New Urban Planning Short Course

October 25, 2022

by Cj Pettus

Rob Goodspeed

Nexus Instructor Dr. Robert Goodspeed is sharing his expertise with current practitioners interested in scenario planning.

In the spring of 2023, learners will gather—both in Ann Arbor and in a remote-live format—for a new urban planning short course called Scenario Planning for Urban Futures. The 3-day course, taught by University of Michigan Associate Professor of Urban Planning Robert Goodspeed, PhD, AICP will focus on methods and techniques that create resilient and sustainable cities.


According to Dr. Goodspeed, “scenario planning is great for communities that want to envision how they can transform themselves and grow and change in a new direction.” Including scenarios in urban planning can allow communities to both plan for growth and to become more resilient by preparing for potential challenges, including those resulting from economic downturns and climate change.

Scenario planning has the potential to be impactful in many situations and for professionals in a variety of settings. Urban planners will, of course, benefit from the content in this short course—but so will many others. Elected officials, civic leaders, philanthropic foundation staff, and nonprofit professionals can all find value in attending this new course. Dr. Goodspeed published a noted book on the topic in 2020, Scenario Planning for Cities and Regions: Managing and Envisioning Uncertain Futures. The graduate course he developed on the topic, the basis for this short course, received a Curriculum Innovation Award in 2022.


The course combines theoretical lectures, deep-dive case studies, and hands-on exercises that will offer learners a comprehensive understanding of the scenario planning approach. Drawing on the in-class activities from his award-winning course, Dr. Goodspeed says learners will experience the qualitative scenario-building process, which is the heart of many scenario efforts. Additionally, invited expert practitioners will share the latest cases and tools. The course concludes with a structured opportunity for each learner to flesh out an action plan for how to implement scenario planning in their city.

“That’s going to make the whole experience very impactful—to make it not only an academic learning experience but also one which translates into your local context. You’ll have ideas to take back to your organization, your city, your staff. And, perhaps, you’ll be inspired to pursue planning in a different way,” explained Dr. Goodspeed.

Although Dr. Goodspeed has experience teaching this content in an academic setting, he looks forward to the new opportunities that teaching current urban planning practitioners will offer. He shared, “I think the folks who are going to sign up for this are going to bring really exciting experiences, expertise, and diverse knowledge from a lot of different places. The combination of diverse learners, expert guests, and the planned activities will hopefully make this feel like less of a course and more of a high-level conference, where we can discuss where the field is headed next.”

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