Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Urban planning and public health

  1. #1
    Feb 2008
    Brooklyn, NY

    Urban planning and public health


    I'm getting undergrad degrees in both urban planning and public health. I want to do grad school in both as well. Can anyone tell me any specific ways or careers where I can collaborate them? I've been working in non-profit with children's welfare and homelessness, but I'd like to incorportate urban planning.

  2. #2
    Jun 2005
    Quote Originally posted by Brooklynite View post

    I'm getting undergrad degrees in both urban planning and public health. I want to do grad school in both as well. Can anyone tell me any specific ways or careers where I can collaborate them? I've been working in non-profit with children's welfare and homelessness, but I'd like to incorportate urban planning.
    This is a really interesting combination. I have an undergrad in poli sci, a master's in urban planning, and if I ever go back to school, I'll get a doctorate studying how public health is linked to land use. There are jobs for people who study land use and public health, like how people who spend all day commuting end up being obese, or they spend all their free time in the gym to keep from being obese, and miss out on other things. If you're interested in children's welfare, you can look at how land use decisions in urban planning affect children's ability to get proper exercise and nutrition. Of course, there are a lot of other factors contributing to childhood obesity, but this is a big one.

    You're right to plan on grad school. The jobs you'd want (probably the best would be with government agencies, medical professionals, or in education) would require advanced training. I would be wary of majoring in the exact same combination in undergrad and grad school. Make sure you get exposure to other subjects, and hone any other interest areas. Those sometimes completely unrelated skills are what make you stand out.

    And learn Spanish if you don't know it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    My Undergrad (from Rutgers) was technically Urban Studies and Public Health, but I don't remember taking but one Public Health class or using that in the future. The Urban Studies should do you just fine for Grad school or a planning job.

    You could always go into Code Enforcement or Chief Health Inspector?

  4. #4
    Aug 2006
    Wherever mediocore planning lurks
    While this is an emerging field there isn't a lot work out there yet - there is some but relatively speaking were taking about factions of a %. This is currently being tackled from both the planning and health professions, although seriously lacking from the planning profession IMO. My planning association has attempted to bring this into light with policy papers, but are "a mile wide and an inch thick". Most of the criticism has come from the health community and most of the work can be found probably in that field.

    I'm not sure how your area is set up but where I am the health units take on this responsibility, and its really up to the medical officer of health to make this an issue to be pursued by staff and projects or not. The State level hasn't really picked up on this yet, more on a health promotion bent. Where I am the impacts of health on the built form is primarily being tackled by the approval authority when reviewing development applications, but not all municipalities do this. Its also tough for planners to raise these issues without credible methods for analysis on a case by case basis. Personal opinions and observations is one thing, but publicly defending a position is another.

    But if more governments and approval authorities pick up on this, the planning profession will also see a niche to fill as well. You can also try making a pitch with your local medical association to provide a position paper on this as a communique for approval authorities, with you leading the research of course, but whether or not that will fund a position for you is a different story.

  5. #5

    My Masters is in planning and my doctorate is in public health. I have an academic career where I teach courses that relate to both fields, which as you know have a lot in common. You will need a Masters in one or the other to access the better jobs. Around the Boston area, there are beginning to be jobs that address development or built environment - health issues. Another new area is in health impact assessment.

    There is a student group here with participation from Harvard, MIT, Tufts and Boston University. It is called the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Planning and Public Health. You might google it and check out their website.

  6. #6
    Aug 2001
    Elmira, Ontario, Canada
    There are some people in the field, and it seems to be expanding, (see this link for example). Lately I have been dealing with the public health staff more and more.


  7. #7
    Great topic!!!! I have a Master of Public Health (concentration of environmental health) and a Master of Science in Planning & GIS. I would say that it it a relatively newer concept of joining the two disciplines, but one with a great deal of promise. If you consider that the origins of zoning were related to public health, it seems amazing that the two fields have been so isolated from each other. I work for a county health department and am in the process of trying to get initiatives that relate planning to health benefits. But, with everything government-related, the wheels turn slooooooooooooowly Please keep this thread going and the ideas flowing!!!

  8. #8
    Feb 2007
    my undergrad was sociology, I worked in public health policy analysis and am now working on a masters in planning.

    In general there is a lot of overlap between PH and planning.

    I'd probably advise not getting master's in both. The cost isn't worth it. Either get a master's in one that integrates both, or consider a masters in one adn a PhD in the other.

    An MPH like a MCRP/MURP is kind of a professional degree and both require a lot of hours both are 48 or more.

    If you are already not familiar with Jason Corburn's work you might want to read up. I do think he has a bit of a dated interpretation of PH. But he is at Berkeley now and they have top schools in planning and public health and that might be a good place for you.

    Also Corburn has been working with Nancy Krieger at the Harvard SPH and you may want to see what they've been up to. I think the epidemiologists (epidemiology being the core science of PH, planning seems to lack a core science, although both are very interdisciplinary and draw on many sciences) have a more rigorous and positivist approach, where planning in my limited experience, at least at my school, seems to be not very rigorous, very normative, and at times honestly a very superficial understanding of economics and stats, not that I am any brainiac, but I know a dilettante when I hear one- it's a frig'n choir sometimes.

    It all depends on what you want to do. But I wouldn't get two masters unless you have time and money to burn. But I think it is a re-emerging field and the two blend well. I am using more my policy background , but in planning policy seems more politicized than in my experience in PH.

    UCLA would also be another good place. UC Irvine has a social ecology program, they are the original "people, place, and health" folks from decades ago, re. 'health and the built environment' that is so en vogue now.

    Now that I think about it, really work on your stats/methods background, I have run across quite a few journal articles in the Planning magazine and JAPA that are seriously flawed in stats and methods. YOu could make a career out of criticizing the hacks, and all the better if you can develop better methods. Or at least actually use the existing methods correctly and properly interpreting them. Sorry I am ranting....

    Best wishes.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Signature's avatar
    Aug 2007
    Definitely check out UC Irvine! They have this as an area of emphasis in planning, I believe, especially if you are interested in obesity. Good luck!

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 2
    Last post: 13 Jun 2016, 5:46 PM
  2. Dual degrees in urban planning and public health
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 23 Feb 2015, 1:21 PM
  3. Replies: 5
    Last post: 17 Dec 2009, 3:39 PM
  4. Replies: 19
    Last post: 30 Nov 2005, 12:05 AM