Courses on Local Government

Each year, Stanford University offers dozens of courses related to local government across many disciplines. Such courses have highlighted the powerful role local politics can play in creating just, equitable and sustainable cities, and have given students a new understanding of the immediate impact they can have on their communities by engaging in policymaking at the local and regional level.  Some Lane Center alumni have even gone on to pursue meaningful careers in local government. 

We are fortunate to have Dan Rich serve as the Lane Center's local government advisor, who co-teaches the popular introductory course Land Use: Planning for Sustainable Cities (URBANST 163).  With over 30 years of public sector experience, including 27 years in local government management in the Bay Area, Rich has served as the city manager of both Campbell and Mountain View, where he remained until his retirement at the end of 2019.

Explore these local government courses, and scroll down to learn more about Lane Center alumni who have launched public service careers in this space.

Explore local government courses

Land Use course instructors, clockwise from upper left: Bruce Cain, Dan Rich, Jessica von Borck, Preeti Hehmeyer

Land Use: Planning for Equitable and Sustainable Cities

Called "the bread and butter of local government" by Dan Rich, land use drives decisions about where homes and businesses should be built, the amount of open space in a neighborhood, the accessibility of public transportation and more. In the spring of 2021, the Lane Center offered a course on land use taught by a stellar team of Stanford scholars and practitioners. 

Alumni Working in Local Government

A number of Lane Center alumni have taken courses on local government and gone on to pursue careers in the field. Check out the profiles below to learn more about the academic and career paths of these Stanford graduates.

Nick Mascarello is an environmental planner with Valley Water, the government agency responsible for water supply management, flood protection and stewardship of aquatic habitats in Santa Clara County.

 

 

 

 

 Connie Huynh Fife says the connections she made at the Bill Lane Center helped guide her to a career in local government. Today she works for her hometown of Chula Vista, California.

 

 

 

 

 

 Caleb Smith is a sustainability coordinator for San Mateo County, working on affordable housing issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Headshot of BLC alumna, Makena Wong

 Makena Wong works on engineering projects for Millbrae and Burlingame, such as developing the Bay shoreline that will connect to sea level rise protection currently planned for San Francisco International Airport’s runways. She is also developing environmental policy solutions, such as helping design future zoning ordinances for cities on the Bay shoreline that incorporate sea level rise into their zoning standards.

 

Courses

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

AMSTUD 124A
The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North...

Kennedy, D. (PI)
Fishkin, S. (PI)
Slate, D. (TA)
Cain, B. (PI)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

AMSTUD 163
Through case studies with a focus on the San Francisco Bay Area, guest speakers, selective readings and interactive assignments, this survey course seeks to demystify the concept of land use for the non-city planner. This introductory course will...

Quinn, H. (TA)
Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

ARTHIST 152
The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North...

Kennedy, D. (PI)
Fishkin, S. (PI)
Slate, D. (TA)
Cain, B. (PI)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

CEE 214
The next wave of technological innovation and globalization will affect our countries, our societies, and ourselves. This interdisciplinary course provides an introduction to frontier technology, the intersection where radical forward thinking and...

Fischer, M. (PI)
Fu, E. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday
4:30 PM
5:50 PM

CEE 246B
Introduction to the Real Estate Development Process from conception, feasibility analysis, due diligence, entitlements, planning, financing, market analysis, contract negotiation, construction, marketing, asset management and disposition. Pro-forma...

Koen, N. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday Wednesday
5:30 PM
6:50 PM

CEE 248
This course will offer students an introduction to Real Estate Development. Senior Principals from Sares Regis, a regional commercial and residential real estate development company, will cover topics on all aspects of the development process. Guest...

Birdwell, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
12:00 PM
1:20 PM

CEE 265F
Adaptation to climate change will not only require new infrastructure and policies, but it will also challenge our local, state and national governments to collaborate across jurisdictional lines in ways that include many different types of private...

2022 - 2023
Spring

CSRE 156
After decades of decline, U.S. cities today are undergoing major transformations. Young professionals are flocking to cities instead of fleeing to the suburbs. Massive increases in immigration have transformed the racial and ethnic diversity of...

Hwang, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

EARTHSYS 131
Interactive, seminar-style sessions expose students to diverse career pathways in sustainability. Professionals from a variety of careers discuss their work, their career development and decision-points in their career pathways, as well as life style...

2022 - 2023
Spring

EARTHSYS 131
Interactive, seminar-style sessions expose students to diverse career pathways in sustainability. Professionals from a variety of careers discuss their work, their career development and decision-points in their career pathways, as well as life style...

Saltzman, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Wednesday
2:30 PM
3:20 PM

EARTHSYS 168
Through case studies with a focus on the San Francisco Bay Area, guest speakers, selective readings and interactive assignments, this survey course seeks to demystify the concept of land use for the non-city planner. This introductory course will...

Quinn, H. (TA)
Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

ENGLISH 124
The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North...

Kennedy, D. (PI)
Fishkin, S. (PI)
Slate, D. (TA)
Cain, B. (PI)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

HISTORY 151
The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North...

Kennedy, D. (PI)
Fishkin, S. (PI)
Slate, D. (TA)
Cain, B. (PI)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

LAW 7051
Local governments exert tremendous influence over socioeconomics, race relations, environmental health, political power, and housing and real estate. This public law course will investigate the law of these governments (including cities, counties...

Anderson, M. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Monday Wednesday
2:15 PM
3:45 PM

POLECON 531
Cities are where billions of people live and they are the engine for innovation and economic growth. They are also going through enormous change and battling with fundamental problems, like housing, transportation, urban planning, the environment...

Santosham, S. (SI)
Callander, S. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday Thursday
2:50 PM
5:50 PM

POLECON 680
This course provides an introduction to political economy with an emphasis on formal models of collective choice, public institutions, and political competition. Topics considered include voting theory, social choice, institutional equilibria, agenda...

Pola, M. (GP)
Callander, S. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Autumn

Monday Wednesday
10:00 AM
11:20 AM

POLISCI 74B
How do I translate my interests and skills into a career in public service and social impact? This course will introduce you to a wide range of roles that help shape public policy and civic life, including government, education, nonprofits, social...

Litvak, L. (PI)
Garvin, L. (PI)
Brodie, J. (PI)
Pineda Pineda, A. (TA)
Sims, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Autumn

Tuesday
4:30 PM
5:30 PM

POLISCI 124A
The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North...

Kennedy, D. (PI)
Fishkin, S. (PI)
Slate, D. (TA)
Cain, B. (PI)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

POLISCI 227B
Adaptation to climate change will not only require new infrastructure and policies, but it will also challenge our local, state and national governments to collaborate across jurisdictional lines in ways that include many different types of private...

2022 - 2023
Spring

PUBLPOL 101
This course both looks at the ways American political institutions shape policy outcomes and how Federal, state and local government have handled challenges related to increasing party polarization, climate change, heightened racial tensions and...

Bonica, A. (PI)
Tanigawa-Lau, C. (TA)
Fikejs, E. (TA)
Bethlendy, L. (TA)
Rhee, K. (TA)
Jefferson, H. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday Wednesday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

PUBLPOL 103Z
This course examines ethical and political questions that arise in doing public service work, whether volunteering, service learning, humanitarian endeavors overseas, or public service professions such as medicine and teaching. What motives do people...

Coyne, B. (PI)
Cloward, J. (TA)

2022 - 2023
Summer

PUBLPOL 116
The course contains four main parts:Climate Science, Climate Impacts, Climate Policy, Climate Advocacy. Part I begins with a detailed introduction to climate science, including an assessment of arguments by climate science skeptics, and an...

Nation, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

PUBLPOL 132
Public policymaking in the United States is part of a political process that can take years or even decades to play out. A familiarity with the politics of policymaking is key to understanding why some reform attempts are successful while others are...

Chen, L. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday
9:30 AM
11:20 AM

PUBLPOL 135
Dynamics of regional leadership and decision making in Silicon Valley, a complex region composed of 40 cities and four counties without any overarching framework for governance. Formal and informal institutions shaping outcomes in the region. Case...

Hancock, R. (PI)
Benest, F. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Thursday
4:30 PM
5:50 PM

PUBLPOL 154
State politics and policy making, including the roles of the legislature, legislative leadership, governor, special interests, campaign finance, advocacy groups, ballot initiatives, state and federal laws, media, and research organizations. Case...

Nation, J. (PI)
Crane, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
8:30 AM
10:20 AM

PUBLPOL 163
Through case studies with a focus on the San Francisco Bay Area, guest speakers, selective readings and interactive assignments, this survey course seeks to demystify the concept of land use for the non-city planner. This introductory course will...

Quinn, H. (TA)
Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

PUBLPOL 308
Policymakers in the United States, whether elected or unelected, operate in a governmental system where politics pervades nearly every element of their daily activity. This course provides students with both the theory and real-world examples they...

Cain, B. (PI)
Mullen, B. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
9:00 AM
10:20 AM

SOC 156A
After decades of decline, U.S. cities today are undergoing major transformations. Young professionals are flocking to cities instead of fleeing to the suburbs. Massive increases in immigration have transformed the racial and ethnic diversity of...

Hwang, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

SOC 256A
After decades of decline, U.S. cities today are undergoing major transformations. Young professionals are flocking to cities instead of fleeing to the suburbs. Massive increases in immigration have transformed the racial and ethnic diversity of...

Hwang, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

URBANST 108H
This course will divided into three sections that when combined provide 1) the overall narrative of the precedents and adverse impacts of the worldwide, US west coast and California housing crises and the frameworks for California to create a...

LeSar, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Wednesday
10:30 AM
1:20 PM

URBANST 110
Today, for the first time in history, a majority of people live in cities. By 2050, cities will hold two-thirds of the world's population. This transformation touches everyone, and raises critical questions. What draws people to live in cities? How...

Kahan, M. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday Wednesday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

URBANST 113
Comparative studies in neighborhood conservation, inner city regeneration, and growth policies for metropolitan regions. Lect-disc and research focusing on case studies from North America and abroad, team urban design projects. Two Saturday class...

Glanz, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
12:00 PM
2:50 PM

URBANST 126A
This course explores ethical questions that arise in public service work, as well as leadership theory and skills relevant to public service work. Through readings, discussions, in-class activities, assignments, and guest lectures, students will...

Lobo, K. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday Wednesday
3:00 PM
4:20 PM

URBANST 156A
After decades of decline, U.S. cities today are undergoing major transformations. Young professionals are flocking to cities instead of fleeing to the suburbs. Massive increases in immigration have transformed the racial and ethnic diversity of...

Hwang, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

URBANST 163
Through case studies with a focus on the San Francisco Bay Area, guest speakers, selective readings and interactive assignments, this survey course seeks to demystify the concept of land use for the non-city planner. This introductory course will...

Quinn, H. (TA)
Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

URBANST 164
Community-engaged learning course that exposes students to sustainability concepts and urban planning as a tool for determining sustainable outcomes in the Bay Area. The focus will be on land use and transportation planning to housing and employment...

Kos, R. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Monday
9:30 AM
12:20 PM

URBANST 172A
An investigation into urban planning as a democratic practice for facilitating or mitigating change in society and the built environment. We will engage in professional planning practices in focused sessions on transportation, design, housing...

2022 - 2023
Summer

URBANST 183
This new class offers an exciting variation on the 'individual project' studio format. Students work as a team to propose a single consensus solution to a real-world design challenge. This collaborative studio experience more closely reflects the...

Glanz, D. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
12:00 PM
2:50 PM

URBANST 201A
Restricted to Urban Studies majors. Students work at least 80 hours with a supervisor, establish learning goals, and create products demonstrating progress. Reflection on service and integration of internship with senior research plans. Must be...

Kahan, M. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Autumn

URBANST 201A
Restricted to Urban Studies majors. Students work at least 80 hours with a supervisor, establish learning goals, and create products demonstrating progress. Reflection on service and integration of internship with senior research plans. Must be...

Kahan, M. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Winter

URBANST 201A
Restricted to Urban Studies majors. Students work at least 80 hours with a supervisor, establish learning goals, and create products demonstrating progress. Reflection on service and integration of internship with senior research plans. Must be...

Kahan, M. (PI)

2022 - 2023
Spring