By Geoff I. Bradley, AICP, President + Principal at M-Group
On October 7th, Whitney and I underwent a full day training in the ULI UrbanPlan program. The program involves bring experienced real estate professionals into high schools and engaging over a several week period on the fundamentals of real estate development.
From the ULI website:
UrbanPlan is an exciting educational initiative of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) developed in partnership with the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics (FCREUE) at the University of California at Berkeley and a team of high school economics teachers.
The Mission of UrbanPlan is to create a more sophisticated level of discourse among local stakeholders involved in land use decisions through education of tomorrow’s voters, neighbors, community leaders, public officials, and land use professionals so, together, we can create better communities.
Through UrbanPlan, students discover how the forces of our market economy clash and collaborate with the nonmarket forces of our representative democracy to create the built environment. This insight provides the essential foundation for any sophisticated land use discussion.
The trainers (Paula and Marisita) did an amazing job of distilling the essence of both the program and what it takes to be a successful coach for the teams. They demonstrated and had us practice a very rigorous Socratic method of precise questions to draw out critical thinking and logical decision making. The students are assigned roles such as City Liaison, Neighborhood Liaison, Financial Analyst, Site Planner, and Director of Marketing. The program builds up to a team presentation to a mock City Council that selects a winning development scenario. The roles assigned to each student allow for individual assessments for the teachers, making it easier to incorporate into high school economics and government courses.
Since its introduction in Spring 2002 through Spring 2010, UrbanPlan has had over 20,000 students in 14 states. Whitney and I are both excited to start participating in UrbanPlan in the Bay Area. This program relates well to our focus on planning education at all age levels to build up a strong next generation of city and regional planners!