SS 310 - Land Use Planning  

Over the semester we will explore historical and current, as well as future, land use planning in our communities with hopes of better understanding the social and ecological implications of our decisions. How have we planned for the settlement and development of our communities?  What are the successes and the failures of our planning process?  How have we addressed natural resources in the land use planning process? What is sprawl and what are the solutions to this land use practice?

Students will undertake two research projects to explore historical and current land use, and the social and ecological impacts of these practices.  Working with records in the local town hall, we will conduct a deed research to better understand the influence of historical land use practices on the current landscape.  We will look backward to uncover the original land use of property so we can better understand our land uses today.  Students will also explore current day land use planning processes in a community of their choice and will make “smart growth” recommendations for the future. 

 Land Use History and Planning Syllabus

 Spring 2013

Instructor:       Farley Anne Brown (work: 586-7711 extension 156)


Course Objectives:

  • Understand the purpose and the process of land use planning and community.
  • Gain insight on how land use decisions affect our lives and how planning is driven by our philosophies, emotions, and politics.
  • Make connections between historical land uses and current landscape and land use patterns, and fine tune our abilities to “read the landscape” for evidence of historical relationships to the land.
  • Develop skills in land use planning such as conducting a deed research.
  • Develop skills for researching legal documents and interpreting legal language of land use laws.
  • Acquire a working knowledge of land use techniques including, but not limited to, planning, zoning, transfer of development rights, planned unit development, Smart Growth, and conservation easements.
  • Understand how we all play a critical role in land use decisions and how we can get involved.


Class Format and Student Responsibilities: The course is structured as a seminar, a forum in which students discuss and apply their knowledge and skills in partnership with their peers and faculty.  This structure will provide an opportunity to exchange ideas through weekly discussions of our readings and research.  Students must prepare themselves for active discussion about the topics by reading the assigned materials for each class.  Analysis of the readings will be the responsibility of the students and everyone is expected to participate in this discussion. 



All assignments are due on the assigned date.  Late assignments will not be accepted without prior arrangement with me. I reserve the right to not grant an extension.


Grading and Evaluation:

Class Attendance and Participation                  30%

Reflection Papers                                                     20%

2 Research Projects                                                30%

Final                                                                               20%


***Readings will be handed out in class, on reserve in the library, or posted online.***


Academic Honesty:

You are expected to be familiar with Sterling’s Academic Honesty Policy, found on pages 44-45 of your student handbook.  It reads, in part, “all students are expected to exhibit honesty in completing classroom and laboratory work.”  In addition, “plagiarism will not be tolerated.”  If the concept or words you are using are “borrowed or copied from any source, whether electronic, print, recorded, or spoken word, the original source must be acknowledged.”  If you are ever unsure about when and how to cite another’s ideas or words, please ask me.


Learning Styles:

Students bring a variety of learning styles to class.  We will be using a variety of oral, written and technical skills.  If you have a learning challenges or documented disability, please check in with Leland Peterson, Sterling College’s Learning Support Coordinator.  Leland can help you determine what accommodations would be helpful for you in this course.  I can meet with you and Leland, or simply let me know what you and he decide.