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Comments on UIOWA Masters Program

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I have been offered admission into University of Iowa's masters in Urban Planning program, but have had little contact with current or former students. Anyone out there who can comment on the their program?
 

DecaturHawk

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Contour said:
I have been offered admission into University of Iowa's masters in Urban Planning program, but have had little contact with current or former students. Anyone out there who can comment on the their program?
I am a graduate of the program, as is one of the moderators of this fourm, giff57. PM me (PM=private message) and I will be happy to tell you all about it in detail.

In a nutshell, Iowa's program is policy oriented. If you want to learn how to draw and draft and design, you should probably look into Iowa State or Illinois or one of the other design-oriented schools. If you want a policy orientation, Iowa is top notch. And Iowa City is a great place to spend your grad years. Let me know what your interests are and I can point you to some resources.
 

giff57

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Yes.....what he said :) I can also give you a couple of names of folks in Iowa City you can chat with.

If you have questions, just ask.
 
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Thanks, more please..

DecaturHawk said:
I am a graduate of the program, as is one of the moderators of this fourm, giff57. PM me (PM=private message) and I will be happy to tell you all about it in detail.

In a nutshell, Iowa's program is policy oriented. If you want to learn how to draw and draft and design, you should probably look into Iowa State or Illinois or one of the other design-oriented schools. If you want a policy orientation, Iowa is top notch. And Iowa City is a great place to spend your grad years. Let me know what your interests are and I can point you to some resources.
Hello,

Thanks for your info. Good to hear that Iowa is top notch for policy. One question, how is missing design detrimental to a career in planning? Any particular way? Any other info you can tell me would be appreciated greatly and compensated with a beer if possible. Which profs are great? What range of classes in other majors is possible? Etc.

Thanks again, Jeff
 

DecaturHawk

Cyburbian
Messages
880
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Contour said:
Hello,

Thanks for your info. Good to hear that Iowa is top notch for policy. One question, how is missing design detrimental to a career in planning? Any particular way? Any other info you can tell me would be appreciated greatly and compensated with a beer if possible. Which profs are great? What range of classes in other majors is possible? Etc.

Thanks again, Jeff
Let me start by saying that I graduated in 1987 and there have been some changes since then. It's my impression that the program is better today than it was when I was there, since there is now an emphasis on GIS and computer aided planning that didn't exist in my day. Only a few of the current faculty were there back then, and giff57 is probably a better source of info on the newer faculty than am I.

As to lacking a design emphasis, again I think it has to do with what kind of planning you want to do. If you are interested in land use planning, whether or not you are a good designer, it helps to have an eye for good design, as you will be evaluating the work of others (project engineers, architects, landscape architects, etc.). Take advantage of opportunities in grad school to learn about different design approaches. One advantage a policy-trained planner may have over one that is trained mostly or strictly in design is that you will be influencing decision makers on which design approaches best serve the public interest. The collective decision making and political process classes you can take at Iowa will help you a great deal there.

That being said, in retrospect I do wish I had some opportunity to learn some rudimentary drafting and design, as sometimes you need to be able to create drawings and other graphics to make your point. I think if you talk with your graduate counselor you will be able to find some instruction in graphics design while at Iowa, and as I said above, there are probably computer-aided planning courses in the current curriculum that did not exist in my day.

I enjoyed learning under Dave Forkenbrock and Peter Fisher, two longtime members of the faculty. I also knew John Fuller, the other of the three long-tenured faculty members (Fuller taught transportation planning; I never had one of his classes). Forkenbrock teaches land use planning, economic development, and transportation policy as it relates to economic development. Fisher's expertise is in municipal finance and capital planning. Both are good teachers. The highly cooperative style of the program, from the informal teaching relationships to the collaborative atmosphere of the "drafting room" makes for a great opportunity to learn, have a good time, and make lifetime friends.

Best of luck to you. Let me know how you like it.
 
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