, sociology, botany, geosciences, history, and related fields an opportunity to gain a general understanding of the field of planning. The Program is coordinated by a faculty member from the Department of Geography which offers the two required, core courses in land use planning. Consistent with the University’s Mission Statement, and the Geography Department’s mission, the main objectives/goals of the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis Program are to ...
1.) prepare students for immediate employment or further study, i.e., employment or graduate study in land use planning
2.) equip students for civic participation in community planning, e.g., attend planning meetings or serve on planning commissions
3.) provide opportunities for faculty and students to transcend disciplinary boundaries
4) facilitate public service activities, and develop partnerships with the community via service-learning planning projects.

B. Degrees and Courses
The Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis is not a minor degree program, but students can complete the program in lieu of a minor with departmental approval. The Emphasis consists of two required courses in land use planning and a variety of elective courses from other disciplines. For students who wish to complete the Planning Emphasis Program in lieu of a minor, Geography 4410 and 4420 are required as well as 12 hours of interdisciplinary courses (listed below) outside the student’s major (total of 18 credit hours). For students in the Urban and Regional Planning program completing both a major and a minor, the requirements of the major field will be reduced by fifteen hours. They will be replaced by 12 hours of interdisciplinary courses selected outside the major field from the list below.

Required courses (6 credit hours):
Geogr 4410 Land Use Planning Techniques & Practices (3)
Geogr 4420 Advanced Planning Techniques (3)
Electives (12 credit hours):
Botany LS1403 Environment Appreciation (3)
Geogr 3450 Cartography (3)
Geogr 3460 Advanced Cartography (3)
Geogr 3210 Urban Geography (3)
Geogr 3360 Economic Geography (3)
Geosci 4210 Intro to GIS (4)
Geosci 2540 Environmental Geology (4)
Micro LS1153 Elementary Public Health (3)
PolSc 3700 Intro to Public Administration (3)
PolSc 3750 Urban Government & Politics (3)
Soclgy 2850 Sociology of Cities (3)
Soclgy DV3850 Sociology of Urban Life (3)
Soclgy 3300 Environmental Sociology (3)
and a basic statistics course taken in a department of the student's choice.

C. Student Learning Outcomes Assessment and Planning

Learning Outcomes: Students choosing to complete the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis will gain a general understanding of land use planning relevant to their major field of study. Through course work in land use planning (Geography 4410 and 4420) students will learn about the underpinning theory of planning, in addition to contemporary planning techniques and practices. Completion of four additional, three-credit hour courses from the disciplines of geography, political science, sociology, botany, geosciences, history and related fields allows students to pursue the major of their choice while gaining an understanding of planning. Students gain experience in land use planning through “real world” planning projects addressing local community planning issues. When students develop planning documents and make presentations of these planning projects they attain valuable critical thinking skills. Although not a requirement of the emphasis, many students gain direct experience through planning internships with local agencies. Internships reinforce critical thinking skills and knowledge relevant to land use planning.

Outcomes are a direct reflection of the program objectives or goals stated previously: students should be prepared for immediate employment or further study in land use planning; students should be equipped for civic participation in community planning; students from different disciplines should be able to work together effectively; and both students and community members (including planning officials) should benefit from partnered, service-learning land use planning projects.

∙ For 2001-02: Since no assessment methods were developed specifically for the Planning Emphasis prior to fall semester 2002, only findings from an assessment conducted by the Geography Department have been compiled. Although portfolios in the traditional sense are not prepared in the planning courses, drafting of various documents (including text, graphics, and maps), such as master plans for communities, are an essential element of the course work in the program. Planning officials also provide oral feedback during presentations of land use plans (students present plans to the community at planning commission meetings at the end of each spring semester). Several of the master plans presented to surrounding municipalities were of professional quality and have been adopted for official use. A measure of success of the planning document development is whether or not the document is adopted by cities for official use. This provided some indirect assessment of the program. All planning documents are kept on file in the Geography Department by the program coordinator.

More direct assessment can be culled from the Geography Department Graduate Survey, yet these findings do not include students outside the major (80 % of students enrolled in the planning program are Geography majors). From Geography Graduate Survey item # 5, “Geography courses provided me with a firm understanding of the planning industry and issues related to that field,” results showed that of those students who took courses in land use planning, one respondent “strongly agreed,” and another respondent “agreed.” Oral exit interviews confirm these assessment findings.

Off-campus internship programs have been particularly successful in providing planning students with valuable, practical experience. On average, half of the twelve to fifteen students enrolled in the program each year are involved in off-campus internship experiences. Exit interviews conducted with Geography majors have revealed that interns found their experiences to be beneficial in acquiring the skills necessary for planning, and assisted them in making a transition to planning careers. In fact, Geography Graduate Survey item # 6, “Geography internships provided me with a firm understanding of the planning industry and issues related to that field,” showed that those students who had an internship in land use planning strongly agreed with the statement. Oral exit interviews confirm these assessment findings.

Assessment of career placement: Approximately six of the forty-five students who have matriculated through the program in the past four years (1998-2002) have found full time employment as professional planners in municipal planning departments in Farmington, Layton, and Logan, UT; Show Low, AZ; Grants Pass, OR; and Richmond, VA). Three students have gone on to attend graduate programs in planning (Universities of Iowa, Florida and Nova Scotia). One student went on to specialize in environmental law and land use planning at the University of Colorado Law School.

Students enrolled in the program often have an opportunity to become involved in off-campus internships offering them valuable experience in planning career preparation. Students intern with a variety of government agencies such as municipal, county, and state planning and transportation departments, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Other academic departments that offer courses which meet the elective requirements for the program, (geography, political science, sociology, botany, geosciences, history and related fields) are in the process of completing assessments that pertain to supporting interdisciplinary course work.

∙ From 1994-2001, no annual or periodic assessment reports were submitted.

D. Academic Advising
Students choosing to pursue the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis receive advising from the program coordinator in the Department of Geography, and from faculty in supporting departments (see Part E below). When students near graduation or completion of the program they are asked (Geography majors are required) to bring a copy of their transcript to the program coordinator for approval and a signature. Advising for students pursuing the Bachelor of Integrated Studies (BIS) Program requires preapproval as well as final approval and signatures.

E. Personnel (faculty and staff)

1. Faculty
Faculty from the departments of geography, political science, sociology, botany, geosciences, history, and related fields teach courses within the emphasis. The program coordinator from the Department of Geography has typically taught the two core required planning courses.

2. Staff
Although there is no staff assigned specifically to the program, the Geography Department Office Manager provides some assistance when necessary.

F. Library
Students enrolled in courses listed in part B above use a variety of Stewart Library resources, including reference materials, particularly government publications relevant to land use planning, map collections, ariel photo imagery, and texts in the library’s general collections that have been requested by faculty in the program.

G. Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources
Planning courses are taught in campus class rooms equipped with state of the art audio visual equipment, including lap top computers and projection systems. These systems are portable and have been used in presentations to city planning officials. The cartography lab, housed in the Geography Department, has been upgraded to provide high quality document and map production for the drafting of professional quality planning documents.

H. Budget
The program runs on a modest budget with an annual balance of $300 to $400. Funds are generated from $300 to $500 payments made by cities for which master plans have been drafted. Typical printing and copying costs reach $200 to $300 per plan, so the budget maintains a fairly consistent balance from year to year.


II. SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

A. Student enrollment patterns for 1997-2002

Enrollments in the program are indicated by the number of students completing the Planning courses, Geography 4410 and Geography 4420. Enrollments have been as low as 10 students/semester, and as high 20 students/semester, with an average enrollment of 14 students between 1998 and 2002.

B. Significant changes since 1994

No significant changes were made to the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis Program since 1994, although a new (second) program coordinator took over in 1998. The first program assessment was conducted in 2002.

Significant changes made in response to college or department recommendations contained in the 1994 accreditation report: No assessment was made of the Urban and Regional Planning Program in 1994, however assessment of the Bachelor of Integrated Studies (BIS) Program suggested that a coordinating unit be established for all interdisciplinary programs if the University made the decision to enhance these programs.


III. STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES

A. Student Learning Outcomes Assessment and Planning

As noted in Section I, Part C, outcomes assessment data were generated by the Geography Department. While departmental surveys, exit interviews and questionnaires have provided useful information regarding assessment of the Planning Program, independent assessment of the Program needs to be undertaken. Major strengths of the Program are evident from the success of student job placement in planning careers, and the official adoption of two of the master plan documents produced for municipal planning departments. The challenge will be to continually identify local municipal planning departments or other local planning agencies interested in assistance with updates of their comprehensive plans. Another significant challenge will be to attract students from disciplines other than geography to the Program. Typically, 8 out of 10 students are geography majors enrolled in the Program with occasional students from geology, history, political science, and sociology.

The Program has had strong success in placing students in internship positions. On average, there are 3 students/semester working as interns in positions directly related to planning. Again, the challenge will be to create more internship openings for more students interested in these opportunities.

B. Academic Advising

Advising by the Planning Program coordinator is available to students majoring in geography as well as non-majors, but advisors from other disciplines are often unaware of the Planning Program. The obvious challenge is to generate wider awareness of the Program across campus, and provide advisors with information on the Program.

C. Faculty and Staff Evaluation

Although there is no evaluation process specifically for the Program, the coordinator is evaluated during the standard procedure of tenure track faculty review (third and sixth years of service). The strength lies in the rigor of the tenure and promotion review process. The weakness is that faculty who teach elective courses for the Program often do not receive evaluation specific to the Planning Program.

D. Library

The library collection, staff and services adequately support the Program, though most of the materials used in the Program are housed in the Geography Department. The Program coordinator receives full assistance from the library when the purchase of materials extends beyond the Program’s budget.

E. Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

The Planning Program relies upon the facilities, equipment, and other resources available to the Geography Department. The greatest challenge has been to keep up with technological changes (and therefore expenses) in the area of computerized cartography and geographic information systems, both necessary for planning projects and course work The Geography Department is in the process of upgrading its cartography lab, but significant investment is still needed. Hence, the Planning Program relies upon faculty and resources from the Geography Department to enhance the mapping capabilities that are essential to successful planning education.

F. Budget
The Planning Program has a budget of about $400-$500/year that is generated by modest payments from municipal planning agencies for researching and drafting of planning documents. The Geography Department funds the Planning Program in so far as the Program coordinator is a salaried member of the Geography faculty, and all facilities, equipment, and most other resources are made available through the Geography Department. Aside from this fact, the Program survives with no additional institutional funding.


IV. NEXT STEPS/ACTION ITEMS

The following direct and indirect methods will be used in the next steps of assessing the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis Program:

Direct Methods of Assessment
Written and oral exams: A pre-test and post-test will be administered to all students enrolled in the program in an effort to assess the program (to be developed in 2003).

Upon completion of the Program, some students may choose to take the American Institute of Certified Planners written and oral exams (administered by the American Planning Association) after two years of planning career experience. Successful completion of this standardized exam could give an indication of how well students were prepared from course work within the Program. An item querying students about their intentions to take the national exam will be added to the Planning Emphasis Exit Questionnaire (to be developed in 2003).

Performance/presentation: Students enrolled in planning courses (Geogr 4410 and Geogr 4420) give oral and graphic presentations of draft land use plans that are evaluated by planning commission members and other public officials. Written evaluations by planning officials (a standard format will be developed in 2003) will contribute to the overall assessment of student performance in the program, as well as the effectiveness of the program as a whole. (Currently only oral feedback is provided by officials after students have presented plans).

Off-campus/internship/practicum experiences: Internship supervisors will complete an assessment of students enrolled in the planning program, and are asked to assess how well students were prepared for their internship (a standard internship evaluation form will be developed in 2003). (Currently only oral feedback is provided by internship supervisors).

Indirect Methods of Assessment

Exit interviews: Exit interviews conducted by the Geography Department provide some data for assessment of the program (see Assessment results, 2001-2 above), however, not all students completing the program are geography majors. Separate exit interviews of non-geography majors could be conducted by other departments, i.e., there are no current plans to develop exit interviews for non-geography majors..

Alumni surveys: Alumni surveys conducted by the Geography Department provide some data for assessment of the program (Section I, Part C), however, not all students completing the program are geography majors, therefore another survey could be developed independent of the Geography Department, i.e., there are no current plans to develop a new alumni survey form.


V. APPENDICES

Chair of Accreditation Steering Committee:   Ryan Thomas, 626-7931