On a sunny day in early May, a cohort of 18 members of the Washington District Council convened at ULI’s Georgetown office for an afternoon training on one of ULI’s signature programs, UrbanPlan.
UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging, and academically challenging classroom-based, Web-supported program in which high school and college students learn the roles, issues, trade-offs, and economics involved in urban development. Student learning is multidisciplinary, through role-play, experiential-learning, and real-world homework assignments. ULI members who participate in the required training have the opportunity to serve as a volunteer guest “facilitator” or “city council member” at various intervals during the program.
The training, led by ULI Senior Director Sophie Lambert, drew on a variety of media – including presentations, video clips, experiential learning, and role-playing – to educate participants about the program, including strategies for serving as an effective facilitator and juror. Participants had an opportunity to reenact different UrbanPlan scenarios using lego and duplo blocks and other materials that UrbanPlan students also use in the classroom, including a excel-based financial model that quantifies revenues as well as the costs of developing different uses – such as residential, office, and retail – among other things.
Working with UrbanPlan is one of the most rewarding experiences for ULI members at the local level, and several training participants had extremely positive feedback on their training experience. One ULI member reported: “enjoyed myself immensely!” Another member reflected that the training was “organized, efficient and productive.” The multidisciplinary background of ULI’s membership base makes member involvement with the program particularly rewarding, because each new perspective shared with students provides a learning opportunity in a manner that differs from regular classroom-based learning.
In the Washington District Council, the UrbanPlan program is overseen by the UrbanPlan Committee, which is chaired by Dan Anderton. Currently, UrbanPlan is successfully run in classrooms in three high schools and one University throughout the Metropolitan Washington Region, and the Committee is contemplating strategic expansion of the program. For more information about UrbanPlan, please visit http://washington.uli.org/uli-in-action/urbanplan/.