Highlighting some of the key people and activities associated with planning education at Harvard, this exhibition traces Harvard’s pivotal role in shaping planning education and practice.
While the first course in city planning at Harvard was offered in 1909, it was in 1923 when the degree Master in Landscape Architecture in City Planning was introduced in the School of Landscape Architecture. A separate Graduate School of City Planning was established in 1929, the first in the United States. In 1936, it became the Department of City and Regional Planning when the Graduate School of Design (GSD) was established.
Until the late 1940s, the planning curriculum at Harvard had strong spatial concerns. The 1950s and 1960s saw the addition of social science courses to the curriculum. During the 1970s, the GSD’s planning department assumed a public policy focus and the studio method of teaching was abandoned in favor of classes in economics, politics, and statistics. In 1980, Harvard University moved the City and Regional Planning degree to the Kennedy School. In a few years, the planning degree lost favor with most students taking the basic Master in Public Policy degree.
Throughout the 1980s, the renamed Department of Urban Planning and Design’s courses attracted large numbers of students from the GSD. However, there was no first professional degree in planning in the school.
In the fall of 1994, the first students entered the new Master in Urban Planning. This accredited program in urban planning continues today.
Sophie Weston Chien (MLA I AP/MUP ‘24)
Rebecca McDonald-Balfour (MLA II/MUP ‘24)
Naomi Andrea Robalino (MUP ‘23)
With thanks to Amna Pervaiz (MUP ‘23)