Letter from the Executive Director: Inaugural Year in Review


August 2014

Dear Friends:

It has been a year since I came to Georgetown University to launch the master’s program in Urban & Regional Planning and I’d like to report on recent progress. I am humbled by the extraordinary support I have received from so many people within and outside of the University, and I am proud to share with you that not only is the program up and running, but we are also building momentum to create a global center of excellence in urban planning education. I would like to review some of the highlights from our inaugural year:


  • We admitted our first students last September and completed the year with an inaugural class of 24 students pursuing their professional degree.
  • On an extremely promising note, we have concluded a successful admissions process for next year’s class, which will double the size of the program.
  • Collectively, our motivated students hail from cities on four continents and across the United States.


  • Our distinguished faculty delivered the program’s core curriculum and conducted courses in place-based and immersive problem solving.
  • We delivered Georgetown’s first dedicated class in Geographic Information Systems, the information technology platform that is revolutionizing planning practices and asset management strategies.
  • This spring, Mayor Vincent Gray appointed faculty member Ellen McCarthy to serve as the Director of Planning for the District of Columbia. She continues to teach the introductory Planning Methods course in the program.


  • We formed an academic steering committee which includes deans and emeritus professors from the most important urban planning programs across the country, including MIT, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Pratt Institute and the University of Maryland. The group also includes leading professionals from the District of Columbia, National Capital Planning Commission, the City of New York and Cisco.
  • Marilyn Jordan Taylor, a member of the program’s academic advisory committee, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Georgetown University President DeGoia and delivered reflections entitled “Leadership and Collective Intelligence” at graduation ceremonies.


  • Our inaugural class study tour was to Pittsburgh, a city rich with lessons of explosive growth, urban revitalization and new strategies of innovation-oriented economic development.
  • Our students participated in university-wide initiatives including the Global Social Entrepreneur Initiative, the Georgetown Climate Center, the Center for Social Justice and the Georgetown Energy Prize.
  • We curated an inaugural public speakers series, which in the fall explored the current state of urban planning in the National Capital Region and then in the spring engaged in a dialogue on the state of the urban planning profession.
  • Over spring break, we travelled to Manila, Philippines to study issues of urban resilience in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, in partnership with the Asia Society and the Urban Land Institute.
  • We hosted industry dialogues throughout the year to explore new frontiers of urban development strategy with partners such as BMW, Philips, the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

These activities and accomplishments have only been possible through collaboration and partnership with many stakeholders. I would like to formally thank all of the individuals and organizations who have played such an instrumental role in helping the program off the ground. And we are just getting started! I look forward to briefing you on upcoming special events in the near future.



Uwe S. Brandes
Executive Director
Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @uwebrandes and the program @GeorgetownURP.

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