Land Use and Environmental Planning Concentration

The land use and environmental planning concentration focuses on how planners help guide the physical and ecological shape of cities and regions through state and local policy intervention into land-use patterns and environmental protection. Students are engaged in a variety of scales, from local zoning codes to regional housing policy to state-level growth management programs that affect the form and function of urban environments. Graduates with this concentration 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 study a range of topics including sustainable development, land use and urban design plans, "smart growth" policies, state growth management, 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:

  • Evaluate housing policies
  • Conduct environmental impact assessments
  • Conduct 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

Listed below are suggestions for the concentration. 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 employed by local and regional governments. The course surveys analytical and participatory methods to shape urban form and the built environment in order to achieve more equitable and sustainable communities. Methods include the application scenario planning tools and methods, drafting and applying zoning regulations; creation of comprehensive plans, neighborhood, district and corridor plans; conducting inventories of natural and cultural resources, vacant and buildable lands, and community greenhouse gas; and conducting suitable and susceptibility to change analysis, among other methods. The course incorporates methods of community engagement, as well as methods of analysis. Methods are presented in the context of learning about topics to contemporary spatial planning.
  • CRP 5545 Urban Adaptation to Climate ChangeClimate change has severe implications for cities, which have large populations and built environments that are difficult to move. This course considers the implications of climate change for cities, the drivers of vulnerability to climate impacts, and the diverse and often conflicting responses. The course centers how historic class, racial, and other forms of social and spatial injustices contribute to inequitable vulnerability to climate impacts and societal adaptation responses around the world. Students learn to explain core concepts, critically examine how adaptation and resilience planning intersects with existing political, social, and ecological systems, and debate adaptation strategies that have promise in producing transformative change. We draw on readings/ multimedia on theories, policies, and case studies from around the world. Assignments build students' ability to communicate with a variety of audiences using diverse media formats.
  • CRP 5555 Environmental Impact ReviewEnvironmental impact review has evolved and expended in its use and influence in public decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels. New York, with its State Environmental Quality Review process, has had a robust environmental impact review process for four decades. This course is an introductory exploration of environmental impact review in theory and practice, with emphasis on practice in New York.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 5680 Urban Spatial Data AnalyticsThe course will introduce students to a wide array of spatial data analytical techniques and will be organized as follows: 1) Students will use the common Python packages to retrieve, clean, and manage spatial data and integrate them into spatial analyses. Topics may include the basic Python syntax and functions, web scraping zillow data, spatial data cleaning and management using Pandas and Geopandas, and geoprocessing using ArcPy package. 2) Students will analyze and interpret spatial data to answer urban related research questions using a variety of software platforms. Topics may include exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial autocorrelation, point pattern analysis, spatial interpolation techniques and Geostatistics, spatial regression (including geographically weighted regression), as well as spatial lag and spatial error models.
  • CRP 5820 Principles of Site Planning and Urban DesignAn introductory course on the theory, art and science of physical planning, urban design and sustainable placemaking.
  • 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 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.

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 Cornell 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.

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