The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Ecological Planning

This specialization emphasizes the knowledge, practice, and processes involved in weaving together social, built, and natural systems to create functional, beautiful human habitats and thriving, resilient communities. Ecological planning takes an interdisciplinary approach, recognizing the roles of the built environment professions, natural sciences, and social sciences in understanding and working within human communities as complex social-ecological systems. Students learn how to draw upon diverse areas of expertise to plan and design with nature.

Career Paths

Employment opportunities for students with this expertise are in local and regional planning agencies, private consulting (green developers and sustainable design consultants), parks, greenway and preserve organizations (federal, state, local government, and nonprofit), and ecology and environmental organizations.


CMP faculty who teach and conduct research in this specialization:

Reazul Ahsan (Utah Asia Campus) – urban climate risks reduction, urban resilience, smart city planning

Sarah Canham – resilient places for aging, social justice, homelessness and housing security, affordable housing, community-engaged methods, healthcare and social service utilization

Divya Chandrasekhar – environmental policy and planning, disaster recovery and mitigation policy, community-based disaster recovery planning, international development and planning

Sarah Hinners  – urban ecology, landscape ecology, pollinator ecology, green infrastructure, ecological planning, collaborative adaptive management, scenario planning, collaborative planning, systems thinking

Alessandro Rigolon – urban green space, environmental justice, green gentrification, health equity

Danya Rumore – gateway and natural amenity region communities, environmental policy and planning, dispute resolution, conflict management, collaborative planning, consensus building, small town and resort town planning

Practitioners who teach CMP courses:
Whitney Ward – VCBO Architecture

Faculty from other departments:
Steve Burian – Civil Engineering
Brett Clark – Sociology
Robin Craig – Law
Jennifer Follstad Shah – Environment & Sustainability
Diane Pataki – Biology
Rose Smith – Biology


Complete a total of 4 courses, including the Foundational Course, plus 3 electives. Substitutions must be approved prior to taking the course.

Foundational course (required):

CMP 6010 Urban Ecology (3)


CMP 6140 Planning for Disasters & Environmental Change (3)
CMP 6270 Complexity & Systems Thinking (3)
CMP 6380 Green Communities (3)
CMP 6390 Sustainability Planning (3)
CMP 6620 Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (3)
CMP 6370 Landscape Architecture & Design with Nature (3)
CMP 6660 Green Infrastructure (3)
CMP 6960 Planning Healthy Communities (3)

Approved electives in other departments:

CVEEN 7440 Urban Watershed Management (3)
CVEEN 7660 Water Reuse for Sustainability (3)
EHY 6103 Ecology of Residency (3)
FCS 6630 Healthy Communities (3)
POLS 6322 Environmental & Sustainability Policy (3)
PRT 6420 Ecology & Management of Wildland Recreation Settings (3)
PRT 6680 Parks & Community Relations (3)
SUST 6000 Global Change & Society (3)
SUST 6800 Global Change & Sustainability Seminar (1)