This is an exciting time for planning with a lot of opportunity to figure out an entirely new way of making cities. The policies of the last 70 years have led to unsustainable sprawl, a development pattern that reduces physical activity, a transportation system that creates dependency on the private automobile, and a city form that is not prepared to meet our urgent climate change challenges. These are big issues and planners are key players in forging a new direction.
My own work explores the relationship of urban form to active modes of transportation (walking and biking), the use of participatory GIS to catalyze community change, and anything else that might help us get to where we need to more quickly. Please have a look at the classes I teach, research I engage in, and campus organizations I co-lead (all linked on the left) for more context on my part for bringing about change.
The Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) is a major new University initiative that seeks to direct University research, teaching, and service in the direct assistance of communities, states, and policy making at the federal level. NITC is a national university transportation center with a national reputation of being a leader at the intersection of transportation and livability. And LiveMove is an incredibly active student organization around issues of livability and sustainable city design.
On the fun side, the department has an ultimate frisbee team open to all levels of players; the "Sprawl' link on the left is a how-to manual on playing the friendly game.