Students in the Master of Urban and Regional Policy program explore a range of issues that impact urban communities and the quality of life. Here are just a few of the prominent issues covered in the program. The faculty who teach in these areas are engaged in highly relevant and current research and policy development.
While the federal government is responsible through fiscal and monetary policy for encouraging economic growth, economic development occurs at the local level. Individual firms make the decision to expand their existing operations in a given location or to expand into new regions. Those communities that are adept at attracting firms are able to provide job opportunity for their citizens and a strong tax base to underwrite the cost of public services. Those communities that are not adept experience rising unemployment, stagnant or declining household income, and shrinking tax revenue. MURP students study the factors that are most important in sustaining buoyant urban and regional economic growth using the tools of economics, political science, and sociology. The program produces students who can work in state government agencies, in city planning departments, in community development corporations, in research and consulting firms, and in the community affairs departments of private industry.
For most families, the cost of housing takes up more than a quarter of their income; for some more than half. For the regional economy, affordable housing is critical to economic development. For the nation, a depression in the housing market can create and sustain a serious recession and high unemployment. Because we see decent housing as a moral obligation of society and an economic necessity to sustain a city or a region’s prosperity, it is one of the areas we study in the MURP program. We look at factors that make it difficult to produce affordable housing in both the homeownership and rental markets. We study the impact of changing demographics on housing demand and the barriers to producing housing supply. We investigate the role of housing policy at the local, state, and federal level. MURP produces students who can work for government housing agencies, community development corporations, research and consulting firms, and for private residential housing developers.
The 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Report) defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability starts with cities. The majority of the world’s population will live in urban areas by mid-century, with consequent impacts on land use, the availability of drinkable water, energy production and use, air and water pollution, waste streams, and social policy. Trends in urbanization will be particularly dramatic in developing countries already laboring under constrained resource bases and stressed natural environments. Making cities sustainable is thus key to a sustainable future for all.
Transportation is about more than planes, trains, and automobiles. It is about moving people and goods from one place to another. And very importantly it is about access — how people access housing, jobs, educational opportunities, goods, services, healthcare, etc. Transportation policy therefore is interrelated with all other issue areas: economic development, public health, education, and particularly public finance. Students in the MURP program will have the opportunity to examine how transportation intersects with these policy areas. MURP graduates will bring tremendous value and insight whether working for a transportation department, transit agency, or organizations that are not primarily focused on transportation but on issues impacted by it.