The Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (IURS) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a leading graduate program in urban planning in Israel, engaged in teaching, research, and urban policy and planning endeavors. Established in 1969 by the late professor Arie Shachar, The IURS aims to train committed and proficient planning professionals, with broad knowledge of planning theories and techniques that will serve them in their work in urban planning, policy research and associated professions. It is obliged to planning that balances objectives of sustainable and equitable patterns of development with local economic growth.
Faculty members of the Institute engage extensively in international research and policy collaborations and have rich experience in comparative research of urban dynamics, planning tools and procedures, urban governance reforms and tools of local development. Within the IURS, the Urban Clinic (http://urbanclinic.huji.ac.il/?q=en) provides a framework for students, faculty, practitioners and community groups to work together on real-time urban policy and planning issues.
The IURS offers, jointly with the Department of Geography, a two-year graduate planning program that provides a comprehensive curriculum in urban planning: theory, practice and methods. It also offers a two-year MA specialization program in urban and Regional Planning that can be studied in conjunction with other disciplinary graduate programs in the Faculty of Social Sciences and other faculties, such as Law and Business Administration. The program can be taken both in the research-oriented track (which includes submitting a MA dissertation) and the non-research track.
The teaching program includes courses given by faculty members of the Hebrew University, mainly from the Department of Geography, and adjunct faculty. The latter comprise mainly practitioners holding at present or at the recent past senior positions as planners in the public and private sectors.
Growing demand for the program can be partly attributed to the rapid expansion of the job market in urban planning and associated professions. The creation of urban planning-related jobs was associated with serious pressures for urban expansion, major changes in land policy and land use planning, as well as with growing initiative and entrepreneurialism at the local government level. Moreover, growing environmental awareness, the penetration of planners into jobs previously held mainly by architects and engineers and a gradual consolidation of the urban planning profession, all contributed to sustain an increased demand for urban planners.
IURS graduates work in private and public planning-associated jobs and some proceed to doctoral studies in Israel or abroad. Graduates are involved in all realms of planning and development. At the national level they can be found in the Ministry of Finance (Planning Administration), Ministry of Interior (Local Government Administration), Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Environmental protection, State Comptroller, and Israel’s Land Authority. Some have reached senior positions, such as the Director of the Planning Administration and the Planning Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office. Other IURS graduates can be found in municipalities, including mayors, and in NGOs, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature. Increasingly, graduates are recruited by private planning and consultancy firms. GIS and transportation planning are two fields in which a substantial number of graduates have been recruited in recent years.
The IURS aims to consolidate the position of urban planning at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a leading academic program in Israel and worldwide. It also seeks to enhance the status of Israeli planning and is committed to promote sustainable and equitable patterns of development and local economic growth, preserving a reasonable balance between these often conflicting objectives. The IURS has a special commitment towards planning and developing Jerusalem, which provides a unique and fascinating laboratory for urban development processes.