May 23, 2022  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, BA

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Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy, Huxley College of the Environment

102-105 credits minimum


This interdisciplinary program prepares students to enter professional fields concerned with the sustainability of the human and natural environment. The Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major consists of foundation, urban planning core, and specialization courses. The foundation and planning core requirement incorporates the interdisciplinary foundation of Huxley College’s approach to the study of the environment, with an emphasis on public policy development, law, and the methods, theory, and processes of planning and decision-making. The specialization courses allow students to develop an area of specialized interest in a defined planning sub-discipline, to concentrate on a minor in an academic discipline, or to select from a number of thematically oriented clusters of courses.

Huxley’s Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major emphasizes innovative approaches to solving complex problems facing communities from the local to the global level. The program stresses progressive change leading towards equitable, healthful, livable, and sustainable communities with the emphasis on social and environmental justice, multiculturalism, diversity, and under-served communities. The curriculum combines urban planning, urban and sustainable design, environmental policy, and environmental sciences to provide students with an understanding of the linkages between urban and natural systems and the multidimensional problems in urban development.

Graduates are prepared for entry-level careers in planning agencies, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations in various fields locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as advanced graduate studies.

Why Consider a Study of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Major?

Do you want to shape the cities of tomorrow by:

  • planning and designing livable communities and neighborhoods?
  • addressing climate change and environmental sustainability?
  • promoting social justice and equity?
  • developing housing affordability solutions?
  • incorporating transportation and energy innovations in city plans?
  • collaborating with government agencies, non-profit organization, and community groups to address local, regional, and global problems?

Then Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, BA is the major for you. Cities are at the forefront of innovations that deal with these challenges and Western’s UPSD will prepare you to be part of the solution!

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Grace Wang
Arntzen Hall 212

Huxley College Professional Advisor
Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539

Planning Program
Faculty Advisor

Nicholas Zaferatos
Environmental Studies 444

 Sample Careers

Urban Planner | Regional Planner | Sustainable Development Consultant | Planning Consultant | County Planner | Environmental Planner Natural Resources Manager | Emergency Manager | Non-Profit Organizations

 Major/Career Resources

How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

How to Apply as a Pre-Major:

At any time, you can declare yourself as a pre-major in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development in the Huxley College of the Environment advising office, ES 539. Once you are declared as a pre-major you are assigned a Huxley professional advisor and a faculty advisor based on your academic interests. Your professional advisor can help you understand graduation requirements and how to navigate through the Huxley curriculum. Your faculty advisor guides you in which courses to take, and when, and gives you advice about internships and how to prepare for graduate school or a future career. As a pre-major, your email is added to distribution lists for Huxley majors so you will begin to receive notifications and general announcements. The pre-major status will also give you access to priority registration for some classes.

How to Apply to the Major:

As a nationally accredited professional planning program, admission to the Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major at Huxley College is a competitive process. The program typically accepts a junior cohort class of 25 students annually during the spring quarter. Before applying, students should complete required GURs and foundations courses. 

To apply, submit an application (and a PDF file) that includes the following:

  • A statement of interest (700-1,000 words) that describes your interest in the urban planning major; your familiarity with urban planning and sustainable development; and your vision and affinity to work in the planning field and in the public interest. 
  • A resume summarizing academic, curricular, extra-curricular, and volunteer activities.
  • A portfolio of work that demonstrates your skills and affinity with the major. Suggested portfolio materials include any or all of the following, or other materials that represent your vision, skills, and experience: a) examples of your best academic writing; b) an annotated list of no more than three inspirational readings; c) examples of creative expression, drawings, or other illustrative skills; and d) description of volunteer or work activities. 

Applications are ranked based on the applicants’ demonstrated interests in solving urban planning problems; commitment to planning’s social and environmental justice goals; aspirations for working in the public interest; relevant skills and experiences; and academic performance. Applicant selection is also based on creating a cohort representing diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

To become familiar with the work of urban planning and our program’s curriculum, applicants are strongly advised to review the American Planning Association website ( as well as the program’s brochure (

Applications are accepted at the Huxley College office, ES 539, in the spring quarter only for admission to the program beginning in fall quarter.

If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the Huxley College Student Support office in ES 539.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.


Students select either Option A: Environmental Studies Foundation courses OR Option B: Environmental Sciences Foundation Courses.

Foundations Option A: Environmental Studies Foundation (32 credits minimum)

Students must complete the following Option A courses: ECON 206 and ENVS 201 and ENVS 203 and MATH 112 or MATH 114 or suitable math placement score before applying to the Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major. 

Foundations Option B: Environmental Sciences Foundation (35 credits minimum)

Students must complete the following Option B courses: ENVS 201, BIOL 101 or BIOL 204, CHEM 161, MATH 114 or suitable math placement score before applying to the Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major. 

Students should be aware of any additional prerequisites for ESCI courses.

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Major Core Courses (70 credits minimum)

Planning History, Theory and Knowledge (20 credits)

Planning and Diversity (3 credits minimum)

Planning Elective Specialization (10 credits minimum)

Courses from one of the specialization groups listed below:

Culminating Courses - Capstone and Experiential (8 credits minimum)

Huxley Capstone

Students are required to take one ENVS/ESCI/UEPP approved course with a capstone “CPST” attribute during their senior year. A capstone class is a field or project-based class that can be taken by students from one of these departments (ENVS/ESCI/UEPP). This class is meant to be a culminating experience for the students bringing all the varied disciplines together as applied work on a real-world issue. Several capstone options are open to all Huxley College students; others have prerequisites.

  • Urban Planning and Sustainable Development majors are encouraged to select from ENVS 410, ENVS/UEPP 474, or ENVS/ESCI 493 as their capstone.

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