I am new to urban planning, and think I might like to pursue it. The draw for me is organizing communities to build, restructure, and redesign their environment. I would like to work with working class and low income communities as my background is with workplace organizing, and I see community planning as a potential for organizing along similar lines, namely the struggle for greater degrees of autonomy in our lives.
I am speaking roughly and imprecisely here. Essentially I wanted to know which programs might foster this sort of work, if it exists? What jobs are there? I would like to work with the communities or as part of a nonprofit though might work in the public domain. I live in Portland, and have been looking at PSU, U Wash Seattle, Illinois Urbana, U Michigan, and Berkeley. I still am largely ignorant about these programs essentially with the exception of PSU. An urban studies student told me most people who go into PSU's MURP program are professionals (he said that they have or do work for the city of Portland or are from out of state while the urban studies people are mostly from in state, but lack the planning certificate)? That sounded strange to me. I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and was planning on applying right away, but could possibly take some post-bacc classes and do an internship if that were necessary.
One thing I have wondered is, as a planner doing what I want to do, would I have to be someone's employer? I am not 100% opposed to some management functions, but couldn't ever be an employer just personally.