Community Planning

Many pressing challenges facing contemporary cities are felt most acutely at the community level: poverty, inequality, homelessness, environmental injustices, and police violence, to name a few. Planning at the community scale seeks to address the immediate needs of local people while also empowering citizens to participate in governance and effect change at larger scales. The community planning focus area is designed to help students understand the larger political and economic forces that create structural inequalities, and appreciate the importance of local action for removing them.

Community planners serve as mediators, translators, and strategists who work with multiple stakeholder groups. To do this, they must possess a broad array of skill sets, including community organizing, policy analysis, meeting facilitation, and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Above all, community planners must be skilled communicators. Course work, independent research, and service learning projects equip students for the many roles they might play as community planners, whether in municipal government, for non-profit organizations, or with local community groups.

Because the need for local organizing transcends geographic boundaries, community planning courses bring together global and U.S-based content, drawing on examples from the local Hawai’i context whenever possible. This geographic breadth prepares students with a broad perspective on community planning practices irrespective of where they may choose to practice.

Recent capstone topics

  • Planners’ role in juvenile justice reform
  • Budgeting for the people: Participatory budgeting as a tool in planning
  • Asset mapping in participatory community development
  • Community-based economic development in Hawai‘i: Reflections form the past, lessons for the future
  • A framework for understanding a cultural-based intervention program: Evaluation through Indigenous eyes

Courses in this stream

Courses may be listed in more than one stream.

  • PLAN 610 Community Planning and Social Policy
  • PLAN 615 Housing
  • PLAN 616 Community Based Planning
  • PLAN 618 Community Economic Development
  • PLAN 619 Multiculturalism in Planning and Policy
  • PLAN 627 Negotiation and Mediation in Planning
  • PLAN 632 Planning in Hawai’i and Pacific Islands
  • PLAN 641 Neighborhood and Community Land Use Planning
  • PLAN 685 Community Development

View full course descriptions and class availability.