The sprint to graduation is behind us and this letter reflects on the many program activities of the recent academic year. It was a year marked by bigger strides to develop a new kind of interdisciplinary graduate degree in urban planning and development. Georgetown University’s traditions and values remain our unshakeable foundation as we build a program which embraces new innovation being fostered in so many dynamic cities around the world, including our own.
Our biggest milestone of the year was our expression of candidacy for academic accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board. With momentum generated by our growth, we initiated this rigorous process in just a brief three years and we look forward to working with the PAB in the years ahead.
The following offers additional annual highlights from our students, faculty, and program initiatives:
The program advanced a series of special engagements over this past year and each sought to explore our mission through critical dialogue on the contemporary practices of city planning:
With the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we convened a university-wide meeting with faculty and community leaders interested in community-based research and service along the Anacostia River.
We ended the academic year by working with the National Building Museum to co-host an amazing evening with Sir David Adjaye, architect of the National African American Museum of History and Culture, together with Paul Goldberger and Kojo Nnamdi.
Students and Alumni
Our students and growing alumni were active on many fronts:
May’s graduation marks four years of student enrollment and we have grown to be the largest urban planning program in Washington, D.C. and with over 65 graduate students we are comparable in size to many of the legacy programs across the country.
Our graduates leave the program with mission and confidence and have moved into important professional positions at leading organizations in the Washington region and other cities near and far.
Our students hail from across the United States and around the world. The composition of the student body features an equal gender balance; racial and ethnic diversity exceeding national benchmarks; and international students from across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Their academic background is wonderfully interdisciplinary and includes economics, architecture, engineering, real estate, art history, environmental science, urban studies, and other sciences and liberal arts.
Students researched many emerging practices in the planning profession. Kelsey Robertson’s capstone thesis explored new planning practices in coastal historic districts and received the Dick Wolf award from the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Peter Young’s research into public-private partnerships to finance broadband infrastructure in small cities won the thesis prize and he benefited greatly from the years of research he conducted to help develop the Economic Intelligence Dashboard on behalf of the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Students participated in national and international conferences, receiving national scholarships to attend conferences hosted by the American Planning Association, the Congress for New Urbanism, the Urban Land Institute and the American Society of Landscape Architects. Students are directly engaged with each of the local chapters of these important professional associations.
Students have self-organized a governance framework and routinely co-create program activities and special events. This year’s class trip to Philadelphia and the formation of Academic Resource Captains are products of their passion.
Our distinguished faculty of practicing planners, professional researchers and research professors have had another amazing year:
Our veteran faculty members have also been busy. Paul Brophy celebrated the release of his new book entitled, On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods, which was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Jess Zimbabwe was distinguished with the annual Teaching Award for her dynamic engagement of students in the planning studio and the ethics course.
Faculty director Uwe Brandes was named global knowledge expert in global urbanization by the World Economic Forum and co-curated the development of the WEF knowledge management platform on global urbanization.
These snapshots are just some of the exciting activities being advanced by our students and faculty. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude all of our friends and partners of the program who joined us in a spirit of inquiry and open dialogue. Our students and faculty would not enjoy our high levels of excitement without you.
Each year seems to pass more quickly than the last. I look forward to reaching out again soon to brief you on upcoming activities, events, and opportunities to engage.
Uwe S. Brandes
Associate Professor of the Practice and Faculty Director
Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies
Uwe S. Brandes
Uwe S. Brandes, M.Arch, is the founding director for the master's in Urban & Regional Planning program at Georgetown University. He has over 20 years of experience in the planning, design, and construction of new buildings, public infrastructure, and the urban landscape.