About us

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.




The Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (IURS) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was founed in 1969 and began accepting students in 1970. The IURS began as a collabaration between the Department of Geography and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, in order to develop a graduate program in urban studies and planning, and to advance the research in this field at the Hebrew University.

The late Prof. Arie Shachar, the forefather of urban geography in Israel, initiated the establishment of the IURS, headed it until 1994 and remained an prominant in the IURS until his passing in 2006. Among the sociologists who were involved in the institute’s onset were Prof. Arik Cohen, who penned the institute’s first piblication (The City in the Zionist Ideology, 1970), and Prof. Dov Weintraub.

The IURS offered a modest program in its early years, but by the 1980s and 1990s it evolved to be one of the two leading programs in urban studies and urban planning in Israel. The graduate program was expanded and the student body grew four-fold in the early 1990s, influenced by the global rise of the urban planning profession and its progress into a more interdisciplinary and social studies oriented field. The rising demand for urban planners, as a result of the massive immigration to Israel from the former USSR and the subsequent construction momentum, also contributed to this change. Prof. Shlomo Hasson, Prof. Daniel Felsenstein and Prof. Eran Razin led the IURS in those years, along with Prof. Arie Shachar.

In the second decade of the new millennium, the IURS has expanded further, the program was upgraded and the number of students increased. Starting in 2016/17, the IURS offers a graduate degree in Geography and Urban and Regional Planning, in addition to specializations in urban and regional planning / studies. The growing interest in urban studies and in the planning profession have also been linked to the prolonged housing crisis and the 2011 social protest, as well as to recent reforms in the planning and construction law.

In addition to teaching, the IURS was involved from its inception in research, publication of policy research and holding various events. The first publication came out in 1970. Floersheimer Studies, a framework for policy research on society, space and governance, was integrated into the Institute in 2007. It is a succession of Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies, which operated independently between 1991 and 2007, generously supported by Dr. Stephen H. Floersheimer, and directed since 2007 by Prof. Eran Razin.

In 2014, the Urban Clinic was founded within the IURS, initiated and directed by Dr. Emily Silverman, as an applied-academic body meant to create, mediate and implement knowledge in cooperation with professionals in the field in order to promote social justice through planning. Activity of the Clinic includes academic courses, joint projects, various events and international and local research.



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