Urban planning is the set of processes by which communities shape their environments to meet their needs and to realize their aspirations for the future. Urban planning is also the profession of those who facilitate this process. Questions of effectiveness, acceptability, access, equity, ‘sustainability’, and spatial justice are central to urban planning, and while the practice of planning is as old as the cities themselves, the profession of urban planning is only about a century old. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, architects, landscape architects, engineers, government reformers, lawyers, public health specialists, and others joined forces to tackle the serious social and environmental problems of the industrial city. They created new techniques and institutions to improve living conditions and decision-making processes, with an eye to improving cities in terms of health, safety, efficiency, equity, beauty, identity, etc.
Today, people who enter the profession come from diverse backgrounds as well, including the design professions, engineering and applied sciences, environmental and social studies, and other fields. Their chief task is to reinvent tools, procedures, and processes to meet new challenges in making metropolitan areas socially, economically, and environmentally resilient and just. A key feature of planning education is learning to view issues in a multidisciplinary way, to manage processes of collaboration and of conflict, and to generate equitable and efficient solutions to complex problems of growth and development.