Land Use and Environmental Planning Concentration

Graduates with this concentration of study find positions as local or regional land-use planners, urban designers, environmental analysts with state and national agencies and nongovernmental organizations, or infrastructure and comprehensive development planners in the private sector.

Students focus on actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of cities and regions. Students study topics including land-use and urban design plans, "smart growth" policies, public spaces in cities, strategies for increasing housing opportunities, land-use regulation including zoning and site development plans, and the redevelopment and preservation of urban neighborhoods.

With this concentration, students develop the knowledge and skills to:

  • Draft urban design guidelines and policies
  • Conduct environmental impact assessments
  • Conduct analyses such as suitability studies to inform the preparation of land-use plans
  • Utilize geographical information systems (GIS) to study neighborhood or land-use change
  • Facilitate community participation and help resolve environmental and development disputes

The land use, environmental planning, and urban design concentration focuses on how planners help guide the physical transformation, rehabilitation, design, and preservation of cities and regions. In this concentration, students may further specialize in one of two areas — land use and environment or urban design.

Listed below are suggestions for the concentrations. These are only suggestions, as the hallmark of Cornell University's graduate program is individual flexibility where each student develops his/her own program of study in consultation with his/her faculty committee.

Area 1: Land use and environment expectations

Students selecting the land-use and environmental planning area may wish to complete the following list:

  • CRP 5071 City and Regional Planning WorkshopCity and Regional Planning workshop courses focus on planning issues and problems that combine several of the topics undertaken in the various workshop categories. Topics may include public policy issues regarding land use, transportation, public space, municipal services, environmental impact, housing and economic development, and public participation.
  • CRP 5072 Land Use, Environmental Planning, and Urban Design WorkshopLand Use and Environmental Planning workshop courses focus on the forces and actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of natural landscapes, cities, and regions. Participants provide technical assistance to communities, and have the opportunity to work with communities in resolving critical planning issues. Topics may include development of land use and natural conservation plans, community redevelopment plans, design and analysis of public spaces, and strategies for making communities more environmentally and economically sustainable.Land Use and Environmental Planning workshop courses focus on the forces and actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of natural landscapes, cities, and regions. Participants provide technical assistance to communities, and have the opportunity to work with communities in resolving critical planning issues. Topics may include development of land use and natural conservation plans, community redevelopment plans, design and analysis of public spaces, and strategies for making communities more environmentally and economically sustainable.
  • CRP 5080 Introduction to GIS for PlannersThis course is designed to provide students with a conceptual understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and sciences, practical hands on experience with GIS software, and understanding of how GIS can be applied to planning practice and research. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts, structures, and functions of GIS as well as their applications and limitations.  By the end of this course students should be familiar with a range of available tools and methods to address planning related problems and issues, and be able to conceive of and manage a GIS project. This involves a) identifying a planning analysis/research problem that requires GIS data and spatial analysis to address/analyze the problem; and b) collecting, processing, and analyzing spatial data to interpret the findings.This course is designed to provide students with a conceptual understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and sciences, practical hands on experience with GIS software, and understanding of how GIS can be applied to planning practice and research. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts, structures, and functions of GIS as well as their applications and limitations.  By the end of this course students should be familiar with a range of available tools and methods to address planning related problems and issues, and be able to conceive of and manage a GIS project. This involves a) identifying a planning analysis/research problem that requires GIS data and spatial analysis to address/analyze the problem; and b) collecting, processing, and analyzing spatial data to interpret the findings.
  • CRP 5440 Resource Management and Environmental LawIntroduces the application of legal concepts and processes to the management of natural resources and natural-resource areas. Explores the role of the common law, statutory law, administrative regulations, and judicial decisions in managing these resources. Particular focus is given to the management of wildlife, wetlands, and critical resources on public lands, and to the conflicts inherent in government attempts to regulate important natural resources on private lands.Introduces the application of legal concepts and processes to the management of natural resources and natural-resource areas. Explores the role of the common law, statutory law, administrative regulations, and judicial decisions in managing these resources. Particular focus is given to the management of wildlife, wetlands, and critical resources on public lands, and to the conflicts inherent in government attempts to regulate important natural resources on private lands.
  • CRP 5460 Introduction to Community and Environmental Dispute ResolutionExplores the theories and techniques of dispute resolution as they apply to community, environmental, and related public-policy disputes. Analysis complements skill-building. Issues of power, participation, and strategy are central to our examinations of negotiation and mediation practice.
  • CRP 5530 Land-Use Planning MethodsThis course provides an introduction to land use planning methods, especially those that are used in comprehensive planning by local governments and regional framework plans. The course surveys analytical and participatory methods to shape land use and urban form and to guide infrastructure provision in order to achieve more sustainable urban systems. Land use planning concepts and methods are included at other scales as well, including statewide frameworks for Smart Growth and small area plans. Other skills include the application of planning support tools and geodesign methods, drafting and applying land use regulations such as zoning and Smart Codes; creation of natural resource inventories, conservation areas, and green infrastructure plans, and planning at the nexus of transportation and land use. Includes methods of participation in land use planning processes.
  • CRP 5440 Resource Management and Environmental LawIntroduces the application of legal concepts and processes to the management of natural resources and natural-resource areas. Explores the role of the common law, statutory law, administrative regulations, and judicial decisions in managing these resources. Particular focus is given to the management of wildlife, wetlands, and critical resources on public lands, and to the conflicts inherent in government attempts to regulate important natural resources on private lands.Introduces the application of legal concepts and processes to the management of natural resources and natural-resource areas. Explores the role of the common law, statutory law, administrative regulations, and judicial decisions in managing these resources. Particular focus is given to the management of wildlife, wetlands, and critical resources on public lands, and to the conflicts inherent in government attempts to regulate important natural resources on private lands.
  • CRP 5540 Introduction to Environmental PlanningAddressing environmental problems and issues from a planning perspective is cross-sectoral (it covers multiple mediums and disciplines), comprehensive, contested (there are value differences attributed to the environment), and procedural (the process by which we reach decisions about the environment). Due to the broad and varied terrain of the material, this course will engage the students in both the substance and the process of environmental planning through a number of highly participatory activities. Topics to be addressed include the regulatory and policy making environment, environmental risk assessment, environmental equity and justice, and environmental planning tools, including among others, cost-benefit analysis, and environmental impact assessment.
  • CRP 5560 Creating the Built EnvironmentReal estate professionals and city and regional planners play a vital role in creating the built environment. Understanding the physical form of real estate, and the rules that govern that form, is critically important if one is to meaningfully engage in the practice of real estate development. In this course, we examine in detail the physical form of the built environment, and students gain an understanding of the principles and organizing strategies that underlie it. We examine the following building types in depth: residential, retail, hotel and mixed use. Students exit this course with a deeper understanding of why the built environment takes the shape it does and the opportunities for innovations.Real estate professionals and city and regional planners play a vital role in creating the built environment. Understanding the physical form of real estate, and the rules that govern that form, is critically important if one is to meaningfully engage in the practice of real estate development. In this course, we examine in detail the physical form of the built environment, and students gain an understanding of the principles and organizing strategies that underlie it. We examine the following building types in depth: residential, retail, hotel and mixed use. Students exit this course with a deeper understanding of why the built environment takes the shape it does and the opportunities for innovations.
  • CRP 5562 Zoning, Entitlements and Subdivision RegulationThis course provides a broad overview of the public entitlement processes for real estate development, including land use & zoning law, entitlements, and subdivision regulation processes found in most U.S. cities and towns. The course provides a platform for understanding the real estate industry and the often conflicting forces that affect development.  Students undertake a self-selected real estate development project, including site selection, planning, and complete a comprehensive entitlement due diligence. Student projects focus on real-world skills and require professional-level reports suitable for oral and written presentations.
  • CRP 5840 Green CitiesCities are centers of innovation, economic growth, social mobility, and they provide economies of scale in the provision of infrastructure and social services. However, cities are also sites of growing socio-economic inequalities and environmental problems. Do cities provide the opportunity to address environmental problems, or are they rather the source of pollution and environmental degradation? Are cities the appropriate scale at which to address environmental problems? Are these really urban issues or do cities just cluster resource use and problems so they are more visible? What role does the built or physical environment have in impacting our behavior and decision making? This course examines social, economic, cultural, political and environmental dimensions of sustainability and sustainable development in urban areas.
  • CRP 5850 Special Topics: Adaptation to Climate ChangeThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to planning. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 5850 Special Topics: Environmental Impact ReviewThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to planning. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 6290: Advanced Topics in GIS: Spatial StatisticsThis course is designed to engage graduate level planning students in some more advanced topics using GIS methodology. Topics may vary from year to year, but in the past, the course has included an introduction to spatial statistics. Topics addressed include exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial autocorrelation, point pattern analysis, spatial interpolation techniques, spatial regression (including geographically weighted regression), and both spatial lag and spatial error models. 
  • CRP 6580 Residential and Commercial DevelopmentExplores the residential and commercial-development process from site acquisition through delivery of the finished product. Topics include market feasibility, land planning and acquisition, product selection and design, project financing and feasibility, schedule and budgetary controls, contracting and construction, marketing, and sales activities. Composition of the development project team is discussed. Classes are supplemented by visiting professionals. The course includes a semester-long project based on an actual property and market opportunity.
  • CRP 6597 Real Estate Competitions: ULI HinesThe ULI Hines Competition challenges students to collaborate across disciplines and imagine a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development program for a real site in a North American city, providing designs, market-based financial data, and related narratives.The ULI Hines Competition challenges students to collaborate across disciplines and imagine a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development program for a real site in a North American city, providing designs, market-based financial data, and related narratives.

Area 2: Urban design/physical planning expectations

Students selecting the urban design area may wish to complete the following classes in the area of urban design and preservation. They also draw on offerings from the Cornell Baker Program of Real Estate as well as those from landscape architecture:

  • CRP 5072 Land Use, Environmental Planning, and Urban Design WorkshopLand Use and Environmental Planning workshop courses focus on the forces and actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of natural landscapes, cities, and regions. Participants provide technical assistance to communities, and have the opportunity to work with communities in resolving critical planning issues. Topics may include development of land use and natural conservation plans, community redevelopment plans, design and analysis of public spaces, and strategies for making communities more environmentally and economically sustainable.Land Use and Environmental Planning workshop courses focus on the forces and actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of natural landscapes, cities, and regions. Participants provide technical assistance to communities, and have the opportunity to work with communities in resolving critical planning issues. Topics may include development of land use and natural conservation plans, community redevelopment plans, design and analysis of public spaces, and strategies for making communities more environmentally and economically sustainable.
  • CRP 5073 Historic Preservation Planning WorkshopHistoric Preservation Planning workshop courses take students into the field to engage in a range of problems, from conducting a historic resources survey working in a city, town, or village in the region, to developing a scheme for revitalization of an entire neighborhood, to a site-specific economic analysis for the renovation of a surplus school.
  • CRP 5080 Introduction to GIS for PlannersThis course is designed to provide students with a conceptual understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and sciences, practical hands on experience with GIS software, and understanding of how GIS can be applied to planning practice and research. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts, structures, and functions of GIS as well as their applications and limitations.  By the end of this course students should be familiar with a range of available tools and methods to address planning related problems and issues, and be able to conceive of and manage a GIS project. This involves a) identifying a planning analysis/research problem that requires GIS data and spatial analysis to address/analyze the problem; and b) collecting, processing, and analyzing spatial data to interpret the findings.This course is designed to provide students with a conceptual understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and sciences, practical hands on experience with GIS software, and understanding of how GIS can be applied to planning practice and research. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts, structures, and functions of GIS as well as their applications and limitations.  By the end of this course students should be familiar with a range of available tools and methods to address planning related problems and issues, and be able to conceive of and manage a GIS project. This involves a) identifying a planning analysis/research problem that requires GIS data and spatial analysis to address/analyze the problem; and b) collecting, processing, and analyzing spatial data to interpret the findings.
  • CRP 5348 Design ConnectDesign Connect Workshop is the for-credit option for students participating in the local and regional projects solicited, reviewed and executed by the independent student organization of the same name.  It provides planning and design services to upstate New York communities. Student teams engage community partners to create conceptual designs, with research and analysis, participatory visioning and design charrettes, town and master planning for public spaces. Course can be repeated for credit.
  • CRP 5560 Creating the Built EnvironmentReal estate professionals and city and regional planners play a vital role in creating the built environment. Understanding the physical form of real estate, and the rules that govern that form, is critically important if one is to meaningfully engage in the practice of real estate development. In this course, we examine in detail the physical form of the built environment, and students gain an understanding of the principles and organizing strategies that underlie it. We examine the following building types in depth: residential, retail, hotel and mixed use. Students exit this course with a deeper understanding of why the built environment takes the shape it does and the opportunities for innovations.Real estate professionals and city and regional planners play a vital role in creating the built environment. Understanding the physical form of real estate, and the rules that govern that form, is critically important if one is to meaningfully engage in the practice of real estate development. In this course, we examine in detail the physical form of the built environment, and students gain an understanding of the principles and organizing strategies that underlie it. We examine the following building types in depth: residential, retail, hotel and mixed use. Students exit this course with a deeper understanding of why the built environment takes the shape it does and the opportunities for innovations.
  • CRP 5590 Legal Aspects of Land-Use PlanningSurvey of leading cases and legal concepts in land-use planning, with particular attention to zoning, subdivision control, condemnation, and growth-control issues.
  • CRP 5650 Historic Preservation Planning WorkshopWork on applied problems in history and preservation planning in a field or laboratory setting or both.
  • CRP 5670 Measured DrawingsPresents the basic techniques of studying, sketching, and measuring a building and the preparation of a finished drawing set according to Historic American Building Survey standards. Techniques taught include hand drawing, AutoCAD, and other relevant skills and software. Students will prepare individually, or in small groups, comprehensive graphic documentation for a property.
  • CRP 5850 Special Topics: Urban Design Principles and MethodsThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to planning. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 5851 Special Topics: Introduction to Physical PlanningThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of design. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 5851 Special Topics: Graphic CommunicationsThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of design. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 6597 Real Estate Competitions: ULI HinesThe ULI Hines Competition challenges students to collaborate across disciplines and imagine a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development program for a real site in a North American city, providing designs, market-based financial data, and related narratives.The ULI Hines Competition challenges students to collaborate across disciplines and imagine a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development program for a real site in a North American city, providing designs, market-based financial data, and related narratives.
  • LA 7020 Advanced Design Studio (urban design offerings, in particular, the spring capstone)

Students interested in land use and urban design may be interested in participating in the ULI Hines competition. A preparatory course is held during the winter break. In addition, students may also be interested in offerings from the Baker Program in Real Estate, design and environmental analysis, and landscape architecture. Depending on their interest and career goals, some students may be interested in pursuing a dual degree with either the landscape architecture or real estate program. Students should discuss these options with their advisor.