University senate unversity at albany state university of new york

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Page of

Senate Bill 1112-10


Introduced by: UAC

Date: May 14, 2012


  1. That this takes effect for the Fall 2012 semester.

  1. That this proposal be forwarded to President George M. Philip for approval.

August 30, 2011

Dean Elga Wulfert

College of Arts and Sciences

University at Albany

1400 Washington Ave

Albany, New York 12222
Dear Dean Wulfert,

The Department of Geography and Planning is pleased to submit this proposal to formalize the Urban Studies and Planning, faculty initiated interdisciplinary Bachelors of Arts degree. At the April 27, 2011 Faculty Meeting, the department faculty unanimously agreed to submit this plan for review and approval by Faculty Senate, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Provost and President of the University at Albany.

As you may recall, the Geography and Planning faculty approved the proposal, our Interim Chair, Dr. Catherine Lawson, requested input from the Department Chairs of CAS at the April 13, 2011 Council of Chairs meeting.  The discussion was positive, though limited.  In addition, there has been no negative feedback from any affected units

If you have any questions or need additional information regarding our proposal, please do not hesitate to contact David Lewis, Director of the Urban Studies and Planning program. Thank you for time and effort in this matter.


David A. Lewis

Associate Professor

Director, Urban Studies and Planning

College of Arts and Sciences

Course and Program Action Form

Proposal No.


Please check one:

Course Proposal


Program Proposal

Please mark all that apply:

New Course

Revision of:






Shared-Resources Course


Deactivate/Activate Course (boldface & underline as appropriate)


Other (specify):

Program of study


Geography & Planning

Effective Semester, Year:

Fall 2012

Course Number




Course Title:

Course Description to appear in Bulletin:

Prerequisites statement to be appended to description in Bulletin:

If S/U is to be designated as the only grading system in the course, check here:

This course is (will be) cross listed with (i.e., CAS ###):

This course is (will be) a shared-resources course with (i.e., CAS ###):

Explanation of proposal:

Change from Faculty-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major with a Concentration in Urban Studies and Planning to Full Departmental Major in Urban Studies and Planning.

Other departments or schools which offer similar or related courses and which have certified that this proposal does not overlap their offering:

Chair of Proposing Department


Christopher J. Smith


Approved by Chair(s) of Departments having cross-listed course(s) [Copy of e-mail approval on following page.]


Dean of College


Christopher J. Smith


Gregory Stevens/Edelgard Wulfert


Chair of Academic Programs Committee


Dean of Undergraduate or Graduate Studies


Pinka Chatterji


Undergraduate Major Proposal:

BA in Urban Studies & Planning

submitted to
Dr. Elga Wulfert
Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
by the faculty of the
Department of Geography and Planning

August 23, 2011

Table of Contents
Program Proposal
Mission of the Program
USP Program and the University’s Strategic Goals
Proposed Degree Requirements for the Major in Urban Studies and Planning [Proposed Bulletin Copy]

Continuity of Courses and General Education Offerings

New Courses

Advisement and Mentoring

Department Faculty Engagement
Full Time Faculty
Adjunct Faculty
Historical Context
Structure of the Existing Faculty-Initiated Major in Urban Studies and Planning
Regional and National Context of the Program
Appendix 1: Course Descriptions
Appendix 2: Geography and Planning Program Trends
Appendix 3: Characteristics of Recent USP students
Appendix 4: Faculty Bio Sketches from Self Study

The Department of Geography and Planning has administered a successful, faculty-initiated major in Urban Studies and Planning since 1995. We propose here to change the program to a full departmental major.
The University at Albany is strongly engaged in research and education in a host of areas germane to urbanism including public policy, urban and regional planning, regionalism and economic development, environmentalism and globalization. A full disciplinary major in Urban Studies provides undergraduates with a natural entrée into this wealth of intellectual opportunity at many of our institutional peers. Both urban studies (in the liberal arts) and the professional disciplines of urban and regional planning have emerged as popular and substantial academic disciplines in American universities, with recognized professional associations, congresses, journals, book series, and educational and research practices. The Department of Geography and Planning has had a Masters Program in Urban & Regional Planning since 1982 (it was fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board in 1999). The department has been the administrative home of a successful faculty-initiated major in Urban Studies and Planning (USP) since 1995.
The USP program has proved very popular and has grown steadily. It has contributed significantly to the overall mission of the Department of Geography and Planning, to General Education, and to interdisciplinary initiatives within the University, including Environmental Sciences, Information Science, East Asian Studies, and other fields, through joint appointments, cross-disciplinary research and teaching, and other linkages. Particularly important is the range of opportunities the USP major provides for students to engage in research related to urbanization and urban planning, and in internships, studios, and other “hands-on” engagements with the local community.
Although both the existing and the proposed USP programs are liberal arts majors, our students have greatly benefited from the fact that the department also houses a fully accredited, professional, graduate planning program. This fact, which differentiates the program in the region and is reflected in its name, has proved particularly attractive to students over the past decade. In 2009 the number of full and part-time declared majors was 60). Over the past five academic years, the program has averaged 17 graduates per year.
During the same time (1997-2010) the department’s faculty has grown from 10 to 13 with a commensurate increase in the range and depth of our collective expertise in urban studies. However, the recent budget climate has resulted in the loss of one senior faculty to retirement and a junior faculty to relocation. Still, now is the appropriate time to move the major forward to departmental status to ensure its long term survival, strengthen the University’s mission to be an engaged university, to expand the potential of the program and to improve the student learning experience through restructuring the curriculum as well as expanded advisement. Furthermore, recent occupation trends indicate that the field of Urban and Regional Planning is expanding and considered among the best current and future careers.1 The increasing visibility of the discipline should result in increased demand. Formalizing the major will enable the Department and University to meet this demand and contribute to the goal set forth in the University’s mission statement.
We have been strongly encouraged in developing this proposal in discussions with the College of Arts and Sciences since the time of the University’s Compact Planning process. The idea was also strongly supported in the external Program Review of the Geography and Planning completed in May 2006.
In developing the proposed revisions to the program we have been particularly careful to preserve and enhance four strengths of the existing faculty-initiated major that were underlined in our recent external review.

  • General Education Along with other Geography and Planning courses, departmental USP courses make an extraordinary contribution to multiple categories of the University’s General Education program. The restructured USP program will do the same.

  • Cognate Coursework The University at Albany offers a wealth of urban-related courses across several departments and schools. The cognate portion of the existing USP program encourages students to explore these opportunities. The revised program requires the same number of cognate credits, but does so in a more flexible way, allowing students to tap into rapidly changing course content in cognate disciplines.

  • Community Engagement All programs in the Geography and Planning Department have been very successful in encouraging students to work on internship, studio, and field projects in local communities. The revised USP program formalizes this Community Engagement requirement in a way its predecessor did not.

  • International Focus Department faculty possess exceptionally wide international experience in East Asia (particularly China), Latin America, Europe, and Canada. These strengths are reflected in their research accomplishments, in cross-departmental affiliations (for example with EAS and LACUS, in the Urban Studies and Planning curriculum (e.g. GOG 225, PLN 320), and by participation in interdisciplinary endeavors such as the Globalization Studies Major.

Because the existing USP program has matured and succeeded for over a decade as a faculty-initiated major, we are requesting expedited review as specified in the SUNY

Handbook for the Submission of Undergraduate Academic Program Proposals.

Program Proposal
The proposed Urban Studies and Planning Major is designed for students interested in a liberal arts education focusing on urban and suburban environments, and on urban, community and neighborhood development, with both a local and a global focus. The program of study mixes conventional classes with fieldwork, computer-based learning, and internships, and it requires considerable awareness of international, multicultural and policy issues. Students with training in Urban Studies and Planning are prepared to enter careers in housing and community development, real estate, local and state government, local economic development, or local planning. They can pursue further study in graduate or professional schools to specialize in city and regional planning, urban geography, public policy, real estate, architecture, or landscape architecture
The Mission of the Program

The learning objectives the proposed departmental USP major are as follows:

To develop in students:

  • A knowledge of urbanism and urbanization as historic, geographic, social, and cultural processes.

  • An understanding of the historical development and contemporary condition of US cities and metropolitan areas.

  • A comparative understanding of global patterns of urbanism and urbanization, stimulating global awareness and knowledge of the role of urbanization in global change.

  • An introduction to the principles and practices of urban planning, in the United States and other parts of the world.

  • A multidisciplinary understanding of urban related issues growing from exposure to the disciplines of Geography, Planning, and at least one cognate field.

To provide for students:

  • A multi-dimensional participatory learning experience, combining conventional classes, fieldwork, and independent study.

  • A strong exposure to analytical methods, including statistics, GIS, and remote sensing.

  • Access to career training, networking with area planning professional, and other resume-enhancing opportunities.

Students in the program will benefit from our bidisciplinary department in many ways. Through our graduate planning program advanced majors have direct access to some first-year graduate planning offerings in shared-resources courses (400-500 level). They also benefit from a departmental culture including many full-time graduate students in planning engaged in a variety of highly visible projects including studios. Similarly, they benefit from the presence of undergraduate and graduate students in the various fields of Geography and Geographic Information Systems, and from faculty deeply engaged in many varieties of urban, regional, international, and environmental research.

Distinctive assets of the Department of Geography and Planning in accomplishing program goals include the following:

  • Strong engagement of full-time senior faculty in all levels of undergraduate education, both for our majors and for General Education constituencies.

  • The incorporation of expert local practitioners as adjunct faculty and instructors in areas such as transportation, planning law, environmental planning and analysis, and a variety of GIS (Geographic Information Science) applications;

  • Aggressive development of opportunities for students to gain direct experience in research and professional practice, through the major’s internship program.

  • Emphasis on the use of innovative technology, provided in large part by the department’s experts in the fields of GIS, GPS (Global Positioning Systems), remote sensing, and statistical methods.

  • Introducing students to the unique resources and opportunities the Capital Region provides to gain practical and professional experience though internship, studio, and similar programs.

  • Recognition that, although Geography and Planning is (and has been for many years) the natural departmental home for USP, a variety of urban-oriented coursework is available in other departments and schools at the University. Within the constraints set by colleagues in these programs, we strongly encourage USP students to explore these courses through our cognate requirement.

The USP Program and the University’s Strategic Goals
The USP major lies at the heart of the Department of Geography and Planning’s efforts to serve the larger undergraduate community of the University at Albany. This service is multi-dimensional, occurring through the courses offered, the joint appointments of the faculty in other departments on campus, the cross-listed courses, the contributions to the General Education Program, and various other disciplinary and interdisciplinary endeavors. In addition, the community based research agenda, internships, coupled with the department’s collaboration with local professionals, all levels of government, and community partners create a unique learning environment and forwards the University’s vision to:
put knowledge and talent to work through diverse collaborations to benefit the people and communities of the region, state, nation and world.”
Through the USP program, the faculty in the Department of Geography and Planning work to promote:

  • Enhanced understanding of places, cities, regions, environments, and the processes of globalization, migration, and social and cultural change in geographic context.

  • Access for qualified students to instruction in widely applicable analytic tools such as GIS, global positioning systems, remote sensing, image analysis and cartography.

  • Improved skills in oral discourse, writing, statistical analysis, and information literacy.

  • Better understanding of how the methods and approaches of the natural and social sciences are brought to bear on urban, environmental, and regional issues.

  • Appreciation of the distinctive contributions of geography, urban studies, and planning, and an understanding of their place in the academic and professional division of labor.

The USP major addresses directly the problems of metropolitan areas, especially the Capital Region and the New York Metropolitan Region, which is an important component of the University at Albany’s long term mission. The major has been successful in providing outreach opportunities and for the most part it has attracted socially and politically-conscious students who want to change the nature of the environment they live in.

Another important goal of the University at Albany involves reaching-out to minority populations in the Capital Region and other metropolitan regions in New York State. There is a high concentration of minority populations in the large metropolitan regions of the state, especially inner-city areas, and Albany’s USP major creates important new opportunities in that regard. Two of the most significant of these are: the USP major provides an attractive option for minority students and has been relatively successful in recruiting students, many of them from the state’s urban centers, into the program. In addition, many of the courses within the USP major allow students the opportunity to learn about and discuss a variety of issues related to ethnic diversity, both in the local and the global context. In a broader sense, the USP major is one of the few programs at this University that truly allows and requires students to "think globally” while acting “locally" and it strongly supports the University’s effort to become engaged with the community.
Proposed Degree Requirements for the Major in Urban Studies and Planning [Proposed Bulletin Copy]

More than 80% of the American population lives in metropolitan areas. The Urban Studies and Planning Major is designed for students seeking a deeper understanding of these metropolitan communities: cities, suburbs, and the urban way of life with all their problems and opportunities in the 21st Century. The program of study mixes conventional classes with fieldwork and computer-based learning, and it requires considerable awareness of international, multicultural and policy issues. Core and cognate courses open up many perspectives on cities for students within the liberal arts, but the program also provides students with a strong introduction to urban and regional planning. Graduates are well equipped to pursue graduate work in urban affairs and several liberal arts disciplines, or to enter professional degree programs in city and regional planning, public policy, real estate, architecture, or landscape architecture; or directly to pursue careers in housing and community development, historic preservation, local and state government, regional economic development, and environmental planning.

General Program B.A.: A minimum of 36 credits including (see table1):

Five core courses (15 Credits) as follows: USP 101 (=GOG 125), USP 203 (=GOG 225, GLO225), USP 201 (=PLN 220), USP 202 (=GOG 220); plus one methods course chosen from the following list, or as advised: USP 385, GOG 390, GOG 414, GOG 479, USP 456 (= GOG 496), USP 324 (=GOG 324), USP 452, GOG 480, GOG 484, GOG 485, GOG 498.

12 credits of elective courses chosen from the following: USP 266 (=GOG 266 = GLO 266), USP 315, USP 321 (=GOG 321), USP 320, USP 330, USP 328 (=GOG 328 =WSS 328), USP 425, USP 426, USP 430, USP 436, USP 443, USP 449, USP 451, USP 452, USP 460, USP 475, USP 480 (=GOG 480), USP 485, USP 497

3 Credits of community engagement work chosen from the following: USP 437, USP 474, USP 476, USP 490, USP 497.

6 credits of cognate coursework: as advised, chosen from upper-division urban-related coursework in departments outside G&P including but not limited to: Anthropology, Economics, Education, History, Political Science, Public Administration and Policy, Sociology, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women’s Studies, Environmental Science, and selected courses in the Humanities (including English and Art).

Continuity of Courses and General Education Offerings

All the courses listed in the requirements above are extant, and no changes in their General Education designations are envisioned. (Curriculum development plans for the new major are discussed below).

Approval of the major will involve a new undergraduate course prefix, USP. It will replace the PLN prefix on all undergraduate courses. This change is reflected in the courses listed above. Thus USP 201 will replace PLN 220. With this one exception, the numerical portion of current PLN courses will be the same in their new USP versions (see table 1).

The prefix PLN will be retained for graduate-level planning courses. Thus a shared resource course such as Urban Design (currently PLN 475/575) will now appear as USP 475/PLN 575.

At present three courses with GOG prefixes are required in the USP major. USP versions of these courses will be offered, while retaining the GOG prefix as a cross-list, thus: USP 101 = GOG 125, USP 203 = GOG 225, USP 201 =PLN 220, USP 202 = GOG 220. Where appropriate GOG cross lists will also be retained in elective courses. (e.g. USP 480 = GOG 480).

Advisement and Mentoring

The proposed USP major will be unrestricted, and students will be recruited to it in the usual fashion, through outreach and publicity in ASC/US, in our own lower division courses, and through appropriate efforts at “feeder” schools to attract transfer students directly into the major. At present the Department of Geography and Planning uses a “centralized” model of advisement: the program directors of each undergraduate program advise most or all declared majors in that program unless they choose to be advised by another faculty member with whom they happen to have worked closely. These advisors perform all the traditional functions of advisement: general mentoring, orientation to the major, substantive and procedural advisement in the major, supervision of many internships and orientation to the career world. Our student opinion survey suggests it would be better to disperse advisement more widely among faculty, at least to the extent of encouraging students to seek counsel and perhaps formal advisement from faculty for whom they feel a particular personal or intellectual affinity. Currently, only the USP Program Director provides advisement. As part of the formalization, a minimum of two Department of Geography and Planning faculty will be responsible for advising the USP majors and minors.

We should note that the proposed USP program addresses one concern that students and faculty expressed in our recent Self-Study. Because of the relatively rigid structure of the cognate requirement in the existing program, and because the department has no control over the frequency and timing of course offerings in other departments, an unnecessarily large amount of advisement time has been spent helping students fulfill the requirement, or helping them find intellectually acceptable alternatives. The more flexible structure of cognate courses in the proposed major will help mitigate this problem.

The advisors for the existing USP program have played a significant role in encouraging the students in the major to consider taking specific courses that can provide them with “transferable skills” that will be useful to them in their future careers. The most important of these over the years have been courses that provide quantitative skills, including statistics, computing, GIS, GPS, and remote sensing, all of which are useful as on-the-job skills and attractive to potential employers. Other courses that have proved to be useful to USP majors have been internships with a variety of private and public agencies, both locally and in the region. Students typically explore all available opportunities themselves, often using information or contacts provided by the advisor or other faculty. Then the advisor usually steps in to oversee the process: discussing what will be done with the supervisor and generally making sure that the student will be doing valuable work during the Internship. At the end of the semester the supervisor and the advisor would normally have another conversation to discuss how well the student had performed his/her duties, including a consultation about the final grade for the course (most internships are S/U graded).

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