UrbanPlan is a project-based learning curriculum unit for high schools and universities. Bringing together disciplines such as economics, city government, real estate and urban planning, UrbanPlan engages students to consider the myriad of complex decisions that shape our built environment. UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging, and academically demanding classroom-based curriculum in which students learn about the fundamental forces that affect development in the United States. Students experience the challenging issues, private and public sector roles, complex trade-offs, and fundamental economics in play when proposing realistic land use solutions to vexing growth challenges.
What is UrbanPlan?
UrbanPlan is a curriculum unit for core content classes at the university and high school levels.
The Mission of UrbanPlan is to create a more sophisticated level of discourse among local stakeholders involved in land use decisions through education of tomorrow’s voters, neighbors, community leaders, public officials, and land use professionals so, together, we can create better communities.
Through UrbanPlan, students discover how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the nonmarket forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment. This insight provides an essential foundation for any sophisticated land use discussion.
How it Works
Through UrbanPlan’s 15-hour classroom curriculum, students learn the essence of development: how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the non-market forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment – providing the foundation required for any informed land use discussion. Over the course of the exercise, ULI member volunteers who are local land use professionals interact with the students on a regular basis. As “facilitators” in the classroom, they challenge the students to think more critically about the UrbanPlan issues and the specific responsibilities of the students assigned roles as finance directors, marketing directors, city liaisons, neighborhood liaisons, and site planners. At the end of the exercise, the ULI member volunteers serve on a mock “City Council” to judge the students’ proposals.
ULI Members: Find out what it takes to be an UrbanPlan Volunteer
Teachers and Professors: Learn more about the Curriculum and bring UrbanPlan to your classroom
What Teachers say about UrbanPlan
“If you want students to understand how the concepts of trade-offs, risk, public good, supply and demand, and opportunity cost impact their lives, do UrbanPlan. They get a gut level understanding how these forces influence the decisions they make in their proposals – design, market demand, city revenues, investor return, and neighborhood wants – and these decisions have profound, real world consequences.”
– Ryan Stanley, Economics Teacher, Desert Vista HS, Phoenix, AZ
“Our seniors are required to take a government class and an economics class. They may ace the standardized tests on each subject, but the core concepts often stay in ‘Econ class’ and ‘Government class’ silos. It’s UrbanPlan that makes them understand why these concepts matter, how they manifest in the world around them and how they clash and collaborate to create the built environment.“
– Steve Teel, AP Government Teacher & Doug Powers, AP Economics Teacher Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA
“UrbanPlan helped my students internalize the complex, interrelated, economic, and political aspects of public/private development…. The UP “roles” forced students to experience the impact of each development decision and tradeoff through the lens of a particular stakeholder: developer, politician, neighborhood group. That will have a positive impact on the communities where they will work.“
– Hilary Nixon, PhD. Assistant Professor, Urban & Regional Planning, San Jose State University
Sares Regis Group of Northern California
Rolling Fog Capital
Carr McClellan P.C.
ULI San Francisco Staff