UrbanPlan (UP) is a realistic, engaging, university level PBL curriculum unit for economics and selected government classes. Developed at The Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute and a team of high school economics teachers, UP aligns with state and NCEE content standards. All teachers on the curriculum development team teach in traditional classrooms in traditional public schools.


Teachers Weigh In

“Developing student capacities for critical thinking and dispassionate analysis of complex issues makes them more effective, informed and demagogue-proof participants in civil society – whether they are addressing UrbanPlan’s land use challenges or health care or immigration issues. UrbanPlan is the most powerful and engaging vehicle I have found to accomplish this objective.”
-Shannon Corcoran, Economics teacher, Desert Vista HS, Phoenix, AZ

“Project/problem based learning (PBL) curricula are often over-sold by PBL advocates. PBL’s often provide attractive headlines or TV news clips but must be extraordinaril well crafted pedagogically and logistically to accomplish valuable results –especially given the amount of time required. UrbanPlan stands out as the most professionally-constructed and supported program that I’ve worked with in my 27 years of teaching.”
-Wendy Holm, Economics Master, The Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

“We sometimes confuse providing proper learning environments in which our students can achieve with not allowing them to experience frustration or “fail” in any endeavor. Through the multiple development scenarios students must test in UrbanPlan, students discover that “failure” is analogous to creating and testing hypotheses in science lab. It’s the intellectual process required to develop the “elegant” solution to any complex problem.”
-Kevin Magavern, Economics teacher, Plano Sr. HS, Plano, TX

“Even my AP Government students come to me as essentially “passive learners.” They look for “THE ONE RIGHT ANSWER” from me, or their text book, or the internet. Their critical thinking capacities, tolerance of ambiguity, and understanding that in real life there is rarely “one” answer to complex problems, have been dulled by a system built to prepare students to give the “right answer” on standardized tests. Providence HS is working diligently to change this. UP is my most powerful remedy.”
-Anne McCanless, Government teacher, Providence HS, Charlotte, NC

Is UrbanPlan right for you and your students?

Every teacher teaching UrbanPlan has asked the same questions you are probably
asking yourself now:

  • Can my students perform optimally on their standardized and/or AP tests if Incorporate UrbanPlan in my curriculum?
  • Will the value of the student takeaway be commensurate with the 15 class hours the program requires?
  • I teach 3 to 5 classes a day. I have no time to recruit or manage volunteers and no budget for any materials. Can a real teacher in a real school do this?

These teachers, including those in some of the country’s most demanding high schools, have answered “Yes” to these questions. Additionally, over 98% of all teachers who introduce UrbanPlan (UP) into their curriculum continue teaching the program. Since its introduction in spring 2002 through spring 2011, UP has reached over 20,000 students in 14 states.

Still have questions? Contact Carrie Martin at carrie.martin@ULI.org.