Environmental Planning track

Cross-disciplinary with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Global environmental problems like human-induced climate change challenge local strategies to manage natural resources, protect sensitive species’ habitats, and ensure the long-term health of ecosystems. With over fifty percent of the world’s population now living in urban areas and consuming most of the earth’s resources, the way we plan, design and regulate our cities exacerbates local conditions. At the same time, urban areas are also important locations for solutions. Environmental planners adopt solutions-oriented approaches to address environmental problems, such as supporting local food production, building disaster risk reduction, deploying clean sources of energy, conserving biodiversity and natural habitats, managing urban waste, adapting to sea-level rise and preserving freshwater resources. Planning as a discipline has a long tradition in problem solving across different scales from neighborhoods to entire regions with extensive community involvement.

Hawaiʻi is an ideal location to tackle issues of environmental sustainability.  The archipelago faces special challenges associated with its island setting, fragile ecosystems, limited space and natural resources. Hawaiʻi and its people are fortunate to have a wide range of renewable energies and a rich history in land use management, rooted in historical and cultural practice. Hawaiʻi is also uniquely positioned within the Asia-­Pacific region serving as a bridge between the East and the West to build collaborative networks for innovative environmental solutions. 

The Environmental Planning track in the Global Environmental Science program will engage undergraduate students to grasp, engage with, and develop solutions to regional environmental problems by focusing their academic studies on environmental planning and policy-­making. In this track, students will gain foundational knowledge necessary to understand the planning profession while concurrently learning tools, planning approaches and policies that aim to preserve the environment. They will also learn about collaborative and community-­based interventions. Graduates will be uniquely positioned for careers as environmental planners, specialists, and consultants employed by government agencies or private firms required to review planning permits, develop master plans, prepare environmental impact studies, or develop mitigation strategies to minimize development impacts. Students will also be well prepared to continue graduate studies in urban and regional planning. 

This track requires the following four Coupled Systems courses; each course is three credits.

  • PLAN 310 Introduction to Planning
  • PLAN 414 Building Community Resilience
  • PLAN 473 GIS for Community Planning
  • PLAN 620 Environmental Policies and Programs


Students interested in the Environmental Planning track should seek advising from GES and/or the Track Coordinator, Dr. Priyam Das (DURP faculty).