The peoples of the old world have their cities built for times gone by, when railroads and gunpowder were unknown. We can have cities for the new age that has come, adopted to its better conditions of use and ornament. We want, therefore, a city planning profession...
- Horace Bushnell, City Plans (1894).
Developed countries have reached stages from which their approaches to planning and implementation of planning activities are more efficiently organized than those of underdeveloped countries. Even then developed countries have to constantly strive to maintain the level of development and deliver services and facilities to make livable areas. To achieve such levels of development in the underdeveloped countries gigantic proportion of efforts would be required. And in this case, relevant experts like planners, can achieve this feat.
From ancient times, even from the Neolithic period, human civilization felt the need of organizing the built and natural environment and practiced planning to some extent. This endeavor gradually developed into an organized discipline which today is not merely limited to land use design and sectoral sub-division plans. Modern civilization revolves around large metropolitans and productive rural regions where new and modern framework for capacity development, institutional reforms and public- privet partnership is of utmost necessity. This necessity has given the urban and regional planning a new, integrated and global dimension where the need for a better management system is at the focus. It has become a synonym for constant development whether for an already developed nation or at least developed one. As a result, the role of a Planner in building and development of a nation has earned precedence to any other profession globally.
But the need of planning and planners in a developing country like Bangladesh has gigantic significance rather than a developed country. This requisite for planners for the sustainable development of this region has been felt prior to the liberation of Bangladesh which has been further accentuated with the emergence of Bangladesh as a politically independent state. The country is currently striving to bring about rapid economic progress. Increasing urbanization, degrading environmental qualities, severe transportation problem, inequalities between groups of people and regions and ever increasing poverty even after several decades of existence as an independent state has made the government realize that there should be a shift in emphasis from previous planning process to a more down to earth approach. It is thus expected that governmental and non-governmental organizations will be more deeply involved in planning, administering and implementing projects aimed at overall physical, social and economic development in future. This means that the country would be confronted with need for a large number of planners who will serve communities to enhance their quality of life, work to promote equity and equality through fostering disadvantaged section of population and maintain a controlled and guided growth. The Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, undertook the responsibility of producing skilled and people oriented planners to face these challenges.
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning was established in 1962 under the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, with a Master's Degree in URP. The academic session, however, began with the return of three trained teachers from abroad with eight graduate students in 1968. The first batch of seven planners graduated in 1972. With a short gap between 1973 and 1976, the department kept on educating graduate planners without interruption and produced a total of 136 planners till 1996. With the growing requirements of Governmental and Non-Governmental organizations as well as Universities and research institutes, the Bachelor's (BURP) and Ph.D. programs have been introduced in 1996.
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning at BUET is primarily concerned with the human settlement development planning at the urban, rural, regional and local levels. The activities of the Department focuses on physical, social, environmental, economic and political aspects of human settlements and specializes on the subjects like Urban Planning, Rural Planning, Regional Planning, Transportation Planning, Housing, Environmental Planning, Development Planning, etc. It also focuses on physical environment to a broader sense with more explicit concern for social and economic policies, employment generation, poverty alleviation, income distribution, resource development, political and institutional aspects of development, etc. In brief, the overall activities of the Department are planned to meet the demand for skilled manpower in human settlements planning, development management and other related professional fields by providing a set of widely applicable training and experience and their application to urban, rural and regional problems.
The expertise of the faculties and benefits of the infrastructure and facilities are utilized to solve problems and to provide up-to-date technological knowledge to various organizations of the country. In addition to its own research programs, the Department undertakes research programs sponsored by various government and non-government organizations. The Department is persistent in its efforts to improve its research facilities to meet the growing technological challenges confronting the country. Currently the department has 141 undergraduate students.