Food system planning is an emerging and cutting edge field within planning that is commanding greater national attention every year. The Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia offers several courses on food system planning. Tanya Denckla Cobb and Timothy Beatley launched this area of study in Spring 2006 with a graduate course that is also open to upper level undergraduates.
The courses offered are Planning Applications Courses (PLAC), in which students take on semester-long team projects that apply planning skills to real community issues in the greater Charlottesville region or elsewhere in Virginia. Students are required to incorporate community engagement into their projects, learning from community members to inform and shape their project findings and community-based recommendations. Student projects are very demanding, requiring self-discipline, creativity, ingenuity, team-work and perseverance.