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Concentration: Land Use and Environmental Planning

College of Architecture and Planning

This information is for students who enrolled in the MURP program in Spring 2013 or earlier. Students who are starting the program in Fall 2013 or later, click here​ to find information on our new program and curriculum. 

This concentration will prepare you for making and administering plans and policies at all levels including neighborhood, city, watershed and region.

Land use and environmental planning emphasizes:

  • Regulation of land uses and development processes
  • Organization of transportation infrastructure and other major public investments
  • Management of urban ecology, environmental quality and natural resources

In this concentration, you’ll be trained in the various skills of analysis, advocacy and negotiation. You are encouraged to refine, argue for and pursue your own visions of healthy, efficient or sustainable places.

This concentration prepares you to guide development processes and ensure that land and facilities meet current and future needs of urban populations. Graduates typically take jobs in local, state and federal government, non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and the development industry.

For more information on the LUEP Concentration, contact Dr. Jennifer Steffel Johnson at 303.315.0061 or via email​

Land Use and Environmental Planning Curriculum

The land use and environmental curriculum focuses on:

  1. practices and innovations in land use regulation and public investment;
  2. analytical methods including transportation modeling, land market evaluation, environmental impact analysis and use of decision support systems;
  3. administration of policies and plans;
  4. management of collaborative processes across diverse interest groups; and
  5. planning politics and governance. 

Foundation Courses (9 Credits):

In the foundation part of the concentration, you will select one eligible course from each of the three topical areas listed below.

Topic Area Credits Eligible Courses

Social and Economic Process 



URP 6640-Community Development Process

URP 6670-Urban Economic Development

URP 6665-Urban Market Analysis  

Plan-making 3 URP 6686-Sustainable Land Use Planning*
URP 6653-Natural Resource Planning & Management
Policy, Management & Implementation  3 URP 6650-Environmental Planning II: Policy & Law
URP 6656-Regional Land Use Analysis & Planning
URP 6652-Growth Management

* Note: Sustainable Land Use Planning is a 6-credit studio satisfying the requirement for Studio II within the MURP Core.  If this course is taken to satisfy our core requirement, then you will be able to take one more 3-credit elective offering within this Concentration.

GIS Requirement

You must demonstrate competence in GIS to complete the concentration. Any graduate GIS course in the College of Architecture and Planning, College of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will satisfy the GIS requirement. Previous classes and work experience may also satisfy the GIS requirement upon approval of the Concentration Coordinator. 

Specialization Within the Concentration (6 Credits)

If you elect the Land Use and Environment Concentration, you may choose from four specializations:

  • Local Land Planning
  • Regional Land Use Planning
  • Transportation Planning
  • Environmental Planning

In consultation with the concentration coordinator, select a minimum of two courses from one of the areas listed below. You may also construct your own specializations in consultation with the concentration coordinator.

Note that the following sets of courses are suggestive and not necessarily exhaustive.  Over time course titles change and new courses are often to be found both within and outside our College. 

Local Land Planning
Course Number Course Title Credits
URP 6635 City-Building 3
URP 6640 Community Development Process 3
URP 6642 Neighborhood Planning 3
URP 6652 Growth Management 3
URP 6660 Real Estate Development 3
URP 6661 Real Estate Development Finance 3
URP 6665 Urban Market Analysis 3
URP 6664 Fiscal Impact Analysis 3
URP 6676 Urban Housing 3
URP 6686 Special Topics: Tourism and Resort Planning 3
P AD 5060 Public Finance 3
P AD 5625 Local Government Management 3
OPMG 6800 Project Management 3


Regional Land Use Planning
Course Number Course Title Credits
URP 6656 Regional Land Use Analysis and Planning 3
URP 6641 Social Planning 3
URP 6652 Growth Management 3
P AD 5250 Intergovernmental Management 3
P AD 5340 Intergovernmental Policy 3


Transportation Planning
Course Number Course Title Credits
URP 6673 Transportation Planning I 3
URP 6674 Transportation Planning II 3


Environmental Planning
Course Number Course Title Credits
URP 6653 Natural Resources Planning and Management 3
URP 6649 Environmental Planning I: Ecology for Planners 3
URP 6686 Seminar: Environmental Land Use Planning 3
URP 6650 Environmental Planning II: Policy and Law 3
URP 6686 Special Topics: Air Quality Planning and Management 3
URP 6686 Conflict Negotiation 3
ANTH 5150 Cultural Ecology 3
P AD 5535 Environmental Health Policy, Regulation and Law 3
P AD 5636 Seminar: Policy, Regulation and Law 3
URP 6651 Environmental Impact Assessment 3
BIOL 5050 Conservation Biology 3
CE 5381-84 Advanced GIS Course work 3
CE 5810 Solid and Hazardous Waste Facilities 3
ENVS 6200 Risk Assessment 3
ENVS 6210 Human Health and Environmental Pollution 3
LA 6622 Visual Quality Analysis 3
LA 6686 Landscape Assessment and Planning 3


Learning Outcomes

In this concentration, you will be trained in the various skills of analysis, advocacy and negotiation.  You will acquire an understanding of multiple disciplinary and professional perspectives including land development, environmental sciences, infrastructure systems, policy management and regulatory design.  You will learn how to formulate and present plans and policies in a professional manner, and will have the opportunity to explore planning approaches and solutions in real world settings.  The land use and environment concentration emphasizes skills and knowledge in the following areas:

  • Understanding of interactions between environment, land use and transportation systems
  • Assessment of the consequences of planning decisions for livability, environmental health and other measures of urban character and resource condition
  • Innovative land use and environmental planning tools including regional growth management, zoning and environmental review
  • Analytical methods including market analysis, neighborhood assessment, environmental impact assessment, population and economic forecasting, transportation modeling and land suitability analysis
  • Policy and plan development including formulation of goals and design of implementation strategies
  • Policy and plan evaluation including methods for assessing the validity effectiveness, feasibility, strengths and weaknesses
  • Policy and plan management including enforcement and monitoring
  • GIS and related digital representation and decision support tools
  • Oral, graphic, and written communication methods
  • ​Techniques for negotiation, consensus-building with community stakeholders and working effectively as a member of a planning team 

What Land Use and Environmental Planners Do

Land use and environmental planners:

  • communicate with affected stakeholders to define visions and goals, mediate conflicts, and advise decision makers on possible consequences of proposed policies and projects 
  • work to balance competing demands on the land and the environment in the context of fiscal and legal requirements 
  • establish the policy and regulatory context for design and development and assess normative benchmarks for the content and pattern of growth 
  • act as day-to-day managers of development and public investment processes, and gauge their physical, social, environmental, economic and fiscal impacts 
  • guide development processes and ensure that land and facilities meet current and future needs of urban populations
  • employ a diverse set of regulatory and investment tools
  • Some planners focus on growth management practices to guide metropolitan expansion at a regional scale; others emphasize local land use controls such as zoning and subdivision review. 
  • refashion zoning ordinances and investment mechanisms to support infill and transit-oriented corridor development. 
  • influence underlying patterns of urban change, particularly in places of rapid population growth
  • evaluate ecosystem consequences of projects such as water supply systems
  • design or implement resource management plans
  • organize local ecological restoration efforts
  • manage local government open space plans
  • mediate disputes and facilitate collaborative planning processes
Further Reading

For further information students may also wish to consult these references:

Edward J. Kaiser, David R. Godschalk, F. Stuart, Jr. Chapin. 2006. Urban Land Use Planning (5th Edition). University of Illinois Press. Urbana, Ill.

John Randolph. 2004. Environmental Land Use Planning. Island Press. Washington, D.C.

R. Cervero, R. Dunphy, F. Dock, M. McAvey, D. Porter, and C. Swenson. 2004.  Developing Around Transit: Strategies and Solutions That Work. Urban Land Institute. Washington, D.C.:

Mike Jenks and Nicola Dempsey (eds.). 2005. Future Forms and Design For Sustainable Cities. Architectural Press.


Updated 8/1/11 

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