I am an aspiring urban planner, or at least think that is what I am most interested in. I am about to begin the sojourn that is the application process to graduate school for a MUP/MCP. I have a few concerns about this direction as I'm making the concrete steps towards the planning world.

I'm wondering how culturally oriented the urban planning world can be? I studied art theory and urban studies during my undergraduate degree. After graduating, I moved to London and worked with a small consultancy that described its work as "research, strategy and visioning services for public and private sector clients." They provide public realm strategies, cultural strategies, vision documents, public art commissions, mapping and wider area surveys amongst other services. In the UK, public art and social/cultural programming were considered part of the community development process. I was one of a handful of authors on a social and cultural survey that advised a public realm strategy for a central London neighborhood. And loved this work!

Upon my return to the US and subsequent job search, I've had trouble finding organizations and projects in the planning industry that include these cultural/public art methodologies within community regeneration. Is this the norm, a recession-caused cutback or an errant observation? Should I be looking into a different industry?

If these types of methodologies are something I'm very interested in professionally and hope to study for graduate school, what types of programs should I look into? Is an American MUP/MCP appropriate? I am very interested in MIT's City Design and Development program and Columbia's GSAPP. Are these the right programs to be looking into?

Thank you so much for your advice!