BSURP Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Revised November 2020

The Urban & Regional Planning (URP) Program revised its strategic plan in fall 2017 to align with new College of Social Science priorities. This document presents the goals and priorities of the Program for the coming five years.

Program Vision

Creating sustainable cities and communities through leadership, entrepreneurial creativity, social responsibility, and environmentally sustainable planning and policy.

Program Values

Quality: We hold ourselves to the highest standards to achieve lasting influence.

Inclusiveness: We foster a culture in which all individuals are valued, respected and engaged so that diverse voices can enrich our work.

Engagement: We link with campus and external communities to leverage our strengths and collectively realize our shared goals.

Integrity and Ethics: We are honest, transparent and courageous in our discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

Creativity: We imagine innovative approaches to understand and improve the world.

Advocacy and Empowerment: We equip individuals and communities with the knowledge to make informed and just decisions. 

Undergraduate Program Mission

The mission of the Urban & Regional Planning Program is to prepare students to become practitioners in the planning profession. This is addressed through three broad themes: 

Teaching: To provide future practitioners the knowledge, practical skills, and values to enable them to become effective planners, and to improve the quality of urban places and regions;

Research: To conduct and disseminate research on the “theory and practice” of urban society to plan for more equitable and sustainable communities; and

Outreach: To address community problems by linking knowledge and practice and facilitating mutual learning between community and university.

Goal 1

Provide students with a foundation in planning education practice through a curriculum emphasizing general and specialized knowledge, practice, technical skills, and core values of the planning profession.






1.1 Continue to meet Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) standards on core curriculum requirements for knowledge, skills and values.

Faculty review process for PAB core requirements.


Curriculum meeting PAB expectations for Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning (BSURP).

Monitor changes in PAB standards.

Annual review of curriculum, with appropriate changes implemented.

1.2 Conduct ongoing gap analysis to improve curriculum and course offerings.

Curriculum and courses serve PAB expectations for knowledge, skills and values.


Courses meet PAB content guidelines.

Evaluate results from student learning outcomes, alumni surveys and exit surveys.

Use outcome data to modify courses to meet and enhance expected results.

Supplement courses with workshops and training modules delivered by the Alumni Network or Michigan Association of Planning (MAP).

Supplement courses with opportunities for field work.

1.3 Explore new thematic areas and provide electives based on emerging trends and applications in urban planning.

Identify emerging needs of the profession.

Seek faculty positions to meet emerging knowledge and skill requirements.


Curriculum serves current and future needs of the profession.



Explore opportunities to bring new expertise to the Program. 

Consider creation of new electives, shared courses with other units, or training modules.

1.4 Provide added opportunities for scholarship and engagement in the field

Engagement measures include conference presentations, publications as part of student/faculty teams.


BSURP graduates have the skills and tools necessary to further their education and be effective in the field.

Promote scholarship including presentations at professional meetings and University student research events. 

Promote opportunities for student funding and scholarships. 

Implement brownbag workshops to support student scholarship and build research connections among students and faculty.

 Goal 2

Enhance the curriculum with a thorough introduction of communication and analytical skills applicable to the planning job market, with more opportunities for engaged and experiential learning.






2.1 Assess standards and input received regarding curriculum needs.

Identify curriculum needs and gaps in current content.

Track communications skillsets by course.



Updated curriculum that updates communication and analytical skills.

Alumni survey.

Student survey of interests and needs.

Faculty review of curriculum.

Implementation to start 2020-21.

2.2 Expose students to opportunities for professional development beyond the required curriculum.

Participation in professional planning conferences and events.

Students engaged in undergraduate research opportunities and internships.


Each URP student has experience participating in MAP, Student MAP (SMAP) and American Planning Association (APA) conferences. 

More than ½ of students will have an internship. 

Students will have applied research experience.


Ensure funding for students attending MAP/APA conferences. 

Link employers with students, especially through the alumni network. 

Provide financial support and faculty mentoring for student research. 

Support Urban & Regional Planning Student Association (URPSA) professional events.

2.3 Provide students with the knowledge and experience of global trends and practice in urban planning. 

Global planning presence in the curriculum. 

Students participating in study abroad programs. 

Consider international planning course?

Guest lecture by faculties in foreign universities (online or in-person). 

International experience. 

International students having U.S. experience.



Global perspectives incorporated into curriculum and through student study abroad experience.

Offer annual study abroad programs. 

Provide funding for students on study abroad programs. 

Collaboration with our global partners.

Goal 3

Ensure BSURP curriculum completion within a reasonable timeframe.






3.1 Monitor graduation rates and identify critical factors that achieve satisfactory graduation rates.

Student graduation rates.


Timely progress through the BSURP curriculum.

Identify factors limiting progress (survey of students). 

Promote early entry to major. 

3.2 Ensure timely completion by scheduling curriculum, prerequisites, and course load appropriately. 

Time to degree.


Timely progress through the BSURP curriculum.

Return to Social Science admission system (done). 

Review schedule for course conflicts (revised in 2019). 

Provide range of course options. 

Encourage regular advisor/student meetings.

Goal 4

Address community problems by partnering with public and non-profit organizations and the private sector to enhance knowledge and practice, facilitating mutual learning of university and community.






4.1 Develop a formalized mentoring program, in both traditional public and non-profit or private sector, students.

Students in service-learning placements, faculty supervised independent study courses, and student led-faculty guided practicum experiences. 


Students can access a wide range of professional experiences that apply their planning course content.

Identify external partners offering planning experience.

Faculty promote research experiences that apply planning skills.

4.2 Ensure students are developing professional practice skills before reaching Practicum.

Improved quality and professionalism of practicum projects. 


Better preparation for professional planning practice.

Identify skills to be enhanced for Practicum such as writing, presentations, data-analysis. 

Engage students in community planning projects earlier in their BSURP program.

Develop links to SPDC Sustainable Built Environment Initiative, National Charrette Institute, MSU Extension, and MSU Center for Community and Economic Development.

4.3 Develop internship/job shadowing opportunities.

Students undertaking internships and job shadowing.

Increased networking opportunities.


Students with professional experience prior to Practicum and graduation.


Coordinate internship   announcements and job shadowing opportunities with SPDC Student Services and URP Alumni Network & URP Advisory Board.

4.4 Support a research forum for student research, best practices and peer and professional networking. 

Students having an applied planning research experience prior to graduation.

Number of students who participated in presentations at research fairs or conferences. 


Students have research opportunities and understand research driven decision making in the profession. 

Students attend and present at SMAP conference.

Encourage (extra credit) students to participate in the MSU Undergraduate Research Forum (Mid-Sure, URAF).

Goal 5

Foster a sense of community and inclusion within the School and among URP students, alumni and faculty.                                                                          






5.1 Work to enhance the diversity of our student body through efforts to create an environment of inclusion and respect.

Number and share of students from historically underrepresented groups. 

Create and promote at least one event per semester related to equity and inclusion.


The percentage of students from historically underrepresented groups within the program exceeds by 5-10% the average within the field.



Establish a diversity and inclusion taskforce (current faculty on SPDC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) c0mmittee). 

Elect URP student liaison for inclusion taskforce. 

Maintain active ongoing communication with SPDC DEI Committee.  

Targeted recruitment of historically underrepresented groups in Michigan and nationally. 

Emphasize diversity and inclusion as a core Program value. 

5.2 Work to enhance the diversity of our faculty through efforts to create an environment of inclusion and respect.

Increased range of voices heard by students from URP faculty and guest speakers.


Create an open and engaging environment for faculty and students from diverse backgrounds.

Organize events that recognize the significance of diversity and inclusion in planning. 

Invite speakers to represent different perspectives on planning. 

5.3 Foster an inclusive and active URP student organization.

Increase participation in URPSA. 

Increase in URPSA sponsored activities.




Better connected and in-tune faculty and student relationship. 

Increased MURP and PhD student participation.

Articulate the value of URPSA and membership.

Have a dedicated faculty liaison to URPSA. 

Fundraising assistance, including outreach with alumni. 

Increase current SPDC URPSA funding.

5.4 Effectively utilize alumni, professional  networks, and MAP to provide professional development opportunities for internships, job shadowing, interview skills and networking with MAP professionals.

Increased alumni sponsored activities.

Increase support for social and professional events organized by the student association and the Alumni Group.


Cultivate a strong local alumni group and local Chapter for student faculty and alumni networking and professional development.

Better connections to MAP.

Create social media platforms to keep students engaged with professional opportunities.

Encourage students to participate in MAP activities such as MAP student conference, Young Professionals Network, Alumni Board and other opportunities. 

Invite alumni to give guest lectures, keynote addresses, and participate in regular curricular activities/trends and applications in the urban planning field. 

Establish regular communications between students, alumni, and other professionals regarding professional opportunities.