Urban sprawl and haphazard, uneven growth have meant significant environmental degradation in most regions. Shortsighted land use decisions have led to the destruction of sensitive natural resources such as wetlands and woodlands (and the wildlife they support), development patterns that precipitate "natural" disasters because they encroach on and alter floodplains or fragile slopes, and a growing dependence on scarce energy and other resources. The abandonment of older developed areas for new suburban "greenfields" sites has other consequences - the decline of traditional neighborhoods, and the dilemma of what to do with old, abandoned industrial sites (brownfields). Planning to protect and preserve environmental values is intimately connected with planning to manage growth, counter sprawl, promote sustainability, and revitalize distressed communities.
The land use and environmental planning concentration combines coursework in environmental processes and regulation, and in several aspects of land use planning, including GIS applications. Supplementary environmental science courses in the Departments of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering complement the policy and planning emphasis offered in URP courses. Students in this area of concentration generally pursue careers in local, regional, state or federal government agencies, or in private consulting firms or environmental advocacy organizations. Land use and environmental planning courses are as follows: