Political Ecology of Land: Urban Planning, Property Rights, and Land Stewardship

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Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

political science, economics

This program will provide an interdisciplinary, in-depth focus on how land has been viewed and used by humans historically and in contemporary times. We will attempt to understand today’s built environments from a variety of perspectives and determine how they can accommodate new challenges, including environmental, economic, financial, and fiscal constraints. We will give special attention to the political, legal, economic, financial, and social/cultural contexts of land use. We will look at and evaluate efforts to regulate land uses and protect lands that have been defined as valuable by society.

To understand the purpose of land use policy and regulation, the following topics and disciplines will be used to evaluate the human relationship to land in the U.S.: the structure and function of American government; the history and theory of land-use planning; economic and community development; public policy formation and implementation; contemporary land-use planning practices; growth management; selected elements of environmental and land-use law; regional economics; fiscal analysis; and accounting principles applied to the public sector and nonprofit/non-governmental organizations. Selected applications of quantitative research methods will be developed throughout the program. Our goal is to have students leave the program with a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of issues surrounding land-use planning, restoration, urban redevelopment, public sector accountability, and resource management (eg. budgeting, accounting, annual reports).

The program will include lectures, seminars, guest speakers, workshops, field trips, and individual and group research projects and presentations. Students will acquire professional writing skills through instruction and practice in formats such as policy briefing papers. Students will develop an understanding of the political and economic history that brought about the need for land use regulation. This will include understanding the political, legal, economic, and financial context of the public sector. Students will apply these themes to contemporary applications and the professional world of land use planning, such as understanding the legislative and public policy processes in Washington State, major policies such as the Washington State Growth Management Act, The Shoreline Master Program, Historic Preservation, and economic development. During spring quarter, we will develop an in-depth understanding of budgeting and financial management in the public and nonprofit sectors, as well as the increasing importance of fiscal impact analysis. Students will leave the program with credits emphasizing land use planning, public policy, accounting, and public sector fiscal and financial management—excellent preparation for potential professional careers and the prerequisites for many graduate programs in land-use/urban planning, public administration, public policy, and private-sector work in consulting firms and non-governmental organizations.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: government, urban planning, architecture, non-profit sector, public/environmental policy, and economic development.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia