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We believe that planning practice can make places more just and equitable.

MURP Planning Workshop students talk with East Portland Residents on the People's Plan.

We believe that planning practice addresses our common future in order to make
places better—more just, sustainable, and prosperous. We promote equity and foster an environment of cultural difference and diversity among faculty and students. These principles are fundamental to developing healthy communities and achieving academic excellence. To encourage a diverse and inclusive environment, we reaffirm our policy for equal opportunity, which ensures equal access for all according to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or veteran status.

That commitment to diversity and equity can be found in our curriculum and research. For example, students and faculty involved in Planning Methods I and Planning Workshop, along with alums, helped develop the People’s Plan for the Portland African-American Leadership Forum, which “lays out a vision of a thriving, empowered Black community and asserts the right of Black people to be in and shape community, whatever neighborhoods we live in, from the North to the Numbers.” The 2015 Workshop project focused on East Portland, and identified “planning tools and action items that can help them build roots and a sense of place in their new neighborhood after having been pushed out of the heart of the Black community that was North and Northeast Portland.” PeoplesPlanWorkshopProjectCover

In their Planning Workshop project from 2018, Elevating People: Planning for Equitable Travel to Marquam Hill, MURP students worked with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to ensure that OHSU’s vision for diversity and inclusion was consistent with goals to promote of sustainable multimodal transportation. Together, the plan and lens are aimed at improving travel to Marquam Hill by identifying Priority Communities and advancing transportation equity through internal and regional efforts.  Several other MURP Workshop projects have focused on equity and justice, including issues of affordable housing and displacement in the St. John’s neighborhood and Washington County.

Portland State’s Strategic Plan includes a commitment to using an equity lens in decision-making. You can read the case study Dr. Marisa Zapata co-wrote about it here.

Several faculty have research focused on race, justice, and equity, including:

  • Dr. Karen Gibson is examining housing and neighborhood change in Portland’s Albina District, 1940-2010. You can read more (“Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000.”) and watch and listen on the Oregon Experience show, Lift Ev’ry Voice.
  • Dr. Aaron Golub partnered with Forth and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon  to facilitate a Community-based assessment of Smart Transportation needs in the City of Portland. Increasing and improving access to existing and new and emerging transportation options for disadvantaged communities is a goal shared in the Portland-region. This study found a need for education to bridge the widening gap between English and non-native English speakers in regard to app-use, training, and access to mobility options. Other barriers include documentation and access to financial services, access to internet and phone charging, and barriers to charging EVs in multi-unit buildings.
  • Dr. Nathan McClintock is working on the Portland Black Gardens Project, an oral history and archival project documenting, archiving, and sharing history of African American food production in Albina in 1960s thru 80s. (with MudBone Grown, LLC and Dr. Julius McGee, Sociology, PSU)
  • Dr. Lisa K. Bates and Dr. Marisa Zapata examined federal efforts to “promote regional planning that incorporates social equity into sustainability and livability principles through the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant (SCRPG).”
  • Dr. Jennifer Dill’s work on equitable bike sharing examined efforts in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Brooklyn, NY.

Our school also focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion internally. Our Diversity & Equity committee, comprised of faculty and students has as its (working) mission is to “coordinate and undertake activities to make TSUSP and its academic programs more diverse, equitable and inclusive. These activities may relate to, but are not limited to: student recruitment and admissions procedures, curriculum design and content, and student climate.” In AY 2017-2018, the committee hosted listening sessions with students of color. We also consulted with the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion and our own faculty to develop a draft set of goals and actions to advance diversity, equity and inclusion The goals are: 1. improve recruitment and retention of diverse students, 2. foster an inclusive climate in the school and in the classroom, and 3. improve and deepen our attention to equity throughout the curriculum. We also established a set of strategies and identified key lead actors to advance the work Come join us!

Next: There’s more than just the MURP program.
Want to learn more about the MURP program? Complete the form below, and we will be in touch.


Photo credits: PAALF PEOPLE’S PLAN: EAST PORTLAND PILOT. A project of the PORTLAND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERSHIP FORUM Master of Urban and Regional Planning 2015 Workshop – Portland State University, Todd Borkowitz Lorrie Chang Christine Corrales Leslee Humphrey DH Strongheart Timothy Wood  https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/usp_murp/126/

JenniferDill View All

I am a Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at Portland State University.

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