About the Department

The Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP) focuses on research and education anchored in a commitment to developing equitable, sustainable, and empowered communities. We specialize in an array of urban-related problems from land use and transportation, to housing, resource management, and decision-making - that enable faculty and students to contribute to basic science and develop applications that better lives.

The overarching mission linking the Department’s instruction and faculty research efforts is to bring applied research to the cause of bettering individuals, neighborhoods, communities, and regions. Southern California has grown dramatically over the past four decades and will soon become the nation’s largest urban corridor. The challenges to maintain the quality of life, provide employment opportunities, and reduce the deep socioeconomic disparities of this bi-national and multicultural metropolitan region are enormous. Extremely diverse, multiethnic communities face the necessity of solving their problems in ways that are acceptable to their populations. Older central city areas that are vital to the region face issues of social and economic sustainability. The need to create employment opportunities, through the application of new technologies in industries and services, will be a constant feature of an urban region undergoing such population increases. At the same time, urban growth and transportation will have to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations that can safeguard the population’s health and quality of the diverse natural environments. The urban design and landscape of most communities stand to be reshaped as never before, as the building stock ages and the need to redevelop intensifies. 

We invite you to dive deeper in to learn more about UPPP. Take a look at the message from our Chair, Professor Walter Nicholls, and explore our News section and Events listing, where you'll find highlights of the many accomplishments and activities being undertaken by our faculty, students, and alumni, as well opportunities to get involved. Our Research page showcases centers and initiatives UPPP faculty and students engage in to address significant issues throughout the world. 

The Department faculty devote their scholarly and teaching efforts to theory-driven and empirically oriented urban research. The Department’s degree programs feature innovative teaching, often involving students in community projects, engagement with professionals in degree-related career paths, and a significant level of interaction between faculty and students. 

Learn more about our degree programs: