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Building a More Equitable World

Building a More Equitable World

Many Voices, One Future

Cities have always been places of great social and cultural diversity. But more and more, we are finding that where people live can affect their health as well as their professional success. Building great communities ensures a more equitable society. As urban planners, designers, leaders, and innovators, we are working to change the culture and face of the planning profession so that who we are reflects those we serve. Our vision is a world in which all people are empowered with the ability to make decisions about their communities, and where all communities are fully engaged in the vital task of shaping our collective future.

Advocating for Equitable Communities

Elise Rasmussen (MUP ’18)

Elise Rasmussen (MUP ’18) knows firsthand that the community you come from can shape the opportunities you have. That is why Elise, recipient of the 2017 Professionals Council Equity Scholarship, has committed her career to building better neighborhoods for low-income and disadvantaged households.

“I spent four years as a teacher in predominately low-income communities of color. My experience showed me that students must be psychologically and physiologically healthy to fully access education. I am pursuing a concurrent Master of Urban Planning and Master of Public Health degree to study how the built environment impacts health, and namely, the role that housing plays in health disparities. The families that I served made it apparent that affordable and adequate housing is often the pathway toward gaining more social and financial stability.” Elise Rasmussen, Master of Urban Planning ‘18

Teaching the Change We Seek

For us, a commitment to equity and inclusion means more than who we educate, it also means how we educate. We are meeting this commitment by expanding the voices and perspectives studied in the classroom; adding new courses focusing on the dynamics of diversity in American cities; and forming new partnerships with community leaders and university programs who believe, like us, that to serve the public means providing opportunities for all.

Our work is supported by a multi-point departmental diversity plan that sets measurable goals for the next five years and is energized by a student committee called RE:UP (Race and Equity in Urban Planning) that draws on student insight and passion to drive change forward. There is still work to be done, but we know that to change the world we have to start by changing ourselves.

Sustainable Planning as Social Justice

Sara Cubillos (MUP ’15)

For Sara Cubillos (MUP ’15), working towards a more equitable future means more than overcoming economic disparities. It also means thinking about the impacts of environmental injustice and climate change on those who will be most affected.

“If we know that race is the primary predictor of a community’s proximity to environmental hazards, we need to intentionally include communities of color when decisions are made that will affect their well-being.” Sara Cubillos, Master of Urban Planning ’15

As the Equity and Environment Program Coordinator for the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, Sara is using the training she received in the MUP program to dedicate her career to empowering the city’s most at risk communities. In the process, she is helping to make planning a force for social good. “As planners, we need to shift the way we think… We need to focus on the people who are most affected, like lower income communities and communities of color.”

Help Us Do Even More

Each year, we graduate a new generation of passionate professionals ready to contribute to the change we seek. Our students study urban planning because they believe in the need for an equitable, just future and they know that planners have the power to transform the world for the better. Help support our students by joining our commitment to equity and inclusion.

Two Ways to Help

  1. Make a gift to the Urban Design and Planning Professionals Council Equity Scholarship. This scholarship helps us recruit underrepresented minorities and support them while they’re here. As the regional gateway into the professional planning field, our goal is to support a cohort of 10 Equity Scholars per year who will go on to lead productive planning careers. With your help, we can reach this goal. A donation to this fund supports students who are committed to social justice and equity so the professional planning community is representative of the populations they serve.
    Learn more about the Urban Design and Planning Professionals Council.
  2. Make a contribution to the Urban Design and Planning Enrichment Fund. This fund supports new initiatives and curricular innovations, including those outlined in our Diversity Plan. By contributing to this fund, you help us respond to the changing needs of our world and profession while ensuring that the leading planning city in America continues to be supported by a leading planning school.


Contact Us

For more information, please call our Advancement Office at (206) 685-3751
or email