Letter from the Executive Director: 2014-2015 Year in Review


July 2015

Dear Friends:

It is my honor and pleasure to provide you an update on the master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning (URP) at Georgetown University. This coming September will mark two years of student enrollment and I remain humbled and grateful to the many individuals and organizations that have assisted me in standing up the program.

Our pedagogical approach rests firmly in Georgetown’s traditions of academic excellence and Jesuit values. Structured as a flexible curriculum for students with diverse academic and professional backgrounds and interests, the URP program uniquely leverages the interdisciplinary resources of the university, the globally significant concentration of professional expertise in Washington, and the wealth of best practice case studies across the National Capital Region.

We have made great strides, yet we have much work cut out for us. My goal is to position the program as a global center of professional education in urban planning and development, where the next generation of urban planning professionals discover the knowledge necessary to shape the sustainable, equitable, and meaningful communities of tomorrow.

Here is where we stand:



  • As the program grows we continue to add distinguished faculty from across the university and from the professional community. Each faculty member brings his or her passion for cities, dedication to the program’s mission of advancing professional practices, and enthusiasm for teaching the next wave of urban planning professionals.
  • We granted our first annual teaching award to program faculty member Joshua Murphy. In addition to introducing students to the power of geographic information systems (GIS), he also serves as Senior Spatial Analyst at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where among his responsibilities he assists local governments across the country in geo-spatial data analysis associated with climate change and sea level rise.
  • In Spring of 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named URP faculty member Michael Kelly the general manager of the NYCHA, the country’s largest public housing authority. He continues to lecture in URP’s Affordable Housing Strategies class.


  • Special immersive learning opportunities have enabled students to travel outside Washington, investigating such topics as urban air quality in Beijing/Shanghai and community development challenges in Baltimore following recent civil unrest.
  • The program’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning was manifest in a special place-based planning studio conducted as a joint class with Georgetown University Law Center exploring Washington’s East End.
  • We have instituted a semester-based public lecture series allowing us to engage distinguished external thought leaders. This past year we first explored the governance of large investments in cities, “Big Investments in Big Cities” followed by a survey of short-term drivers of change upending conventional urban planning practices, “The City Disrupted”.
  • Together with the Georgetown master’s in Technology Management program, we hosted an inaugural Georgetown Smart Cities Assembly, which brought national, local, and academic stakeholders together in a collaborative “working meeting” format.
  • Other research symposia with partner organizations explored topics including environmental performance districts, affordable housing delivery strategies, and new practices in public transit advocacy.


  • The program entered into its first formal research partnership with the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID) to study and document emerging “place-management” strategies being forged by this path breaking organization.
  • The administration of the program was dramatically enhanced with the creation of a Program Director position. Jamie Kralovec joined the program in this capacity coming from HUD where he managed the Obama administration’s “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative.

And we are just getting started! We are well positioned to advance our mission of training the next generation of urban planning professionals with the technical and leadership skills necessary to rise to the unprecedented urban challenges in our cities around the world.

Thanks again to all of our partners and I look forward to reaching out again to brief you on next year’s public events.


Uwe S. Brandes

Executive Director
Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

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