Founded in 1967, the urban planning and policy development program educates innovative people who wish to combine social concerns with analytic skills. While planners work on a wide range of problems, they also are likely to focus on a particular issue or specialization in building individual careers, thus concentrating their professional expertise. For this reason, the trained planner is often called "a generalist with a specialty." That phrase is more than just a cliché. It suggests that a useful curriculum will contain a productive application of faculty disciplines and other program resources. It defines the approach to graduate study in urban planning and policy development at Rutgers.
Planning is future-oriented and comprehensive. It seeks to link knowledge and action in ways that improve the quality of public and private development decisions affecting people and places. Because of its future orientation, planning embraces visionary and utopian thinking, yet also recognizes that the implementation of plans requires the reconciliation of present realities to future states. To become effective and ethical practitioners, students must develop a comprehensive understanding of cities and regions, and of the theory and practice of planning. They must also be able to use a variety of analytic methods in their practice. They must become sensitive to the ways in which planning affects individual and community values, and must be aware of their own roles in this process.