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

“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 extraordinarily 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

“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

“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

UP Revised Curriculum: What Every Teacher Needs to Know for Academic 2013/2014 webinar from ULI Atlanta on Vimeo. This video is a recording of the September 19, 2013 webinar for trained UP high school teachers and professors, and District Council Chairs and UP staff who work with teachers, classroom materials, teacher and volunteer schedules. Objective: Teachers will learn all content and format modifications that affect pedagogy and student outcomes.

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 I 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.” Additionally, over 98% of all teachers who introduce UrbanPlan (UP) in 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.

Download our UrbanPlan Teachers FAQ document to learn more, including:

  • What is UrbanPlan and who created it?
  • Who should teach UrbanPlan?
  • How does it work in the classroom?
  • What are the threshold competencies required for UrbanPlan?
  • Why is UrbanPlan right for me? My students?
  • Group projects skeptic? Why and how UrbanPlan is different.
  • How does UrbanPlan address core content standards and skills?
  • Why not use a “real project” in my town?
  • What are the resource demands on me and my school?
  • What teacher training is available?