L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Plan off! 2015

Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs news and events
Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs news and events

Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Time: 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Location: University Student Commons
Contact: John Accordino at jaccordino@vcu.edu or (804) 827-0525

Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School will host the fourth annual “VCU Plan-Off!!,” a unique twist on May Madness on Wednesday, May 6.

As part of the annual tournament—an event co-sponsored by the Wilder School and the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA)—graduate students in the school’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program will compete against one another by pitching their solution to a real-world planning, public policy or management problem before a panel of judges.

The tournament will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the University Student Commons located at 907 Floyd Avenue.

“The Plan-Off was really born out of a larger VCU approach to planning. That approach has always been to guide, not lecture students and to get them involved in real-world projects that will help them develop into consultants who can put theory into practice,” said Planning Instructor Jim Smither.

Smither leads “URSP 762: Professional Planning,” the capstone course upon which tournament pitches are based.

Under the rules of the competition, each student will be given just five minutes to pitch a concept before a panel comprised of representatives from the media, government, planning departments and organizations outside of the jurisdictions of the students’ plans.

Pitches represent a condensed version of a semester-long project developed by each student for an actual client. Students are paired with a client agency which must have the authority to implement the plan and mentored by two faculty members for 14 weeks. The goal of the course is to produce a compelling and technically competent plan that will aid participants in the transition from pupil to professional.

“The Plan-Off is a fitting capstone to our practitioner-oriented planning program. By requiring students to boil down the results of months of work into five-minute presentations, the competition forces them to prioritize and state what is really essential and important about their ideas. It also trains them to speak effectively to decision makers who want to understand the big picture and the relevance of actions to policies,” said Smither.

Students will present plans addressing a variety of current community challenges and opportunities, including affordable housing, historic preservation, social equity, urban bike and city trails, water reclamation and tactical urbanism.