Planning for Developing Areas

“DURP is one of just a few programs whose graduates consistently… practice good discernment and understand the relationships and politics that infuse every day of a planner’s work.” 

– Sara Dechter, Class of 2004


John Felkner
Lisa Turner de Vera


The Planning for Developing Areas specialization prepares students for the challenges of guiding economic and social development in the context of increasing globalization, commonly defined as the increasing interconnectedness of people, places, and institutions worldwide. Development planners work in urban and rural developing areas around the world. For example, they may facilitate community participation in development projects, work to strengthen the capacities of non-governmental organizations to deliver services and mobilize resources, implement the decentralization of government services to medium and small towns, help shape donor policies and practices in the area of gender and development, or design sustainable development strategies at the international, national, regional, or local levels.

Courses address cross-cutting issues such as globalization, democratization, gender and development, and sustainable development. They provide students with an understanding of the legal and institutional context within which planners operate and of sector-specific issues and strategies. The latter include regional economic development, microenterprise development, housing and infrastructure, capacity-building particularly among non-governmental organizations, and the role and impact of population growth and distribution. Students also develop skills in the preparation of development plans, in the design, management, and implementation of development projects, and in participatory planning and research.

Students are encouraged to select a concentration in a particular issue area of international planning and development. Concentrations can be in one of the other Department specializations (such as Environmental Planning, Transportation Planning, or Neighborhood Planning and Community Design) or can consist of two thematically selected electives from within, or outside the Department. Additional examples of appropriate concentrations include international housing and slums planning or design, planning for poverty, resilient urban systems, LGBTI planning in less developed countries, planning for climate change in less developed areas, international migration or refugee planning, food systems planning for less developed areas, natural capital accounting, disaster planning and emergency management, green infrastructure, urban land use planning in less developed areas, health planning in less developed areas, planning for social justice, international organizations, environmental conflict, and economic development, non-governmental or non-profit organizations, development administration and finance, and others. Students should consult with an advisor from the specialization for the coursework appropriate to different concentrations.

Required Courses


  • URP 5610 Introduction to Development Planning
  • URP 5611 Strategies for Planning in Less Developed Countries

Choose at least 1 of the following:

  • URP 5355 International Transportation Planning
  • URP 5805 Multicultural Urbanism

In addition to these required courses, a wide range of graduate courses offered in other Departments at FSU provides a rich array to support a broad range of student interests within the Planning in Developing Areas specialization. Students are encouraged to consider these courses and work with their advisors to select courses that will support their particular interests, within the realm of planning for developing areas. The following is a partial listing of related available courses at FSU:

  • INR 5936 Climate Change and Food
  • INR 5507 International Organizations
  • ECO 5005 Economic Principles for International Affairs
  • ECS 5015 Economic Development: Theory and Problems
  • Geo 5358 Environmental Conflict and Economic Development
  • GEO 5453 Global Health
  • GEO 5417 Race and Place
  • INR 5036 International Political Economy
  • PAD 5142 Managing the Non-Profit Organization
  • PAD 5173 Nongovernmental Organizations
  • PAD 5208 Budget and Finance in Non-Profit Organizations
  • PAD 5310 Disaster Management Planning for Poor Urban Communities
  • PAD 5378 Disaster Systems
  • PAD 5389 Disasters: From Shock to Recovery
  • PAD 5397 Foundations of Emergency Management
  • PAD 5398 Emergency Management Programs, Planning, and Policy
  • PAD 5475 Women, Disasters and Conflict
  • PAD 5828 The Third Sector: Non-Profit, Non-Gov Organizations, and Disaster
  • PAD 5835 International and Comparative Disaster Management
  • PAD 5836 International and Comparative Administration
  • PAD 5845 Public Health and Emergency Management
  • SYA 6933 International Migration
  • SYD 5046 International Population Dynamics
  • SYD 5105 Population Theory
  • SYD 5135 Techniques of Population Analysis
  • SYD 5215 Health and Survival
  • LAW 6260 Public International Law

Employment Placements

Recent Job Placements

  • American Red Cross, Coastal Virginia Section
  • ABA ROLI Consulting Group, Washington, DC
  • MEDAIR Disaster Relief, Haiti
  • Florida Dept Emergency Mgmt
  • SODADE, Haiti
  • Best Buddies International – Area Director for Asia and Oceania
  • Housing Bureau, Portland, OR
  • ANERA, Beirut, Lebanon
  • CRS, Brazil

Specialization Research at FSU

Ongoing Research Projects by Faculty and Students

  • New towns and new capital cities in Africa
  • Women’s employment in Columbia
  • Resiliency and squatter settlements
  • How participatory, multistakeholder urban programs affect health, safety, and well-being in Kerala, India