UrbanPlan brings ULI members into the classroom as volunteer mentors and advisers for students as they put together a development proposal for an imaginary site that is financially feasible, balances private interests with public benefits, and builds consensus among stakeholders. UrbanPlan volunteers also play the role of a mock city council that hears proposals from student teams and provides them with feedback.
“It’s nothing you can get right out of a textbook,” says Michael Sheehan, principal of American School of Warsaw. “This is nontraditional learning, but it’s the best kind of learning because it puts [students] in the very role that they maybe will take on later in life.”
UrbanPlan workshops were offered at several schools in Germany, and plans are to expand the program in the FY 2018.
Indeed, one of the goals of UrbanPlan in Europe has been to introduce students from a wider range of backgrounds to careers in real estate development and urban planning. Interacting with practicing professionals gives students a real-world sense of what a career in urban development entails. Similarly, ULI members and volunteers have a chance to hear from those who will be leading and developing European cities in the coming decades.
“Sometimes we get too stuck in our own way of thinking,” says UrbanPlan volunteer Nicklas Lindberg, chief executive officer of Echo Investment, one of Warsaw’s largest real estate developers. “For me as CEO and the management team around me, we need to get the influence of these young students coming out today. We can call this a little of ‘reversed mentoring,’ where we’re learning from the young people what will be the future of our business.”
Learn more about the UrbanPlan program in the Americas and UrbanPlan in the United Kingdom.
Watch a video about UrbanPlan in Poland.