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The School of Planning encourages a wide range of research among faculty and students, and research clusters are continually evolving in response to new challenges and opportunities. Many faculty share research interests and collaborate on projects, always involving students — as research assistants, with work term placements, or advising on independent student projects. Some faculty members also maintain professional consulting practices in the Halifax Region.

Every spring, the School of Planning hosts a conference planned and organized by students to explore issues and innovations in planning.  For more information, please see the Annual Conference page.

Please visit the Student Research Projects page to see examples of thesis, independent project, and studio project work.

Some of the School’s current research clusters are listed below:

Coastal planning

Dalhousie is an international centre for Oceans Research. The School of Planning contributes to this profile with its coastal planning research, enhancing the capacity of government and community leaders to address coastal management challenges in an integrated way. Supported by Natural Resources Canada, National Research Council, Nova Scotia Department of Environment,  and Halifax Regional Municipality. Projects include:

  • Planning for climate change in coastal communities in Atlantic Canada

Faculty members: Frank Palermo (CEU), Patricia Manuel, Eric Rapaport

Environmental planning

With a broad range of regional agriculture, riparian and resource landscapes, Atlantic Canada provides many opportunities for environmental planning. Projects include:

  • Cultural values of urban wetlands
  • Documenting landscape architecture in Atlantic Canada
  • Climate change adaptation

Faculty members: Patricia Manuel, Eric Rapaport, John Zuck

First Nations community planning

The Cities and Environment Unit works with First Nations communities to develop and implement long‐term comprehensive community‐based plans, building awareness and understanding of community planning and building capacity through group training and hands‐on projects. Supported by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in partnership with First Nations communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario. Projects include:

  • Comprehensive community‐based planning in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario
  • Establishment of a planning network in Saskatchewan
  • Establishment of a regional collaborative strategy in Northern Ontario
  • First Nations housing pilot project

Faculty member: Frank Palermo (CEU)

Information systems and modeling in planning

The field of planning has been greatly enriched with developments in computer-aided data collection, management and visualization. This research cluster advances planning methods through the use of computational tools and methods, with support provided by Canada Foundation for Innovation and NSERC. Projects include:

  • Advanced transportation modeling, remote data capture of transportation activity, demand prediction
  • Use of GIS in decision-making and visualization
  • Health Planning

Faculty members: Ahsan Habib (DalTRAC), Eric Rapaport, Mikiko Terashima

Planning Canadian suburbs

About half of all Canadians live in the suburbs. This research cluster asks how we can reconcile the gap between the kinds of livable and sustainable places planners hope to provide and the issues that we see in the suburbs today. Projects include:

  • Global suburbanisms: development trends in the suburbs
  • Smart growth and land policy
  • Transportation demand management
  • Transportation affordability

Faculty member: Jill Grant, Ahsan Habib (DalTRAC), Ren Thomas

Planning creative cities

With the continuing urbanization of Canada, cities need to plan for change, growth, economic development and livability. Key themes include fostering innovation and creativity in city-regions and the social dynamics of economic performance. Supported by SSHRC and the Atlantic Metropolis Project. Projects include:

  • Attracting and retaining immigrant cultural sector workers in Halifax
  • Connecting recent immigrants with planning policy and urban design in Halifax Regional Municipality

Faculty members: Jill Grant, Frank Palermo (CEU), Ren Thomas

Planning and health

This research cluster explores the impact of the built environment on population health, in collaboration with the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre and colleagues in the health disciplines at Dalhousie and Acadia. Projects include:

  • Environmental diagnostics: built environment and health
  • Optimizing investment in the built environment to reduce youth obesity

Faculty members: Jill Grant, Patricia Manuel, Mikiko Terashima

Sustainable transportation planning

As the consequences of a car-centered culture are becoming ever clearer, planners are exploring ways to reduce dependence on the automobile and promote healthier and more sustainable transportation. Supported by the Ecology Action Centre, Transport 2000 Atlantic, HRM and municipalities across Atlantic Canada. Projects include:

  • Shifting towards sustainable transportation
  • Municipalities for green mobility (towns of Annapolis Royal, Lunenburg and Windsor)
  • Sustainable transportation
  • Multimodal transport systems
  • Transit-oriented design

Faculty members: Ahsan Habib (DalTRAC), Frank Palermo (CEU), Ren Thomas