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


Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters

Taught by

urban planning
political science and economics

This two-quarter upper-division program will provide an interdisciplinary, in-depth focus on how land has been viewed and treated by humans historically and in contemporary times. How can today’s built environments be explained, and what should be preserved? We will give special attention to the political, legal, economic, social/cultural, environmental, and justice contexts of land use. We will also look at land ethics, concepts of land ownership, and efforts to regulate land uses and protect lands that have been defined as valuable by society. We will consider more sustainable development patterns to accommodate population growth and improve public health, especially walkable urban density.

To understand the purpose of land use policy and regulation, the following topics and disciplines will be used to evaluate the human treatment of land, primarily in the United States: history and theory of land use planning; economic and community development; the structure and function of American government and federalism; public policy formation and implementation; contemporary land use planning and growth management; elements of environmental and land use law; economics; fiscal analysis of state and local governments; and selected applications of qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as statistics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). 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, stewardship, conservation, and the specific skills sets required for professional level work in this dynamic field.

The program will include lectures, seminars, guest speakers, films, workshops and in-class simulations (e.g., a mock public hearing), field trips in western Washington and individual and group research projects and presentations. Students will also acquire professional writing skills through instruction and practice in formats such as the policy briefing paper. 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, theoretical, and economic context. 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 at the state and local government levels, major policies such as the Washington State Growth Management Act, historic preservation, and economic development. During spring quarter, additional subtopics of interest to the program will be explored through major group projects and presentations or internships. Students will leave the program with credits for an emphasis in land use planning—an excellent preparation for potential professional careers and the prerequisites for many graduate programs in land use planning, public administration, and public policy.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

government, urban planning, architecture, non-profit sector, public/environmental policy, and economic development.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.


Date Revision
April 23rd, 2015 This program will be winter-spring.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Numbers

Jr (16 credits): 20085
Sr (16 credits): 20174

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Signature Required

New students must meet with faculty prior to enrolling and perform make-up work.

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 30054

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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