Back to news & events


University of Victoria announces Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Posted 07 03 2024

in News

Professor Claire Freeman
Professor Claire Freeman
Professor Claire Freeman named programme director

The University of Victoria has just announced the launch of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning, designed for people who already have a first degree in a variety of disciplines such as design, architecture, environmental management, law, politics, or geography and want to contribute to better urban spaces and cities. It has been established as a programme to support career transition into a Planning career. The Master of Urban Planning complies with the accreditation procedures of the New Zealand Planning Institute. Provisional accreditation is expected in 2024, with full accreditation following shortly.

In the same statement, Professor Claire Freeman has been appointed as it's programme director. Professor Freeman states, “It is with great pleasure that that I get to lead the Master of Urban and Regional Planning in the heart of our capital city.

“There is a long overdue need for a planning education programme in Pōneke, and the first students will enter a dynamic and forward-thinking career that is in need of new graduates.

“Planning is about ‘making great places together’. Wellington is a fantastic place to achieve this.”

Students of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning will benefit from Professor Freeman’s research on children and young people, planning and urban biodiversity and sustainable communities.

Her current research, Negotiating Childhood Around the Pacific-Rim, asks the questions, ‘is the 21st century a good time to be a child?’ and ‘what action should governments and planners take to shape the places where children live?’ It focuses on children’s lived experiences in New Zealand, Samoa, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia, and the impacts of increasing urbanisation, rural to urban migration, and changing mobilities and technology.

In the research, Professor Freeman blends interviews with children and their families, family focus group discussions, photo essays, and childhood narrative mapping to examine changes to childhood.

“We aim to empower families and support professionals to identify ways that children’s lives have changed at family and neighbourhood levels”,

Professor Freeman summarises her career insights in an article ‘Twenty-five years of children's geographies: a planner's perspective’, published in the academic journal Children’s Geographies.

In the article, Professor Freeman recalls beginning her career researching children’s play, but gravitating to analysing transport and social trends in neighbourhoods, as well as collaborating with colleagues in education, childhood studies and most frequently zoology.

She highlights the need for future research to adopt a more mainstream global approach to childhood geographies based on inter-disciplinary integration and cross-world dialogue. News reports, including children in migrant ‘caravans’ in Central America—and recent children’s experiences in Gaza—highlight the need for more students to research these topics and for planners to respond to global events.

Professor Freeman’s up-coming book ‘Planning for the Caring City’ advocates for more care in cities.

“Clearly, for many, the current ways of planning and managing city environments are not working, given how human and non-human inhabitants struggle daily to maintain their well-being and survival.

“‘Planning for the Caring City’ discusses where care needs to be incorporated into cities, how we plan and create nurturing environments including for all who live in cities, human and non-human, and how to build sensitively, support meaningful livelihoods, and enable compassionate governance.

“I look forward to introducing these ideas in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning, so our students become changemakers and leaders in our cities and societies.”