Chair's Welcome

Doctor Bruce Stiftel, Professor and Chair, School of City and Regional Planning

Welcome to the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning!

Georgia Tech has been sending innovative ideas and ambitious young planners into practice since 1952. Our laboratories and classrooms in Atlanta are the exciting and challenging home to a next generation of urban planning, community development, environmental protection and GIS research and practice. In these times of accelerated urbanization, climate change, and economic instability, the need for quality thinking, improved technique, and dedicated city and regional planning talent has never been greater.  

We live in a rapidly changing world with half of our U.S. built environment reaching obsolescence every fifty years, and sea levels estimated to rise at least one meter in the next hundred years. The world population is projected to top nine billion by 2040. China’s automobile ownership is rising twenty percent per year. The ratio of seniors to working adults in the U.S. is expected to rise by two-thirds in the next thirty years, and diabetes and heart disease rates are climbing exponentially. The demands on the planning profession are extraordinary.

Is our profession up to the task?

Reviews of the exciting ideas in our journals and some of the path breaking proposals in our plans suggests we are on the right track, but the frustrations of our practitioners and scholars expressed at staff meetings and conferences, and the scarcity of planning voices in board rooms and legislative chambers cast real doubt on whether we will have the needed influence. Turning this around depends heavily on planning schools, where the best ideas are developed and the ambitions and abilities of the next generation of planners are set.

Our Vision for a Planned Future

Planners are both praised and reviled for notions of the planned city: a future founded on scientific study and designed with aesthetic aplomb and an economist’s efficiency.  But plans are honored as much in the breech as they are used.  The real value of planning is coming to understand one’s circumstances and building consensus on the objectives and tools of one’s future.  Georgia Tech’s tradition is to seize opportunities to help communities achieve such understanding and create such consensus.  We do this with science and technology, but also with humanity and creativity.  We know the institutions of public decision making and pride ourselves on working across political divisions,  but we also challenge the traditions of the past in data-rich and analytically sophisticated ways that transform the arenas of public choice.  Here at Georgia Tech, it’s not the planned city we seek, but instead the city that plans, scientifically, cooperatively, and creatively.    

No two days are the same at our school

With thirty-six faculty, one hundred forty graduate students, three research centers directed by our faculty, and annual activities that include over four million dollars in funded research, six to seven community studio projects, five to ten national and international awards, two to five new books, thirty to fifty new journal articles, and activities on four continents, SCaRP students and faculty are always looking toward the next challenge.  The innovations we design for neighborhoods one term become inspiration for nations the next.  More than fifty guest speakers a year draw the finest from planning practice into our classrooms.  Partnerships with universities and planning agencies worldwide create opportunities for our teams to learn from the best ideas abroad as well as to impact global issues.  Among my most cherished moments as school chair are meetings with alumni returning to campus.  Decades after graduation, they expect the same excitement, the same level of challenge, the same newness that each day brought to them when they studied here.

If you are contemplating enrollment or employment in the School, these web pages will offer you a comprehensive picture of the work that goes on in SCaRP; additional questions may be directed to our officers as listed under About Us. Current students will find basics here, but should also check the School of City and Regional Planning Intranet. Professional planners, planning researchers, and citizen planners will find much of interest in the pages under Research + Engagement, and may want to participate in events listed under News and Events. Communities and organizations seeking our technical assistance will see examples of our work under Research + Engagement. Employers can learn how to recruit a Georgia Tech planner, and alumni will find information and tools designed to help them stay in touch with classmates and the School on the Alumni pages.

We appreciate your interest and look forward to teaching, learning, and working with you.

Bruce Stiftel, FAICP

Professor and Chair, School of City and Regional Planning