The Mission of UrbanPlan is to create a more civil and sophisticated dialogue about land use at the local level through the education of our future voters, neighbors, public officials, and land use professionals.


What is UrbanPlan?

UrbanPlan is a 15 class hour project-based learning curriculum unit developed for two student populations: 1) high school juniors and seniors in economics and government classes; and 2) university graduate students in land use focused disciplines: city planning, MBA real estate, architecture, and law.

Student development teams respond to an RFP to redevelop a 5 ½ block site from a mythical 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.

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.

Impact (so far)

UrbanPlan has reached over 20,000 high school and university students across the country since 2003.

More ULI members, including trustees, governors and product council members, participate in UrbanPlan than any other national or local ULI program.

In October 2010, The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) selected UrbanPlan as one of only 20 programs running in the United States – grades k through 12 – for their “What Works in Education” series. GLEF’s mission is to create awareness of innovative and effective curricula and program models in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Their video about UrbanPlan: Developing Minds (located on the right of this page) can be downloaded from iTunes University.

What does it take?

The generosity and commitment of ULIAtlanta’s members and sponsors enable us to sustain and grow UrbanPlan. Thanks to these contributions, we are able to provide all materials and training free of charge to our teachers, students, and volunteers