Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Difference between Geography and Urban Planning?

  1. #1

    Difference between Geography and Urban Planning?

    There seems to be many planned on here who have a geography degree with an emphasis on urban planning.

    Out of curiosity, what's the main differences between the two?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    EDIT: This is tongue in cheek, but fairly representative of my workplace. it is not meant to be hostile by any means!

    Geographers MAKE maps.

    Urban Planners run to their geographers and say "Make me a Map!"

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,672
    Blog entries
    3
    Geography - study of place.
    Urban planning - study of the built environment.

    Urban planning, in academia, is usually a combination of geography and architecture, along with some elements of economics, sociology and political science.

    In the US at least, as an undergraduate field of stud, urban planning is often grouped with geography, On a graduate level, it's usually grouped with architecture. Less often, planning it will be with public policy.

    Just my opinion
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Jeffstantinople
    Posts
    267
    I have bee having problems trying to seperate the two. My passion is geography and I thought that getting a Masters degree in planning would provide a way for me to be a geographer. this has not happened yet. I don't like the social "engineering" asspects of planning.

    I guess I don't know. I'm going to keep watching this forum.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,881
    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner
    Out of curiosity, what's the main differences between the two?
    Geographers are technicians... ???

    Planners create and implement policy... ???

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,059
    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Geographers are technicians... ???

    Planners create and implement policy... ???
    Geographers are technicians? Not even close!

    Dan had the best answer.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,557
    Blog entries
    1

    Or

    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Geography - study of place.
    Urban planning - study of the built environment.
    or

    Geography- Study of Place
    Urban Planning- Study of PROCESS

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  8. #8
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Capital Region, NY
    Posts
    1,429
    Quote Originally posted by gicarto
    I don't like the social "engineering" asspects of planning.
    At last...I am an engineer!

    Planners, IMHO, are Jacks of All Trades. You need to know a little about everything. Geographers are more natural science (unless you are a human geographer...then that's more anthropology) where Planners are more social scientists with a smattering of policy wonks and tree huggers.

    Dan did put it best...as always.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    9,036
    Blog entries
    2
    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    EDIT: This is tongue in cheek, but fairly representative of my workplace. it is not meant to be hostile by any means!

    Geographers MAKE maps.

    Urban Planners run to their geographers and say "Make me a Map!"

    You secretly work in my office, don't you.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    7
    I was a geography major in undergrad. Geography is a VERY broad study, more broad than urban planning. I would say that urban planning is a facet of geography. I took classes in Biogeography (plants and animals), Economic geography (different economies and why they are where they are), cartography, Cultural geography, physical geography (geomorphology, meteorology) and many others. Only a few of my classes really applied to my current job in planning (an urban planner doesn't really need to know how wind patterns are produced or what happened to the Golden Toad in Costa Rica). I know planning has specializaions to it, but geography is even more broad. Graduate geographers choose a facet of the study and really specialize in it (i.e. I had a professor who specialized in reading tree rings). Urban planning is more practical professionally, in that even the most theoretical courses basically prepare you for a job, whereas geography is more of an academic study.

    Hope this helps.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,557
    Blog entries
    1

    On track...

    Quote Originally posted by meesh47
    I was a geography major in undergrad. Geography is a VERY broad study, more broad than urban planning. I would say that urban planning is a facet of geography. I took classes in Biogeography (plants and animals), Economic geography (different economies and why they are where they are), cartography, Cultural geography, physical geography (geomorphology, meteorology) and many others. Only a few of my classes really applied to my current job in planning (an urban planner doesn't really need to know how wind patterns are produced or what happened to the Golden Toad in Costa Rica). I know planning has specializaions to it, but geography is even more broad. Graduate geographers choose a facet of the study and really specialize in it (i.e. I had a professor who specialized in reading tree rings). Urban planning is more practical professionally, in that even the most theoretical courses basically prepare you for a job, whereas geography is more of an academic study.

    Hope this helps.
    Tell me about it, I had a Geography Prof. who is an expert in out houses...
    I agree that the study of Geography is broad based in undergraduate programs and much much more specialized in graduate programs.....but lets all agree that Geographers KICK BUTT!! Oh and for you nerds out there.....if James Bond had a PhD, it WOULD be in GEOGRAPHY I think having geographers involved in Urban Planning is smart, they tend to see bigger picture issues....I think.....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  12. #12
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    9,036
    Blog entries
    2
    Quote Originally posted by The One
    Tell me about it, I had a Geography Prof. who is an expert in out houses...
    YES! He was my advisor.... what a coincidence!
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally posted by The One
    Tell me about it, I had a Geography Prof. who is an expert in out houses...
    I agree that the study of Geography is broad based in undergraduate programs and much much more specialized in graduate programs.....but lets all agree that Geographers KICK BUTT!! Oh and for you nerds out there.....if James Bond had a PhD, it WOULD be in GEOGRAPHY I think having geographers involved in Urban Planning is smart, they tend to see bigger picture issues....I think.....
    Damn straight they kick butt!! They are very green people, so I think having them well-represented in urban planning is a great thing. They're into smart urban development, anti-sprawl, pro-effective public transport etc. Hell yes!!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    19,096
    I started in Landscape Architecture, finished in Geography, and later picked up MURP.
    So I took geography was a stepping stone to get into planning.

    Dan's definition is good.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Uh,...
    Posts
    97
    Personally (and I'm not biased, or anything) I think geography is a much better background for planning than, well, planning.

    B.A., Geography, Cal. State, Sacramento, '87

    "As a young man, I dreamed of becoming a geographer. However, after considerable thought, I concluded it was much too difficult a subject. With some reluctance, then, I turned to physics as an alternative."

    Albert Einstein, unpublished papers
    "If you love something, let it go."
    What kind of crap is that?

  16. #16
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    427
    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    EDIT: This is tongue in cheek, but fairly representative of my workplace. it is not meant to be hostile by any means!

    Geographers MAKE maps.

    Urban Planners run to their geographers and say "Make me a Map!"
    But it is so true... (Geography major & GIS analyst)

    I'll definitely get a better idea of that soon, I will be the one single purpose GIS analyst in a department of 70 planners (trans, land use, etc.) starting next month.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,059
    Quote Originally posted by greginboise
    "As a young man, I dreamed of becoming a geographer. However, after considerable thought, I concluded it was much too difficult a subject. With some reluctance, then, I turned to physics as an alternative."

    Albert Einstein, unpublished papers
    Great quote!
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  18. #18
    Having two degrees in geography, one with a concentration in planning, I'd offer:

    Geography is the study of past and existing characteristics and processes of Earth's surface, including all parts of the natural and cultural environment.

    Urban planning is the practice of adapting the natural and cultural environment for sustainable human use.

    Also, geography is an academically-rooted rubric that has philosophical foundations dating to the Greeks. Urban planning as we know it is a relatively modern incarnation of practice-oriented study, which seeks to find changes to improve the human condition. In other words, geography is an academic study comfortable with knowledge and understanding as the ultimate product. Study in urban planning requires communication with active planning practice, making a difference in everyday life.

    BikePlanIt,
    B.S. Geography - Cartography/GIS '98, Texas State University - San Marcos
    Master of Applied Geography - Land/Area Development and Management '04, Texas State University - San Marcos

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Santiago, Chile
    Posts
    4,767
    As a geography student... (so yes.. I'm as biased as I can be) Chet... we're geographers, not cartographers... GIS is(should be) a tool not a profession.

    Dan's definition is way more simple and yet correct...

    Urban Planning is kind of urban geography applied to public policies...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by The One
    I think having geographers involved in Urban Planning is smart, they tend to see bigger picture issues....I think.....
    I agree.

    Geography is a broad liberal ed while Planning is professional and focused. I studied Geography w/ a Planning emphasis and I think this have given me more opportunities than a Planning major. With both majors you can go into Planning and GIS, but I can go into Marketing and even teach Geography. I'm not aware of any planners in Marketing, I could be wrong. I could even go into investment banking b/c w/ the liberal ed I've learned "how to think." The one weakness to Geography is that some planning depts want a person with a PAB-accredited degree.

    http://www.aag.org/
    http://www.planning.org/

  21. #21

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    I want to dissent from Dan's definition and the general agreement with it.

    At least half of what we do in this planning department deals with the natural, not the built, environment. And after a 30+ year career working in mostly rural places and on open space issues, I have never thought of planners or planning as being necessarily "urban," even though the global process we are dealing with is pretty well summed up as urbanization. We work at different stages of how that process affects the landscape. Some planners deal with early stages of landscape change, far from what most would call a city, others work with the later stages in the heart of a metropolis.

    I have worked with many planners who trained in geography, and some of them have been great. But in looking at the entry-level resumes I have in front of me right now, I find that the contrast is stark. The geography students (at least so far, there is a week to go) are not going to be competitve. Their resumes are all about GIS, with everything else as a footnote. And all of their internships (and internships are turning out to be one of the keys in this particular competition) were spent making maps. There is no evidence that they have the "people" skills that characterize a good planner. There is also little evidence that geographers have design skills, and our environmental planner is responsible for reviewing the visual impacts of new buildings in scenic areas. They have to be able to read an elevation, understand materials, make recommendations to developers, etc.

    This time around at least, the better candidates for this job (which you would think would be right down a geographer's line) come from accredited planning schools, landscape architecture, and political science/public administration. I have a biology major whose GIS skills are, based on the samples submitted, just as good as any of the geographers'. That person will probably drop out for other reasons, but to the extent geography has become equivalent to cartography (a point already made in this thread), it doesn't have much left to offer.

    In the final analysis, I can see what the competition is going to boil down to:

    1) the candidate's ability to convince me that he or she can sit across the table from a Vermont farmer and talk about conservation easements, that he or she can help me facilitate a controversial public meeting, and that he or she can manage a volunteer board. People skills come first in planning. Analytical skills are important, but they are relatively easy to find compared to the people skills.

    2) the candidate's understanding of basic land use law, the development review process, and the basics of design.

    The folks from accredited planning schools who have spent some time studying land conservation, hydrology, etc. are going to have the edge, although I can see that some landscape architecture students might work, too. The reason is that they have had internships (and other experiences) that involved working with the public.

    So, if you are a geography student (and I still believe it can be a good background for planning), here is the bottom line. GIS skills are great, but I have more resumes from people who can make good maps than from those whose writing skills are acceptable. You need to show me that you have more than just a modicum of course work in the other aspects of planning. You need to show that you can work with the folks. Make maps in class. Find an internship doing some real planning.

    To loop back to Dan's definition; planning is not about content. It is not about rural or urban. It is about the PROCESS of getting things done.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,881
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Geographers are technicians? Not even close!
    In consideration of Lee's post, might you be able to elaborate?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Uh,...
    Posts
    97
    I graduated before GIS was invented, so my educationmay be rather different from current geography curricula. Map-making was a very small part of my education-one 4 unit class (we made maps BY HAND!). The rest consisted of area studies, research methods, history of geography, and a lot of writing. Prior to word processors, mind you. If current geography grads are trained primarily as GIS operators, then I might be pursuaded as to the superiority of a planning degree. That said, I have yet to find anyone with a planning degree (even a Masters) who was ready to go out of the box. This job requires a great deal of OJT to be competent. I see a degree primarily as evidence that you're trainable.
    "If you love something, let it go."
    What kind of crap is that?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Sort of, um, "as inspired by" Lee's comments:

    When I was deathly ill and had nothing better to do from my sick bed but read, I bought about $300 worth of books (most of which I actually read) which looked at human problems and "city" problems from a diversity of perspectives. In "The City Reader", I read an article about the Greek city-state. The Greek word for their city-state was Polis and the article defined polis and talked about what a polis really was at some length. Polis meant the place but it also meant the political entity and also the community of people (like "tribe" kind of). My personal background is in community building of the organizational kind -- army wives groups, moderating online forums, etc -- and that article helped clarify for me why politics and land use, etc, are important for community building. So I would say that planning has to do with making things work well where humans interact with physical space and with each other. And it seems to me that Geographers actually study a lot of that but focus primarily on the interaction between humans and physical space and don't much address the other part about "people interacting with each other".

    Sort of OT (or maybe not so OT): I decided in early 1999 that I wanted "a career having something to do with the built environment" and a background in environmental studies because the natural environment is the foundation upon which the built environment stands/is rooted. I am presently a few classes short of my Bachelor's in Environmental Resource Management, have a Certificate in GIS and if I ever finish my bachelor's, I know where I want my Master's in Planning and Development Studies. I think geographers look at "place" through a humanocentric perspective: that closeness to certain natural "resources" has value in human terms, etc. Geography classes impose human based values in the manner described in "Seeing Like A State". And the very act of imposing those categories influences the situation. So I wanted an environmental studies background because I wanted to understand reality first and then look at how humans value and de-value all that is around them in self-referential terms, often in a manner which shoots themselves in the foot. Often, a problem cannot be solved until you begin asking different questions from the ones that got you into this mess. Or, to quote Einstein, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." or (the version that was in my signature block for a long time) “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”

    So, I think that geographers have about half of the equation currently used for planning but the concerns about what we are doing to our environment is rapidly complicating that formula. It is becoming increasingly necessary to start with a fundamental understanding of the natural environment and keep that in mind when considering human activity aimed at creating a "built environment" (or human environment) that actually works well. Some planners (like Lee) are "there" already, many in this forum are cognizant of it to some degree, but perhaps the planning profession as a whole isn't quite there yet? (Just speculating. Peak oil debates relate to this: oil is a finite "resource" and the reality is that when nature runs out, we can't force the ground to cough up more and those realities are about to hit home hard, never mind that we talk about oil in terms of "production" rather than "extraction", etc.)

  25. #25
         
    Registered
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    1
    As a former Geography student myself, I am amazed to find out that GIS has become such an important aspect of Geography. I always felt a little awkward that I never had to touch GIS in my program and maybe drew one or two maps, usually during physical geography classes. More often, I would be swamped with writing papers, conducting surveys and meeting with local politicians to finish my dissertation.

    I did graduate in 2001 and went through a program in New Zealand, so my knowledge of Geog programs in the US isn't very good, but GIS is still a tool through which geographers express information and hardly the discipline itself. The nature of social/urban geography is based on interactions and understanding of social processes and really requires the type of communication that Mr. Nellis' feels that most geography students are not sufficiently able to demonstrate.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 3
    Last post: 11 May 2011, 10:19 AM
  2. Replies: 5
    Last post: 16 Nov 2010, 11:35 AM
  3. Replies: 5
    Last post: 29 May 2009, 2:38 PM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last post: 29 May 2007, 10:05 AM
  5. Replies: 3
    Last post: 31 Jul 2006, 11:36 PM