SCARP's mission is to advance the transition to sustainability through excellence in integrated policy and planning research, professional education and community service. SCARP's Vision is Sustainability through the Democratization of Planning.
The School's program is shaped by five critical challenges confronting both students and practitioners of our profession.
1 • The primary challenge is to give practical meaning to the concept of ecologically sustainable social and economic development and to explore local and global paths toward achieving it. We approach this task through practiced inter-disciplinarity. The integration of our teaching, research, capacity building and practice is oriented to providing the knowledge and skills required to ensure the viability of our communities and regions in a rapidly evolving world. Adapting to global ecological change and economic rationalization requires a new generation of planners who are dedicated both to understanding the issues and acting to resolve them in a wide variety of public and private settings.
2 • Our second challenge is to bring new understanding to the interdependencies among the many variables that affect the design and planning of the built environment, the development and use of "natural capital," and the creation of wealth generally. Professional planning must better reflect both the biophysical stage upon which we mount our socioeconomic play and the lead roles performed by cultural values and aesthetics in meeting the needs of the human spirit. To meet this challenge, planners must acquire a sense of confident familiarity with diverse forms and sources of knowledge and develop the facility to use that knowledge in integrated development planning.
3 • Our third challenge is to advance society's capacity for strategic thought and action. What institutional arrangements can best assimilate our new knowledge and implement responsive policies and plans? In an era of deregulation and privatization, what new tools for governance are needed to protect the public interest and enhance the "common-pool" assets upon which we all depend? Answering such questions requires planners skilled at identifying feasible options, structuring decision processes, and identifying the inevitable trade-offs and long-term consequences inherent in all significant public policy choices.
4 • Our fourth challenge is to increase planners' effectiveness in working with diverse interests at the local level, in the communities and regions where people live and work. It is at this scale that planning most directly affects the conditions of everyday life, whether through urban design, community economic development, or natural resource enhancement. The most effective planners are a rare breed of inspired visionaries whose vision is tempered by sensitive flexibility and respect for practical reality.
5 • Our fifth challenge is to maintain professional standards in all circumstances. This requires several kinds of technical competence and personal skills: technical knowledge; analytic skills; communications ability; participatory leadership; sensitivity to others in complex organizational settings; sound professional judgement; ethical commitment, and a sense of responsibility.
We believe that facing these challenges requires life-long learning rooted in personal commitment and nourished by superior graduate education. Providing this nourishment is the role and responsibility of our School.