Study within the Department of Geography and Regional Planning (GARP) leads to a B.S. degree in Regional Planning. This professional undergraduate degree prepares students for the vital work of designing livable, equitable, and sustainable communities, with a focus on implementing positive change. As a field, Regional Planning is engaged in understanding, evaluating, and improving the human-built environment, while maintaining the health of natural systems. Planners take on the challenges of neighborhood improvement, affordable housing, economic development, multi-modal transportation, green infrastructure, alternative energy, disaster mitigation, healthy food systems, and more.
Regional Planning majors gain the knowledge and skill set of a professional planner while exploring the values and ethical dimensions of human/environment interactions. At its heart, planning is interdisciplinary problem solving and students study the wide variety of forces that shape communities including the historical, social, economic, cultural, legal, political, ecological, and aesthetic. The coursework grounds students in theory, while the program integrates opportunities for real-world applications through case studies, field work, site visits, and a strong internship program. Hallmarks of our program are the enthusiasm of our faculty and their engagement with students and community based projects. Students also gain marketable technical skills in Geographic Information System (GIS) computer mapping techniques, site planning methods, analytical assessment, and effective communication.
Graduates of our program are in demand today at the federal, state, regional, and municipal level to develop plans for the management and protection of community resources. The majority of planners work in public agencies, although there are opportunities within private architectural, engineering, real estate, and law firms. In addition, the skills of planners are sought within the growing sector of non-governmental organizations, especially ones dealing with issues of land conservation and sustainable development. Many of our students are dual majors in Regional Planning and related disciplines (such as Environmental Science, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Ethnic and Gender Studies, History, etc.) and many of our graduates have gone on to advanced degrees.
Six GARP courses are included in the Common Core of Studies as the issues engaged, and material covered, are fundamental to the development of knowledgeable and discerning citizens. The civic education offered in these classes furthers the University’s mission to prepare students for the challenges and increasing complexity of membership in a democratic society and urbanized, globally connected world. Students can also study in the department through minors in geography, regional planning, and GIS.
The department manages the GIS Technology and Applications Center (GIST), a lab that serves as a hub for GIS activity on and off campus including classes, workshops, and research. In addition a state-of-the-art internet-enabled weather station is installed on campus and monitored by GARP faculty.
The mission of the Geography and Regional Planning Department at Westfield State University is to promote an educational experience for our students, meeting the challenges of a changing global society by:
- Developing a geospatial understanding of the physical and cultural environments of the earth, and the complex interrelationships between peoples and their environments;
- Teaching basic planning theories and applications, GIS, and other technical skill sets to solve urban and regional environmental problems;
- Focusing on human-environment relationships, with an emphasis on how culture, gender, politics, and economy affect people’s interaction with the environment; and
- Providing students with a framework in sustainable practices and ethical guiding principles to shape our communities in the future.
CoursesGeography and Regional Planning