Department of City and Regional Planning

New East Building, CB# 3140; (919) 962-3983



City and regional planning is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to improve the quality of life for people in human settlements. Planners are involved, for example, in forecasting what futures may hold for a region, guiding the type and location of new development, analyzing transportation systems, encouraging economic development, protecting the environment, mediating diverse interests, and revitalizing urban neighborhoods. They are involved in designing solutions to pressing societal problems such as urban sprawl, unemployment, homelessness, environmental pollution, and urban decay.

City and regional planners work for a variety of public and private organizations. In the public sector local, state, and federal governments all employ city and regional planners. In the private sector, planners work for development companies, consulting firms, and a variety of nonprofit organizations.

For undergraduates the Department of City and Regional Planning offers basic coursework, opportunities for supervised practical experience, and an academic minor. Undergraduate students take courses in the department for several reasons: to learn about cities and planning systems, to enrich or expand their current area of interest in different aspects of urbanization, or to explore the possibility of graduate work leading to a career in planning. Planning courses allow students to see how the arts and sciences can be applied to improve the prosperity and livability of cities, towns, and rural areas. In this way they help students deepen their appreciation of their major field of study. Some planning courses may fulfill General Education requirements.

Urban Studies and Planning Minor

Five courses (15 credit hours) are needed to fulfill the requirements for the minor in urban studies and planning. The minor requires all students to take a two-course core in urban studies and planning: PLAN 246 Cities of the Future and PLAN 247 Solving Urban Problems. After taking the core courses, students can select three additional PLAN courses numbered 200 through 699. Students can also choose from PLAN courses at the 700- and 800-level with instructor permission.


The department's director of dual-degree and undergraduate programs serves as the primary point of contact for students participating in the minor (see "Contact Information" below). Student advising and approval of equivalent courses are handled through the director. Students also have a primary academic advisor in Steele Building.


The Department of City and Regional Planning is located in New East Building on Cameron Avenue. An important resource available to the department is the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, located in Hickerson House, where the research and service programs of the department are housed. The department has strong ties to the Institute for the Environment. Other research centers that are of interest are Center for Community Capital, Program on Chinese Cities, Carolina Transportation Program, and the UNC Hazards Center.

Graduate School and Career Opportunities

Undergraduates interested in a career in city and regional planning can pursue postgraduate work in planning at UNC–Chapel Hill. The Department of City and Regional Planning offers several degree programs at the graduate level. A two-year program preparing students for advanced positions in professional practice in city and regional planning leads to the degree of master in city and regional planning. A program leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy prepares for careers in teaching and research. Dual graduate degree programs are offered in collaboration with related professional programs (law, business, public administration, public health, landscape architecture, and environmental sciences and engineering).



Emil E. Malizia, Roberto G. Quercia, Daniel A. Rodriguez, William M. Rohe, Yan Song, Dale Whittington.

Associate Professors

Todd BenDor, Nichola Lowe, Noreen McDonald, Mai Nguyen, Meenu Tewari.

Assistant Professors

Nikhil Kaza, T. William Lester, Danielle Spurlock, Andrew Whittemore.

Research Professors

David J. Brower, David H. Moreau, Gavin Smith.

Affiliated Faculty

Richard N.L. Andrews (Public Policy), Michele Berger (Women's and Gender Studies), Maryann Feldman (Public Policy), David J. Hartzell (Kenan–Flagler Business School), Judith W. Wegner (School of Law), Jesse White (School of Government).

Professors Emeriti

Raymond J. Burby, F. Stuart Chapin Jr., David R. Godschalk, Edward J. Kaiser.

Contact Information

Nikhil Kaza, Director of Undergraduate Studies,

Candice Jones, Student Services Manager, CB# 3140, 109 New East, (919) 962-4784.


PLAN–City and Regional Planning

PLAN 50 First-Year Seminar: This Land Is Your Land (3). An issue encountered in managing urban communities and environmental quality concerns rights to land ownership. Environmental regulations limit people's rights to use land as they see fit. This seminar explores processes whereby rights to land, water, and environmental resources of the United States have been acquired, reserved, distributed, and regulated.

PLAN 51 First-Year Seminar: Envisioning Community (3). How is "community" understood as a concept used to describe towns, universities, and other forms of social interaction? This seminar introduces students to urban planning, higher education, and social capital and provides students with opportunities to explore and document local leaders' views concerning the towns' futures and the University's growth.

PLAN 52 First-Year Seminar: Race, Sex, and Place in America (WMST 51) (3). This first-year seminar will expose students to the complex dynamics of race, ethnicity, and gender and how these have shaped the American city since 1945.

PLAN 53 First-Year Seminar: The Changing American Job (3). Explores the changing nature of the American job and the transformative forces–from global trade and outsourcing to corporate restructuring and new skill demands–that have influenced this change.

PLAN 54 First-Year Seminar: Bringing Life Back to Downtown: Commercial Redevelopment of Cities and Towns (3). The seminar seeks to understand the current realities of North Carolina's inner-city communities in the context of their historical evolution and the current proposals for revitalization. Each student selects one city or town for a case study.

PLAN 55 First-Year Seminar: Sustainable Cities (3). How can the sustainability of cities and their ability to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups be improved? In this seminar students will look at the evolution of cities throughout history to find out how they have coped with threats to sustainability.

PLAN 57 First-Year Seminar: What Is a Good City? (3). After studying the forces that have produced the American urban landscape, we will explore the city from the normative perspectives of urban historians, planners and architects, social scientists, social critics, and futurists, as a way for each student to develop her/his own perspective about what a "good city" might be.

PLAN 58 First-Year Seminar: Globalization and the Transformation of Local Economies (3). Using directed readings, participative class exercises, and cases that cut across developed and developing countries, this seminar will focus on how global pressures and economic integration is changing local economies.

PLAN 89 First-Year Seminar: Special Topics (3). Content varies each semester.

PLAN 246 Cities of the Future (3). Introduction to the evolution of cities in history, to the concept of urban morphology or form, and to the different elements or subsystems of the urban system and how they have changed over time.

PLAN 247 Solving Urban Problems (3). Introduction to methods used for solving urban problems. Covers methods employed in subfields of planning to develop an ability to critically evaluate different techniques and approaches used within these disciplines.

PLAN 317 Introduction to Site Planning and Urban Design (3). This course examines site planning as a process of creating the built environment. A site planner considers many things, including site hydrology, topography, building form, access, and regulation. Students will review the theories of urban design that guide site planning, conduct a site analysis and propose a site plan.

PLAN 326 Social Ventures (PLCY 326) (3). Examines students' knowledge and understanding of social entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to addressing complex social needs. Affords students the opportunity to engage in a business planning exercise designed to assist them in establishing and launching a social purpose entrepreneurial venture.

PLAN 330 Principles of Sustainability (ENEC 330) (3). See ENEC 330 for description.

PLAN 420 Community Design and Green Architecture (ENEC 420) (3). See ENEC 420 for description.

PLAN 428 Urban Social Geography (GEOG 428) (3). See GEOG 428 for description.

PLAN 491 Introduction to GIS (GEOG 491) (3). See GEOG 491 for description.

PLAN 526 Principles of Public Finance for Public Policy and Planning (1.5).Provides the foundation of state and local government finance necessary to understand new developments in the provision of infrastructure for economic development.

PLAN 547 Energy, Transportation, and Land Use (3). This course explores the reciprocal connections between energy (production/conversion, distribution, and use), land use, environment, and transportation. Evaluation of federal, state, and local policies on energy conservation and alternative energy sources are emphasized. Students gain skills to analyze impacts, interdependencies, and uncertainties of various energy conservation measures and production technologies.

PLAN 550 Evolution of the American City (3). Examines shaping the urban built environments of the United States from the colonial era to present day. Critically examines forces that shaped our cities, and studies the values, ideals, and motivations underlying efforts to plan and direct physical development of American cities.

PLAN 574 Political Economy of Poverty and Inequality (3). Introduces students to the political economy of poverty alleviation programs. Uses comparative cases to explore what types of projects, tasks, and environments lead to effective and equitable outcomes, and why.

PLAN 575 Real Estate Development (3). Rigorous examination of real estate development from the entrepreneurial and public perspectives. Emphasis on risk management and the inherent uncertainties of development. The four dimensions of real estate are addressed: economic/market, legal/institutional, physical, and financial.

PLAN 585 American Environmental Policy (ENST 585, ENVR 585, PLCY 585) (3). See ENVR 585 for description.

PLAN 590 Special Topics Seminar (1–9). Original research, fieldwork, readings, or discussion of selected planning issues under guidance of a member of the faculty.

PLAN 591 Applied Issues in Geographic Information Systems (3). Prerequisite, GEOG 370 or 491. Applied issues in the use of geographic information systems in terrain analysis, medical geography, biophysical analysis, and population geography.

PLAN 596 Independent Study (1–9). This course permits full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the Department of City and Regional Planning who wish to pursue independent research or an independent project to do so under the direction of a member of the department faculty.

PLAN 636 Urban Transportation Planning (3). Fundamental characteristics of the urban transportation system as a component of urban structure. Methodologies for the analysis of transportation problems, planning urban transportation, and the evaluation of plans.

PLAN 637 Public Transportation (3). Alternative public urban transportation systems including mass transit, innovative transit services, and paratransit, examined from economic, land use, social, technical, and policy perspectives.

PLAN 638 Pedestrian and Bike Transportation (3). This graduate-level course examines the importance of multimodal transportation planning and provides a comprehensive overview of best planning practices to support increased walking and bicycling.

PLAN 641 Ecology and Land Use Planning (3). Integration of the structure, function, and change of ecosystems with a land use planning framework. How land use planning accommodates human use and occupancy within ecological limits to sustain long-term natural system integrity.

PLAN 651 Urban Form and the Design of Cities (3). Lecture course on comparative urbanism and the global evolution of the city form. Examines values and ideals embedded in urban landscapes, seeking to understand how social, economic, and political forces have influenced the development of cities through history.

PLAN 662 Gender Issues in Planning and Development (WMST 662) (3). Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Examination of the environmental and health risks, policy institutions, processes, instruments, policy analysis, and major elements of American environmental policy. Lectures and case studies.

PLAN 663 Diversity and Inequality in Cities (3). Permission of instructor needed for undergraduates. Introduces students in planning to issues related to diversity and inequality. Different aspects of diversity (e.g., gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality/citizenship) will be explored. Examines the relationship between diversity and the unequal distribution of resources and life trajectories.

PLAN 685 Water and Sanitation Planning and Policy in Less Developed Countries (ENVR 685) (3). Permission of the instructor. Seminar on policy and planning approaches for improved community water and sanitation services in developed countries. Topics include the choice of appropriate technology and level of service; cost recovery; water venting; community participation in the management of water systems; and rent-seeking behavior in providing water supplies.

PLAN 686 Policy Instruments for Environmental Management (ENST 686, ENVR 686, PLCY 686) (3). See PLCY 686 for description.

PLAN 687 International Development and Social Change (3). Permission of the instructor. Course explores effect of the global economy on national and community development, effect of environmental degradation processes on development, and strategies to guide social change.

PLAN 691H Honors Seminar in Urban and Regional Studies (3). Permission of the instructor. An overview of the subject matter and methods of investigation for the study of cities and regions. Presentations of original papers prepared by students.