I study Urban and Regional Studies at Cornell University. I love what I do and learn, but whenever people ask me what my major is, I always am asked, "What even is urban planning?"
Urban planning is an interdisciplinary profession that works to find solutions to urban problems.
Jillian Sutherland an AICP planner says, "A planner partners with communities to help them become wonderful places to live, work, grow up, and play. They help decide what kinds of buildings should go where, where new parks might be needed, and what areas in the community are in need of changes to make them better places to be."
Urban planning covers everything from transportation, environmental sustainability, policy/politics, education, design, real estate, historic preservation, development... The list goes on and on.
For me, studying URS helped me to become a conscious urban citizen. I am more knowledgeable about how to ask for the things I want within my community. This can be through voting on bills, attending City Hall meetings, or volunteering at local organizations.
It's very important to be aware of the systems at play in our day-to-day lives. Policy affects us directly. Our built environments affect our well-being. Cornell CRP says,"Our research and practice must be applied because environmental, political, and social changes force us both to respond appropriately — justly, efficiently, and wisely — in the physical world and to anticipate practically future changes in the social world."
Learn more about urban planning through the American Planning Association (APA) here.
Learn more about Cornell's City and Regional Planning Department here.