About SCARP and Planning

What is Community and Regional Planning?


Winner of the 2014 'What Is Planning?' Video Contest - by Master's student Malcolm MacLean

Community and regional planners: 

  • Envision what cities and communities can be (aspirationally and tangibly), while honouring the cultural and practical realities of what a community already is 
  • Analyze and try to solve social, environmental, and economic problems facing communities and regions today 
  • Use public engagement, analysis, deliberation, and communication to address challenges and work towards world-changing goals such as social and environmental justice 
  • Deploy well-defined tools such as zoning by-laws, citizen engagement, and land-use policies to manage a wide range of issues, including transportation, housing, real estate development, community-building, and the allocation of social services, which affect our everyday lives in communities, cities, and regions 
  • Prepare for and manage the social, infrastructural, and economic challenges that transitions and transformations bring 
  • Operate in complex social and political environments that are shaped by local, regional, national, and transnational forces 

Planners Today 

Today, planning addresses some of the biggest challenges facing society in our rapidly-changing world — to name a few: 

  • Climate Change 
  • Community vulnerability and resilience to hazards 
  • Systemic injustice 
  • Decolonizing professional and community practices and repairing Indigenous partnerships 

We ask crucial questions about the formation of regions and communities: 

  • “Who do cities benefit?” 
  • “Why are those benefits allocated across the population in particular ways?” 
  • “How do citizens, institutions, and the market negotiate urban values and trajectories?”  

The craft of city-making and community planning requires understanding how spatial and cultural contingencies produce a broad range of expected and unexpected outcomes for people. For this reason above all, planners make community-building a deliberate and thoughtful enterprise, aware of and concerned with equitably thriving peoples.  

Planning as a profession 

While urban planning has always been a well-regarded profession, planning is becoming even more broadly recognized. Not only is there keen interest in urban planning among UBC’s undergrads, but BC has incorporated urban studies into all years of K-12 education.  

To a greater extent than ever, the world is aware that to build a community and to address its challenges requires planning in partnership.  

UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning

The School of Community and Regional Planning is one of the larger graduate planning schools in North America. It is unique in being accredited in Canada and the United States, by both the Planning Accreditation Board and the Planning Standards Board

We at SCARP: 

  • Equally advance planning education and research 
  • Understand planning as concerned with the well-being of communities (from rural contexts to global mega-cities), alongside the overall health of the planet 
  • See our role as planners as being to facilitate change across a range of policy domains, and in equitable partnerships within the larger community 
  • Encourage regard for international experience and insights, as well as more locally to Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing 
  • Recognise the need for planning in Canada to confront its history, and embrace its responsibilities to Indigenous communities 

But who are we? 

SCARP is a community of students, alumni, community partners, faculty, and staff who all comprise who we essentially are. Our students are torchbearers of their own close-knit community and represent the School’s excellence with their real-world projects. Our alumni keep close ties to share information, to network, and to mentor students. An ever-growing suite of business partners symbiotically present real problems for students to tackle in partnership.  

But none of this happens automatically: not only do faculty students and staff invigorate the community well beyond the academic, but individuals in the student body partner with the School to enrich each academic year with events, information sharing, camaraderie, and community panache. This flourishing planning community thrives on student initiative, partnership, and leadership, whether to activate the student body in camaraderie or to realize your vision of who we are and what we could become. 

A Faculty of Applied Science School 

SCARP is a member of UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science, which includes a unique constellation of disciplines. Our faculty’s core purpose is to discover, design, innovate, provide unwavering top-tier education and champion a community of responsible professionals. 

Being in the Faculty of Applied Science enables planning students and faculty to work alongside other professionally oriented disciplines, such as architecture, nursing, and engineering. These disciplines often overlap our own priorities and research insights, and synergies between us benefit us all, as schools and as professional fields.  

We acknowledge 

The UBC School of Community and Regional Planning is situated within the traditional ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. We also resolve that this acknowledgement is only the beginning of our due diligence, and that our commitment is shown in our actions rather than our affirmations. 

Affiliated Centres

Members of the SCARP community benefit from interdisciplinary collaborations with faculty, research associates and students from a number of centres and institutes across the UBC campus. Our affiliations range from cross appointments for faculty to partnership on major grants to interdisciplinary research supervision and teaching: