The Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of Texas at Austin seeks to continuously strengthen, adapt, and improve our teaching, research, and service activities to create and support healthy, safe, just, and environmentally resilient communities. Our mission is to provide the knowledge, skills, and abilities that empower students to accomplish these goals through practical engagement in transparent and socially inclusive planning processes in a variety of settings in the United States and around the world.
We strive to provide an environment of innovation in teaching, research, and practice that accomplishes this mission while remaining faithful to our long-standing values of equity, fairness, diversity, and dedication to creating and maintaining sustainable communities.
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS
The current strategic plan of the Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-CRP) was fashioned through an extensive process that first involved a faculty review of our former strategic plan dating from 2009. We then reviewed our current curriculum, learning objectives, and degree requirements, including our current specialization framework. These discussions began at the August 2015 planning faculty retreat and were continued in subsequent in faculty meetings in the fall of 2015. In these meetings, faculty isolated important programmatic and strategic planning issues that we hoped could be informed by a deeper and more systematic process to create a new, revised strategic plan for the Community & Regional Planning Program moving forward.
READ THE FULL PROCESS HERE
In January 2016, the entire CRP faculty and five representatives selected by the planning student organization held the first of a series of meetings to review and revise the strategic plan. In February 2016, faculty and students conducted a SWOT analysis that highlighted a set of strategic issues and a vision and goals exercise that related to the analysis. This process also highlighted the fundamental purposes and aspirations of the program. This step in the process led to the crafting of a provisional mission statement, set of goals, and performance measures for future review and refinement.
This work formed the foundation of a half-day retreat on March 24, 2016 that included faculty, students, and six prominent professionals, including the chair of the Central Texas American Planning Association chapter. The SWOT analysis and a provisional mission statement, program goals, and performance measures were reviewed and revised at this retreat. In addition, key programmatic issues were isolated that needed to be addressed for the program to align strongly with the aspirations of the strategic plan. Three working groups were formed out of this retreat: a group to further refine and finalize the strategic plan; a group to review and make final recommendations regarding our current specialization areas; and a group to address issues of diversity and equity in our faculty and student recruitment, our curriculum and in the broader culture of our school and program. These three working groups met, communicated, and worked on producing recommendations from late March through early May 2016.
As work continued on finalizing a new strategic plan, input was also received at our annual Community & Regional Planning Career Day events on April 8, 2016. These events included an alumni panel and roundtable discussions involving over 30 employers that focused on current trends in planning and related professions, knowledge, skills, and abilities sought by employers of masters graduates, and the status of specializations and certificate programs in hiring decisions. The information and advice received at these events fed into our strategic planning process and our decision to eliminate most of our specialization areas.
A final 3-hour meeting was held on May 10, 2016, with faculty and student representatives to complete final work on the strategic plan, make final recommendations on our program specialization areas and propose and implement an aggressive plan to promote equity and diversity across the planning program. The faculty and students adopted the final strategic plan by consensus.
We believe that this process, spanning roughly nine months, was inclusive, highly engaging, and deliberative. It forced all program stakeholders to take a broader view and reimagine the values, purposes, and goals that should animate cutting-edge planning research, teaching, and practice in the current setting and into the future.
The 2015-16 revised strategic plan seeks to align the mission and goals of the program with enduring and emerging challenges in the planning profession to create and support healthy, safe, just, and environmentally resilient communities. This intensive strategic planning process yielded a new mission statement reflecting the core values and fundamental purpose of the program. Our mission is connected to seven specific program goals and specific performance measures that register meaningful progress toward the key goals of the program. The new strategic plan provides a clear framework for the program that will act as a guidepost and durable reference for faculty, students, and professional partners now and into the future
GOALS AND MEASURABLE PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES
Goal 1 – The CRP program will provide a comprehensive and inclusive curriculum that offers a strong foundation in the history, theories, institutions, and methods of modern planning practice giving students the capacity to become innovative practitioners and skilled leaders in planning-related professions.
- Measure 1 - At least 30% of all courses will include a service-learning element where students engage with outside clients or community groups that challenge them to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Measure 2 - At least 80% of student work in the integrated planning practicum courses will be judged very good or excellent in course reviews.
- Measure 3 - At least 90% of graduating students indicate they are well-prepared in key subject areas, skills, and abilities.
- Measure 4 - At least 70% of graduates will be ranked as having very good to excellent knowledge of key aspects of professional planning practice relative to graduates of other planning programs.
- Measure 5 - At least 70% of graduates will be ranked as having very good to excellent capabilities (knowledge, skills, and values) relative to graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 2 – Students will have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to work collaboratively across professions and disciplines to improve the economic, social, physical, and environmental conditions in the communities where they work.
- Measure 1 - At least 50% of elective courses will be cross-listed with other disciplinary units within the SOA and/or across campus in a given academic year.
- Measure 2 - At least 50% of all courses will incorporate team assignments and practice in small group work and team management.
- Measure 3 - At least 90% of graduating students will indicate that they are well prepared in team project work and group collaboration skills and abilities.
- Measure 4 - At least 70% of graduates will have very good to excellent abilities to work in multidisciplinary teams and contribute effectively to complex projects, relative to the graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 3 – Students will value and seek to serve the public interest, work effectively in diverse contexts and cultures and engage all stakeholders with compassion, professionalism, honesty, and dedication.
- Measure 1 – 30% of all courses with service learning components will integrate multicultural group process training and facilitative engagement training in their curriculum.
- Measure 2 - All graduating students will have participatory engagement experience in a multicultural context through one or more service-learning experiences in capstone practicum or other courses.
- Measure 3 - Students will have at least three opportunities in their two-year course of study to take a study abroad course in the SOA to further their multinational and multicultural planning experience.
- Measure 4 - At least 90% of graduating students will indicate that they are well prepared in public engagement processes and to function in culturally and ethnically diverse environments on the annual CRP exit survey.
- Measure 5 - At least 70% of graduates will be ranked as having very good to excellent abilities to work in culturally and ethnically diverse environments and understanding important practices and techniques of public participation and dispute resolution relative to graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 4 - Students will understand the political, legal, and institutional frameworks, power relations, and structural imbalances that influence planning and policy decisions in order to conduct their responsibilities in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards.
- Measure 1 - All graduating students will understand the theories and methods of evaluating whether planning initiatives improve social equity or exacerbate social and environmental injustice by integrating knowledge bases and practices in the core curriculum. At least 90% of students will indicate they have very good to adequate knowledge of how to evaluate whether planning initiatives improve social equity and environmental justice.
- Measure 2 - All graduating students will have engaged in group projects that are critically evaluated against the AICP code of ethics, learning to better address core elements of planning with integrity. At least 90% of students will indicate they have very good to adequate knowledge of the AICP code of ethics and its application to the planning process.
- Measure 3 - At least 90% of graduating students will indicate they are well prepared to evaluate the social and economic context of planning issues and projects.
- Measure 4 - At least 70% of graduates will be ranked as having a very good to excellent understanding of the political, legal, and institutional contexts of planning issues and projects relative to graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 5 - Students will develop strong written and oral communication skills and cutting-edge visual communication abilities to present effectively in multiple media in order to accurately represent the diverse interests and challenges faced in complex planning situations.
- Measure 1 – 80% of graduating students will learn and demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate in multiple media, accurately representing and informing diverse interests.
- Measure 2 - At least 90% of graduating students will indicate they are well prepared to analyze and interpret qualitative and quantitative data and to use digital mapping, graphic, and design software to effectively communicate planning information to co-workers, clients, and other audiences.
- Measure 3 - At least 70% of graduates will be ranked as having very good to excellent abilities to effectively analyze, interpret and present data in multiple formats relative to graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 6 - Students will understand the forces that exacerbate climate change and be able to inform and engage their clients in appropriate methods or approaches to address sustainability in all its aspects, and help communities to become resilient and adaptable.
- Measure 1 - Graduating students will understand the socio-ecological processes that challenge the environment and work to create and support resilient systems that remain diverse and productive over time. At least 90% of students will indicate they have very good or adequate knowledge of how to create resilient systems that remain diverse and productive over time.
- Measure 2 – At least 50% of courses will provide students with appropriate guidance to recognize, respect, and balance the 3 E's of sustainability.
- Measure 3 - All graduating students will recognize the importance of working proactively with neighborhoods and communities to increase resilience to, and recovery from natural and human-made disasters.
- Measure 4 - At least 70% of graduates will have a very good to excellent ability to assist communities to use measures of sustainability relative to graduates of other planning programs.
Goal 7 - Students in Community & Regional Planning will have a positive experience as a result of the program’s supportive learning environment characterized by a climate of inclusion, support, and respect for difference across all types of human diversity including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability status, and political philosophy.
- Measure 1 - 100% of courses offered in the CRP program will include at least one learning objective that deals with issues of diversity, and which is regularly addressed throughout the course rather than condensed into one module.
- Measure 2 - Every academic year, the program will sponsor at least two major public forums that will focus on diversity-related themes that are relevant to the local Central Texas community.
- Measure 3 - At least four times per academic year, the program will host a social event involving students, faculty, and staff in open-ended discussions about diversity issues and general issues related to student inclusion and support in CRP courses and activities.
- Measure 4 - A list of possible professional report and social justice topics that are of interest to local groups, including community and social justice-oriented organizations, will be maintained on the program's website.
- Measure 5 - At least 90% of graduating students will indicate that they are well prepared to understand issues of diversity and inclusion and incorporate this understanding into their professional lives.