About Us

The Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture (PLA) provides a more sustainable foundation for excellence in landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and the many intersections of these fields. Our department brings together dispersed resources to generate new knowledge and provide academic programs around urban and regional sustainability to improve the livability, economic vitality, and health of communities and their surrounding natural environments.

PLA is home to 17 tenure-track faculty, seven instructional and research academic staff, and five administrative support staff positions. The department has accredited academic programs in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) and Urban and Regional Planning (MS URPL). Integrating two complementary disciplines to create new synergies that engage faculty and students in research and outreach on planning, design, and policy is critical for understanding the natural, cultural, built and developing environments and the interconnections among urban, regional, rural, and native landscapes from large urbanized and rural regions to small, resource and amenity-dependent towns and communities. Additionally, opportunities for students and trans-disciplinary and cross-campus initiatives among faculty and staff are growing. PLA faculty are expanding their existing collaborations and strengths in applied research, teaching, and outreach programs. These substantive areas include housing policy, transportation, land use decisions and management tools, neighborhood resilience and revitalization, ecological restoration, energy, communication technologies, food and water systems, economic development, local government finance, and the impact of planning and design on health and well-being, social justice, sense of community, quality of life, and environmental quality.

PLA is strengthening long-term relationships with UW Cooperative Extension and other statewide partners. Public engagement and extensions are essential to our department and our structure provides efficiencies and coordination in applied research and service learning across our graduate and undergraduate programs. The department provides many opportunities for national and international impact in applied research and student training as well as relevant and important outreach and service to Wisconsin communities.

The fields of urban and regional planning and landscape architecture are renewing a strong disciplinary alignment around common interests in land use, community food systems, public health and welfare, social justice, environmental protection and restoration, community and economic development, and their intersections with growth, development, and spatial and social change. Both professions emphasize sustainability and resilience of social and biophysical systems at multiple scales. Both engage governmental officials, non-profit organizations, private industry, and citizens in planning, design, policy, development, and implementation projects at site-specific neighborhood, municipal, regional, state, national, and even international levels. The academic foundations for both disciplines draw upon and integrate the social sciences, biological/physical sciences, humanities, and the arts for applied research and practice. As the global population grows along with the resulting complexity of issues involving society and the environment, the planning and design of sustainable, healthy and equitable communities only increases in importance. In PLA, these fields return to their early origins of public health, welfare, and ecological improvement by integrating planning, design, community development, and public policy around the disparate needs of people in urban, suburban, exurban, and rural areas. Our department strives to be a champion for and leader in health and human well-being while conserving, restoring, and protecting our natural environment in the face of global change.

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Our Vision

We are a dynamic network of scholars and stakeholders working to advance healthy, prosperous, equitable and sustainable built and natural environments in the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea and from the local to the global scale.

Our Mission

Our scholarship and educational activities will advance sustainable and livable communities, cities, and regions that are vibrant, thriving, and resilient. We do this through integrative teaching, research, and public engagement that seeks solutions to serve human needs and protect the integrity of natural environments. The department, based upon the disciplines of landscape architecture and urban and regional planning, provides opportunities to explore interdisciplinary research, design, planning, and policy analysis at local, regional, and global scales.

Our Expectations

The new department is committed to establishing and maintaining a supportive climate of inclusion, diversity, and collegiality among our interactions and through our actions and policies. We envision a department in which all individuals are engaged in a vibrant learning community, where ideas, experiences, and perspectives are supported, nurtured, and developed to their highest levels. Attitudes, behaviors, and standards within our community will demonstrate inclusion and respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential.

Our Commitment

The Faculty, Staff, and Students of the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture are committed to:

  • Value and respect all members of our community, faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Maintain a diverse, inclusive, vibrant, stimulating, welcoming, and excellent academic experience and work environment.
  • Prevent identity-based discrimination in the department. [What is identity-based discrimination and misconduct? Please see definitions here  or the FAQ here.]
  • Prevent identity-based misconduct in the department.
  • Support survivors of identity-based misconduct.
  • Support student organizations and student initiatives.
  • Be aware of students’ needs and concerns and address concerns that come to our attention.
  • Create a department environment that models mutual respect, safety, and accountability.
  • Hear and honor the input we receive through the climate surveys and other sources of input.
  • Actively seek and encourage student, staff and faculty input in department decision making.
  • Demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion through our decisions and actions.
  • Communicate with all members of the department about changes, actions, and progress towards achieving our goals.

We will continue to monitor, evaluate, and take steps to improve our everyday interactions, classroom instruction, delivery of academic and research programs, and professional development activities.