BY SAWYER CORNELIUS
Salisbury University geography and geosciences department announced the opening of a new bachelor’s degree program in the studies of urban and regional planning (URPL).
The multidisciplinary program fills the growing need for professionals willing to preserve society’s history, culture and resources through responsible planning and development.
Associate professor of the geography and geosciences department, Amal Ali, commented on the details of the new program.
“If you really want to make a difference in your local community, [URPL] is for you,” Ali said.
Whether it is helping communities overcome environmental hazards, gaining economic opportunity or improving the overall quality of life, planners are of great importance.
The new urban planning program provides much greater insurance in securing a career within the planning industry than the formerly offered planning and land use track granted.
“Now, with the offering of a full program with the current minor, the job market will respond greater to Salisbury University applicants than the replaced academic tracks,” Ali said.
Enrollees of URPL are also encouraged to minor in a related area, such as conflict analysis and dispute resolution, environmental studies, economics, geography, GIS, history or political science for a more conceptual understanding.
URPL incorporates real-world experience with an internship opportunity which uniquely spans a full academic year.
Students of the program will begin their personalized internships in the fall of their senior year.
Pupils will not only benefit from one-on-one training, but will also take part in contracted field work conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning.
“Working with the State during the field work period is a great outlook in the career of planning,” Ali said.
SU students have already responded to the new addition in geoscience choices with several already enrolled for the launch in Fall 2017.
Dean of the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology Karen Olmstead, explained in a press release the shared vision between this program and the university’s mission statement.
“This new program supports the university’s mission of empowering students to be gainfully employed citizens in our interdependent world,” Olmstead said. “We hope some of them will affect positive change right here on the Eastern Shore.”
According to Ali, the planning and urban development sector is undersupplied for job placement post-graduation.
“Job-wise, it is an exceptional time to take up a career in planning the future,” Ali said. “Students who have graduated have found positions in architecture, engineering, consulting and sustainability firms, as well as the Maryland Department of Planning and other like county offices.”
The U.S. and Maryland Departments of Labor predict substantial increases in urban planning jobs in the next five to 10 years.
Senior Hunter Phillips hopes to become a local planner and is making the switch to the new program before graduation in December.
Phillips believes the new program and the internship with the Maryland Department of Planning’s Lower Eastern Shore Regional Office will help him “obtain a job straight out of college.”
For details concerning the new program’s perquisites, requirements and opportunities, visit www.salisbury.edu/geography.