UrbanPlan Why & What

UrbanPlan students discover the dynamic - and often frustrating - fundamental challenges of development: how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment.

UrbanPlan Why & What

Why UrbanPlan – Closing the Knowledge Gap

The United States will add 60 million people in the next 20 years. As our population grows, our citizens are asked to make increasingly difficult land use policy decisions. Where and how will we, our children and future generations live, work, shop and travel from place to place?

Our answers to these questions will determine how we accommodate growth on our limited land resources without sacrificing the livability of our neighborhoods or violating our sense of community. Yet nothing in our education arms us with the language and skills to become problem-solving participants in this process that is so critical to our quality of life and the vitality of our democracy.We don’t learn how the forces of our market economy interact with those of our representative democracy to create the built environment. We don’t experience the trade-offs that must happen in development and the multiple consequences of each trade-off.

If we are to effectively address the challenge of our growing population and improve our communities as they grow, we must elevate the sophistication of the discourse at the local level. That is why ULI members across the country support UrbanPlan in their local schools, providing tomorrow’s voters, neighbors, community leaders, public officials, and land use professionals with the insights and language to become engaged and informed problem-solvers.

What is UrbanPlan?

UrbanPlan is a 15-class hour project-based learning curriculum unit developed for high school juniors and seniors in economics and government classes.

Student development teams respond to an RFP to redevelop a 5 ½ block site in a fictional city. Through the process, they discover the dynamic fundamental challenges of development: how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment.

UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging and academically challenging classroom-based curriculum providing high school seniors hands-on experience with the issues, tradeoffs and economics of land use planning and urban redevelopment. Students learn how market forces (e.g. supply and demand) interact with non-market forces (e.g. regulations, politics, and interest groups).  UrbanPlan is an award winning curriculum developed by the Fisher School of Economics, University of California, Berkeley.

For more information download our UrbanPlan FAQ or contact Carrie Martin at carrie.martin@ULI.org.

George Lucas Educational Foundation: Spotlight on UrbanPlan from ULI San Francisco on Vimeo.