The Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina was established in 1946.
It was among the first 10 planning education programs in the United States. The original bases of the Department and its program were ideas about regionalism (hence the degree, Master of Regional Planning), broadly conceived development planning, and the application of social science methods to practical problems of government that were being explored on the Chapel Hill campus in the 1940's.
This was the first planning department to be established with its principal university base in the social sciences rather than in architecture or landscape design and to demonstrate the interdisciplinary union of social science, design and engineering. It has retained and strengthened that social science legacy through the multidisciplinary research and teaching programs of its faculty.
Learn more about our history from a founding member, F. Stuart Chapin, Jr.
From an original concern for applications of social science to regional development needs, coupled with a traditional basis in physical planning prevalent in the 1940's and 1950's, the Department broadened the scope of its curriculum and its faculty in the following decades. Urban and community planning were included almost from the start, and land use planning became the basic approach to physical planning. Social planning, housing, and environmental planning were added in the 1960's. Economic development and community development were added in the 1970's.
The Department added planning in developing countries, real estate development, and public policy analysis in the 1980's. The History, Design and Preservation of the Built Environment is the most recent specialization addition. The Department has also increased its dual degree and certificate programs. With populations growing, environmental concerns increasing, and laws becoming more complex, DCRP has teamed with other departments to create dual-degree programs that meet the increasing demands facing urban America. Current dual-degree programs include: Business, Landscape Architecture, Law, Public Administration and Public Health.
The concept of sustainable development as a goal of planning remains central to the Department's mission. Whether the objectives are improved physical, social, economic, or environmental conditions, or more efficient and equitable policies, programs and environments, planning is a way of effectively marshalling resources to public development objectives. The professional planner combines an understanding of urban and regional theory grounded in a spatial context and a grasp of planning and management methods to guide development in the public interest.
The history of the Department is also revealed by several founding faculty members. John A. Parker was the founder and head of the Department for its first 28 years, through 1974 and remained active in alumni affairs and other departmental functions for the subsequent 25 years (see sidebar). Jim Webb, designer, practitioner and contributor to the original plan for the Research Triangle Park, was the first faculty member hired by Parker. F. Stuart Chapin, Jr., the second faculty member hired by Parker, became the model social science scholar and wrote the seminal text on urban land use planning. Maynard Hufschmidt came from the Harvard water resources planning program in the 1960's, to help build the environmental and policy analysis areas. Shirley Weiss became a leading scholar in central city revitalization and large scale development planning. Edward Kaiser spent his entire 38-year career here carrying on Chapin's work and contributing significantly to the field of development management.