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Our planning minor is one of only a few in New York. Geographers often work as planners to ensure that communities develop in an orderly way, along with the services necessary to support them. Planners must be able to develop building plans for subdivisions and housing projects. They need to understand all the factors that affect the value of land and real estate. Planning is a rapidly expanding field, and geographers are filling a great many jobs. Planning courses teach students how to prepare master plans that will benefit neighborhoods, communities, cities, and regions. Support courses include material on the geography of population, transportation, social services, utilities, and solid-waste-disposal systems. Other topics include natural resource planning, land-use planning, and the delivery of municipal services (which involves the planning of police patrol routes, the location of firehouses and emergency medical services, and ways of making school bus routes shorter and more efficient). One of the newest planning-related applications includes the use of GIS for Homeland Security.
Urban and community planners work to make cities pleasant and attractive places in which to live and work, taking into account zoning, traffic patterns, building density, recreational facilities, and the management of waste materials and water. They try to organize streets and the flow of traffic to avoid congestion. They try to plan for recreation so that everyone will have access to parks and open spaces. Planners work closely with builders to make sure that cities develop within the limits of the master plan. They need lots of geographical information to do all this.
Transportation has become a major problem in every large urban area in the world. Typically, commuters head into the middle of the city in the morning and back to the outskirts at the end of the day. This puts an enormous strain on transportation systems and creates the need for careful planning. Transportation planners try to balance the use of private vehicles with the use of public transportation by developing multimodal systems that utilize cars, buses, commuter trains, subways, and even streetcars and helicopters.
Most planners have bachelor's or higher degrees, and some have to pass a national exam. Urban and regional planning programs are available at some universities. Often, students take courses in public administration or public finance, as well as geography.
Formal planning courses offered within the Geography Department include: GEG 301 - Global Planning Principles; GEG 303 - Environmental Conservation (Natural Resource Planning); GEG 307 - Urban Geography and Planning; GEG 321 - Planning Process; and GEG 431 - Recreational Land Use Planning. GEG 490, Independent studies and internships play a pivotal role in the planning minor.
If you would like more information about geography at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact
Dr. Robert Fuller, Chairperson
Office: Ward Hall 239
Phone: (518) 564-2028
Fax: (518) 564-5267