Transnational Studies

International Programs and Activities

Professional planners in the United States increasingly draw on planning expertise and experiences from around the world in their daily practice. Faculty in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning seek to understand and teach global best practices in land use and environmental planning, transportation planning, community development, economic development, sustainable design, and other subfields. Faculty are also actively researching planning issues in other countries, as well as the impact of globalization on U.S. and foreign cities and regions, populations, and governments and institutions. Finally, the Department seeks to offer a curriculum and study abroad opportunities appropriate for students interested specifically in taking positions overseas or working for many of the national and international development agencies and organizations (what has traditionally been described as "international planning" in many academic planning departments).

DURP's international programs reflect a strong belief that the understanding of international issues and planning practice in other countries should not be the exclusive focus of students seeking to work outside the U.S. or in international development. Rather, the increasing economic, social, political and institutional connections between countries and cities and regions across the globe require that even planners working purely domestically understand the implications of globalization for their own communities as well as appreciate the rich experiences from around the world that can inform local domestic practice.

DURP's perspective is reflected in the term "transnational," which seeks to bridge the arbitrary separation of domestic and non-domestic or international issues. For example, in the MUP program, the Transnational Planning Stream seeks to immerse students in learning experiences that illustrate how local planning practices shape and are shaped by global economic, social and political trends. The experiences include student involvement in faculty-led research and teaching and service learning opportunities located within and outside the U.S. The stream is not a separate concentration, but rather a set of courses and activities that may be pursued concurrently with a student's concentration of choice. The Department also offers a broad array of study abroad opportunities for BAUP, MUP and PhD students (as described below).

More broadly, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an extraordinarily rich environment for international and transnational study and engagement. In the 2009-10 school year, Illinois ranked behind only the University of Southern California, in the number of enrolled foreign students, and Illinois has many students participating in study abroad. Illinois is the only U.S. institution of higher education ranking in the top ten in the three key metrics of international education: international student enrollment, total number of study abroad students, and the number of federally-funded Title VI National Resource Centers for international and area studies, according to statistics compiled by the Office of the Associate Provost for International Affairs.

Transnational Planning Stream

Many academic planning programs in the U.S. structure their specializations and areas of concentration such that international planning issues is covered in a separate subfield labeled "international planning" or "international development planning" that is intended to serve a distinct professional career path.  In contrast, at UIUC the Department of Urban and Regional Planning recognizes that even students preparing to practice solely within the United States benefit from exposure to international best practices in various planning subfields as well as an understanding of the implications of growing international linkages among cities and regions. See our Transnational Planning Stream information.