University senate unversity at albany state university of new york



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Regional and National Context of the Program
Geography and Planning are cognate disciplines with a rich dynamic history of reflexive interactions that strengthen them. The University at Albany’s Department has demonstrated the benefits of this relationship and seeks to further nature the success of its Urban Studies and Planning program within this framework.
Contemporary geography is an eclectic, holistic discipline examining, from the spatial perspective, the interaction of physical and human environments, of place, and the organization of space. Broadly, the discipline can be divided into three realms – physical geography, human/cultural geography, and geographic information systems/science (GIS). Geography is, however, more than just a discipline; it is a way of thinking and conceptualizing, of interpreting global events and the world and its components from the dynamic spatial perspectives of scale, area, and distance, which form the theoretical underpinnings of the subject. Spatial thinking and reasoning are increasingly recognized as critical components of education (Learning to Think Spatially, National Research Council Report, 2006). The technical capabilities and advancements in GIS technology and the web are forging new ways of thinking and interpretation, providing unprecedented opportunities for planning, environmental management, and the ever-changing urban global economies of the 21st century. As such, undergraduate training in the spatial perspective, i.e. geography, must provide solid foundations in the physical, cultural, and information management technologies.

The field of Planning is a forward-focused, interdisciplinary, professional-oriented academic discipline that incorporates the spatial reasoning of geography with the theories and methods of economics, political science, sociology, architecture, engineering and environmental science. While there are many definitions of planning, they all contain the same essential qualities. Planning is evidence-based, a forward focused:


dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations.
Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives (American Planning Association 2010, http://www.planning.org/aboutplanning/whatisplanning.htm).”
It is inherently place-based as communities evolve in time and space in a dialectical relationship with the physical and social environment. The two disciplines, geography and planning, are well suited to coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship in a single academic department. There are numerous examples of dual discipline departments that include planning, including: The Geography and Planning Department at Grand Valley State University; The Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Akron; The Department of Geography and Planning at California State University, Chico; The Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University; Geography and Planning Department at Buffalo State, The State University of New York;  The Geography and Planning Department at Westchester State University;  The Geography and Planning Department at University of Toledo; the Department of Geography and Planning at Westfield State College; or the School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University, to mention a few.
To the best of our knowledge there is no national organization that keeps data specifically on urban studies (as opposed to planning) programs in the United States. The program established at UAlbany is a unique bidisciplinary venture, and although we are aware of other similar programs around the country, there is nothing akin to the Association of American Geographers comprehensive surveys of geography departments. One of the problems encountered in trying to compare different urban studies programs systematically, is that they are usually linked to different departments and colleges. Some can be found in colleges of Arts and Science, as is the one at UAlbany; others are attached to or associated with graduate Urban or Urban and Regional Planning programs; still others are located in Schools of Architecture or Public Policy.
All Urban Studies programs we have been able to identify in the Northeast, along with some other programs of interest are presented in Table 3. In the Northeast there are [about] 15 programs granting a baccalaureate. At some other schools there are minor programs; geographically the closest appears to be the interdisciplinary minor Urban Studies at New Paltz. The majority of the baccalaureate programs are titled “Urban Studies.” “Urban Planning” as a baccalaureate degree title tends to be reserved for professional rather that liberal arts programs; this is the strong preference of the Planning Accreditation Board. Rutgers has programs in both Urban Studies and Urban Planning located on different campuses. MIT has a department of “Urban Studies and Planning,” but it grants a “preprofessional” BS degree in Planning. The data strongly suggest a unique regional niche for our program which explicitly combines urban studies and planning into one degree program. The closest analog appears to be the BS degree in “Urban and Regional Analysis & Planning” granted by the State College at Buffalo.
Farther afield, we have identified several “Urban Studies and Planning” degree programs: California State, Northridge (BA), University of New Orleans (BS), San Diego State, University of Maryland, and a similar program a Virginia Commonwealth, where they offer an “Urban Studies and Geography”.
Based on our enrollment data, student focus groups and one-on-one interviews of recent graduates, these programs have not be in direct competition with Albany. Further, the data on transfer students suggests that the USP program is able to draw students from the catchment area of other program in the Northeast and buttresses the findings of student focus groups and interviews.


Table 2: Urban Studies Programs in the Northeast

 

 













BA/BS

 

School

Name of Program/degree

City

Y/N

NY













1

Barnard College, Columbia University




New York

1

1

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Urban Studies

Geneva

1

1

Buffalo State College

Urban and Regional Analysis & Planning

Buffalo

1

1

SUNY New Paltz

Urban Studies

New Paltz

0

1

Queens College

Urban Studies

Flushing

1

1

Vassar College

Urban Studies

Poughkeepsie

1

1

Fordham University

Urban Studies

Bronx

1

1

Hunter College

Urban Studies

New York

1

1

Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus

Urban Studies

Brooklyn

0

1

Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, New School University

No urban studies, Housing and Community development, Social Policy, Etc see folder

New York

1

1

New York University

Metropolitan Studies

New York

1

1

Pratt Institute




Brooklyn

0

1

College of Mount Saint Vincent

Urban & Multicultural Education

Riverdale

0
















NJ













1

Rutgers University Newark

Urban Studies

Newark

1

1

Rutgers University New Brunswick

Urban Planning

New Brunswick

1

1

Rutgers University Camden

Urban Studies

Camden

1




New Jersey Institute of Technology

Urban Systems

Newark

0

1

Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Joint-Degree Programs and Certificates Urban and Regional Planning and Public Policy

Princeton

0
















CN













1

University of Connecticut

Urban Studies

Storrs

1

1

Southern Connecticut State University

Urban Studies

New Haven

0

1

Connecticut College

Urban Studies

New London

1
















MA













0

Boston University

Urban Studies and Public Policy

Boston

1?

1

Northeastern University




Boston

?

1

Smith College

Urban Studies

Northampton,

0

1

Tufts University

Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning

Medford

0

1

Wellesley College

Urban Studies?

Wellesley

1?

1

Worcester State College

Urban Studies

Worcester

1

1

MIT

Urban Studies and Planning

Cambridge

1
















Other Urban Studies and Planning Program







1

Virginia Commonwealth University

Urban Studies and Planning

Richmond

1

1

University of California San Diego

Urban Studies and Planning

San Diego

1

1

California State University Northridge

Urban Studies and Planning

Northridge

1

1

University of New Orleans

Urban Studies and Planning

New Orleans

1

1

MIT

Urban Studies and Planning

Cambridge

1

1

University of Maryland

Urban Studies and Planning

College Park

0
















Others of potential interest










1

University of Pennsylvania

Urban Studies

Philadelphia

1

1

Brown University

Urban Studies

Providence

1

1

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Urban Studies

Milwaukee

1

1

Portland State University

Community Development

Portland

1

1

University of Toronto

Urban Studies

Toronto

1

1

University of Pittsburgh

Urban Studies

Pittsburgh

1


Resources

For nearly two decades the Department of Geography and Planning has hosted the faculty initiated major in Urban Studies and Planning. It growth has been steady and significant. Recent external evaluations of the USP program as well as the Masters in Regional Planning indicates there is a symbiotic relationship across the planning and geography disciplines and that the undergraduate USP program is a significant pipeline for high quality students into the MRP program. The formalization of the USP major would strengthen the program and enhance its capacity to contribute to the Department’s, College’s and University’s missions.


Formalizing and revising the USP program will be resource neutral at worst, and should create additional efficiencies with the Department of Geography and Planning. The current support staff has been engaged in the development of this proposal, and their knowledge of the administrative elements has been incorporated, with an eye to reducing inconsistencies and known barriers. Two significant problems identified are the need to deactivate some courses and revise the cognate requirements that have needed numerous advisor approved substitutions to ensure the successful graduation of our students. In essence the recommended changes should reduce the administrative effort necessary to support the USP program as currently formulated.

APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Course Descriptions
Core Courses

A USP 101 The American City (3) (=present GOG 125)

Reviews social, economic, political and physical characteristics of American cities resulting from key events (e.g. industrial development, European immigration, suburbanization, the Civil Rights Movement). Examines the relationship between these events and current urban issues. Specific topics include: de-industrialization, women in the workforce, homelessness, poverty, environmental degradation, health care, and AIDS. Considers the influence of race, ethnicity, class and gender factors on the character of cities



A USP 201 Introductory Urban Planning (3) (= present PLN 220)

Introduces the basic concepts and techniques of urban planning and provides an overview of planning history. Covers land use, transportation, environment, urban design, economic development and social issues. Explores the connections between planning and politics, economic restructuring, social change, and competing ideologies of urban form.



A USP 202 Introductory Urban  Geography (3) (= present GOG 220)

Introductory survey of findings and theory of urban geography, which deals with the form and function of cities. Major themes include: history of urban form; spatial structure of modern urban systems; and the internal structure of the city, emphasizing social and economic patterns.



A USP 203 World Cities (3) (=present GOG 225 and GLO225)

Introduction to the geography of cities around the world and to the role of cities in the world system. Covers: origins and spread of urbanism in different cultural settings; levels of urbanization in space and time; urban form and land-use; rural-urban interaction; city systems and megacities; distinctive features of contemporary American cities. A GOG 225Z is the writing intensive version of A GOG 225; only one of the two courses may be taken for credit.



Methods Course: One of …

A USP 324 The City on Computer (3) (= present GOG 324)

An introduction to the use of geographic technology in studying urban features and patterns. The course provides a conceptual bridge between introductory courses in urban geography and specialized courses in geographic techniques. Students will acquire familiarity with relevant software, data sources and methods of analysis through regular computing laboratory assignments. Prerequisite(s): any two of the following: A GOG 125, 220, 225/225Z, A PLN 220.



A PLN 375 Methods of Urban Analysis

This class will build a foundation for the lager field of statistical analysis and planning methodologies. Students will develop fundamental skills, such as data collection and presentation, descriptive analysis, and data interpretation. When the course successfully completed, students will be to identify different types of data, accurate present data in table and graphic format, describe and analysis data using statistic tools such as measures of central tendency and dispersion, conduct hypothesis testing, build confidence intervals and use these tools to analyze places.



A GOG 385 Introduction to Remote Sensing of Environment (4)

Introduction to the concepts and interdisciplinary applications of remote sensing. The basic principles of theory and practice are presented for earth resource management. Photographic and nonphotographic sensors are examined. Visual and digital image analysis techniques are introduced. Students will interpret color infrared, multispectral, radar, and other sensor imagery for a variety of purposes. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior class standing, or permission of instructor.



A GOG 390 Intermediate Cartography (3)

Techniques of reproduction graphics with emphasis on map planning and construction. Utilization of half-tone, color-key, and other production processes as models of cartographic expression. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 290.



A GOG 414 Computer Mapping (3)

Introduces the student to the fundamental techniques and applications of automated map production. Lectures include discussions of algorithm and program development as well as existing software packages. Students will also be introduced to current problems and research in automated map production. Covers a wide range of topics including but not limited to automated drafting, computer generated projections, coordinate systems and transformations, data structures and discussions of algorithms for specific applications. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 290 or permission of instructor.



A GOG 479 Fundamentals of Applied Global Positioning Systems (GPS) (3)

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of global positioning system technology as applied to the geosciences. Topics include background and history, signal structure, resolution, accuracy, data collection techniques, basic geodesy, projections and data, and applications. Field work and lab exercises complement lecture material.

Any statistics courses as advised.

Elective Courses: 12 Credits from:

A USP 315Z State and Regional Planning (3) (present PLN 315Z)

Reviews the theory and practice of state and regional planning in the United States, evaluating a range of contemporary examples. Covers metropolitan regional planning, river basin planning, regional water resource management, state planning and growth management, and environmental impact assessment. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220.



A USP 320 International Urban Planning (3) (present PLN 320)

Provides a general introduction to urban planning as it is practiced in various countries around the world. For each of the countries covered there will be a discussion of the changing context of urbanization and economic development within which contemporary urban planning has emerged. A PLN 320Z is the writing intensive version of A PLN 320; only one of the two courses may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): Either A GOG 220 or A PLN 220 or permission of instructor. [GC OD]



A USP 321 (= A LCS 321 and A EAS 321) Exploring the Multicultural City (3) (= present GOG 321)

This course will explore the human dimensions and implications of ethnic diversity in the United States, focusing on New York City. The course utilizes a variety of methods to introduce students to the multicultural city, beginning in the classroom but ending with fieldwork in a specific New York neighborhood. A GOG 321 is equivalent in content to A LCS 321 and A EAS 321; only one of the three courses may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 102 or 102Z or 120Z or 125 or 160 or 160Z or 220,or 240. [OD SS]



A USP 328 (= A GOG 328 and A WSS 328) Gender, Space and Place (3) (= present PLN 328)

Power relations and categories of social difference are reflected by dramatic inequalities in local environments, and in the quantity and quality of available space. This course examines, through the lenses of feminist geography and planning, how space is invested with social meaning. It discusses how the built environment affects and reflects relations of gender, sexuality and ethnicity, and considers how these social classifications produce “geographies of difference.” Gender is also related to nationalism, colonialism, “geographic skills,” and feminist research methodologies. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 125 or A PLN 220 or permission of instructor.



A USP 330 (=A GOG 330) Principles of Environmental Management (3) (present PLN 330)

Examines issues and problems arising from the interactions between humans and their physical environment. Explores the degradation of environmental systems resulting from human use and modification, as well as the impact of environmental processes on human systems. The policy options for dealing with environmental issues and problems are investigated. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 101 and either A GOG 201 or A PLN 220; or permission of instructor. [OD]



A USP 420 Introduction to Real Estate Development (3) (present PLN 420)

A general introduction to real estate development as an important element in the urban economy and as a field of urban planning activity. Covers legal, economic, and financial perspectives. Emphasis is placed on market analysis and mortgage finance for residential real estate. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220, or permission of instructor.



A USP 425 Community Development and Neighborhood Planning (3) (present PLN 425)

Examines the challenges and opportunities of neighborhood and community planning, with an emphasis on older cities and neighborhoods. Assesses the relationship between neighborhood decline and other problems and obstacles faced by urban areas (e.g., concentrated poverty, loss of employment opportunities, discrimination and red-lining, fiscal disparities, etc.) Case studies of neighborhood and community development initiatives in various American cities are examined to explore the causes and consequences of neighborhood decline, and possible strategies for reversing community decline. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 125 or A PLN 220.



A USP 426 Community Development and Neighborhood Planning Workshop (1–4) (presently PLN 426)

Provides students an opportunity to obtain “real world” experience assisting a local community or neighborhood group. Students work under supervision on both team and individual projects that address specific needs of communities (e.g. housing, education, public safety, transportation, health) in the Capital District. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 425.



A USP 430/Z (= A GOG 430/Z) Environmental Planning (3) (present PLN 430)

Environmental planning is much more than preservation of pristine land. Through the examination of environmental movements, energy policy, the land use-transportation nexus, environmental justice, and environmental policy formation, at the end of this course, students will be able to: (1) identify how normative bias influences planning and policy choices; (2) describe major conflicts in environmental planning and policy; and (3) understand the relationship of scale and environmental planning/policy options. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 or permission of instructor.



A USP 432 Parks, Preservation, and Heritage Planning (3) (present PLN 432)

Explains the rise of heritage planning as a unifying theme to link environmental, land-use, and community planning. Integrates parks, greenways, historic preservation, and cultural resources as means to develop and preserve the distinctive character of local communities, to foster local pride, and to promote tourism. Discusses the origins, organization and management of heritage programs, and the special problems of heritage planning for minority groups and bygone cultures. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220, or permission of instructor.



A USP 436 Landscape Planning (3) (present PLN 436)

Explores the theory and practice of large-scale landscape planning and examines issues of human use, exploitation, and protection of the landscape. Draws from the practice of landscape architecture and community planning and outlines the principles of environmentally-based land-use planning. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior class standing, and A PLN 220 and A GOG 101, or equivalent courses.



A USP 443 Transportation History and Policy (3) (present PLN 443)

Examines the history of transportation systems and policy in the United States. Emphasis on understanding the political and social forces that influence decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels. The roles of corporate investment, and of citizen interests and participation are examined. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 or permission of the instructor.



A USP 449 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Planning (3) (present PLN 449)

Covers planning, design, implementation and management of systems of non-motorized transportation, particularly the ‘human-powered’ modes of bicycling and walking. Involves students in the design of bikeways, walkways, intersections and parking facilities, and in the evaluation of alternative transportation technologies. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 or permission of instructor.



A USP 452 (formerly A PLN 450) CADD in Planning (3) (present PLN 452)

Applies the concepts and theories underlying Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) to site planning, urban design and land-use mapping, including 2D concept diagrams, site plan detail and 3D perspectives. Also reviews rendering, 4D applications, visualization, and CADD management.



A USP 456 (= A GOG 496) Geographic Information Systems (3) (present PLN 456)

Introduction to the structure, design, and application of data base management systems designed to accept large volumes of spatial data derived from various sources. The student will learn how to efficiently store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and display these data according to a variety of user-defined specifications. Prerequisite(s): familiarity with maps and coordinate systems.



A PLN 460 People, Place, and Power

This course will examine the relationships between current energy supplies and alternatives that are renewable and more environmentally sustainable. It begin with defining energy then turns to an analysis of the economic, social, political, and technological factors that determine the potential a carbon free energy future. At the end of this course, students will be able to 1) identify how normative bias influences planning and policy choices; 2) describe major conflicts in energy planning and policy; and 3) understand the differences between physical/technological barriers versus economic/political impediments to sustainable energy planning/policy options.


A USP 475 Urban Design (3) (present PLN 475)

Introduction to the theory, rationale and practice of urban design. Covers design and layout criteria, regulation and review, and case studies of the urban design process. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 or permission of instructor.



A USP 480 Advanced Urban Geography (3) (= present GOG 480)

Explores some of the theoretical debates and empirical research conducted by geographers and planners interested in the contemporary city. Adopts a political/economy approach to the investigation of social problems currently pervasive in the capitalist city, including: inner city poverty and the underclass, homelessness, gender-related issues, racial segregation; and crime problems. Prerequisite(s): A GOG 102Z or 102 or A GOG 210 or A GOG 220.



A USP 485 Topics in Planning (1-4) (present PLN 485)

Selected topics in specific sub-fields of planning. Topics will be indicated in the course schedule and in departmental announcements. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 and junior or senior class standing.



Community Engagement. At least 3 cr. of:

A USP 437 Landscape Planning Workshop (3-4) (present PLN 437)

Creation of a landscape plan for a local or regional agency or nonprofit. Plan will balance protection of the natural and cultural environment with the need for human uses of the landscape including community growth and development. Draws from the practice of landscape architecture and community planning, and includes field research, community consultation, report writing and mapping. Students serve as team members in the preparation of the plan. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior class standing, A PLN 220 and GOG 101 or equivalents, and GIS (A GOG 496/A PLN 456 or proficient ArcView or MapInfo user skills).



A USP 474 Site Planning (3) (present PLN 474)

This course is designed as a workshop for students to be introduced to the practical aspects of site planning – a specific site in the region is studied and plans developed for future new use or renewal of the site. Experience is gained in recording site conditions, use; influence of microclimate, landform; condition of existing building on the site and adjacent to it. The site is analyzed for future potential within the context of existing community policies and regulations. Alternative proposals for future use are drawn up and evaluated for appropriateness, context, and design quality. During the course students will record, photograph, annotate site information, draw up plans to scale, develop a concise planning report incorporating data, analysis, and plan. Team work is encouraged, with small teams organized to develop projects.



A USP 476 Urban Design and Site Planning Workshop (1-4) (present PLN 476)

Involves students in supervised team projects doing practical urban design and/or site planning work. Through investigation, fieldwork and discussion, student groups prepare proposals for the design and layout of a specific site or axis. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220.



A USP 490 Planning Internship (3) (present 490)

Provides students with practical work experience in the general field of urban and regional planning. Internship placements are typically with federal, state, or local government agencies, consultancy firms, community development corporations, or private, voluntary or political action groups specializing in a specific sub-field relating to planning. Supervisor’s reference and final report required. Internships are open only to qualified juniors and seniors who have an overall grade point average of 2.50 or higher. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 and permission of instructor. S/U graded.



A USP 497 Independent Study in Planning (2–4) (present PLN 497)

Provides an opportunity for students with a strong interest in a specific topic or sub-field in urban and regional planning to do directed reading, independent study or research with faculty supervision. May be repeated once, but not for more than a total of 6 credit hours. Prerequisite(s): A PLN 220 and junior or senior class standing.


Appendix 2: Geography and Planning Program Trends

(Source: G&P Self-Stud and UAlbany Registrar Data)
The following data (courtesy of Barbara Wilkinson) show the number of students matriculating in each of the department’s programs since 2001. The current faculty-initiated USP major is the department’s largest undergraduate program.













Urban Studies BA Program, Declared Majors










Annual Cohort

Full-time

Part-time

Total

2001-2002

38

3

41

2002-2003

44

3

47

2003-2004

49

3

52

2004-2005

46

2

48

2005-2006

41

2

43

2006-2007

40

3

43

2007-2008

31

6

37

2008-2009

48

4

52

2009-2010

52

8

60

5-year ave.

42.5

3.3

45.8















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