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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

AFRICAAM 169A
Is water a human right or an entitlement? Who controls the water, and who should control the water, in California? Private companies? Nonprofits? Local residents? Federal, state, or local governments? This course will explore these questions in the...

McKibben, C. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM

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)
Cain, B. (PI)
Shelton, N. (PI)
Martinez, X. (TA)
Leonard, D. (TA)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
9:30 AM
10:50 AM

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...

Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

AMSTUD 169
Is water a human right or an entitlement? Who controls the water, and who should control the water, in California? Private companies? Nonprofits? Local residents? Federal, state, or local governments? This course will explore these questions in the...

McKibben, C. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM

CEE 136
Cities and urban areas have always been transformed by major external changes like pandemics and public health crises. California is both in the midst of its greatest economic recession since the Great Depression and experiencing a pandemic that has...

2023 - 2024
Winter

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 emerging, frontier technologies. Topics covered include artificial...

2023 - 2024
Autumn

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 emerging, frontier technologies. Topics covered include artificial...

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

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday
4:30 PM
5:50 PM

CEE 218Y
(Formerly GEOLSCI 118Y and 218Y) The complex urban problems affecting quality of life in the Bay Area, from housing affordability and transportation congestion to economic vitality and social justice, are already perceived by many to be intractable...

2023 - 2024
Winter

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)
Vanderweyen, L. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
6:30 PM
7:50 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)
Kam, A. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Thursday
4:30 PM
6:20 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...

Fong, D. (PI)
Nairn, I. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
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...

Saltzman, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Wednesday
1:30 PM
2:20 PM

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...

Bangert, F. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Friday
10:30 AM
11:20 AM

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...

Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

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)
Cain, B. (PI)
Shelton, N. (PI)
Martinez, X. (TA)
Leonard, D. (TA)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
9:30 AM
10:50 AM

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)
Cain, B. (PI)
Shelton, N. (PI)
Martinez, X. (TA)
Leonard, D. (TA)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
9:30 AM
10:50 AM

LAW 807G
Policy Practicum: The Santa Clara County Litigation & Policy Partnership (SCCLPP) (807G): This policy lab partners with the Office of the County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara. Students in the lab will work with the leadership and deputies of...

Anderson, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday
4:15 PM
6:15 PM

LAW 7051
This course will examine the source, scope and limits of local government power. It will consider the relationship of local governments to state and federal government and of the relationship of local governments to the individuals and communities...

Ford, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
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)
Long, M. (GP)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Thursday
2:50 PM
5:50 PM

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)
Weisler, T. (PI)

2023 - 2024
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)
Cain, B. (PI)
Shelton, N. (PI)
Martinez, X. (TA)
Leonard, D. (TA)
Freyberg, D. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
9:30 AM
10:50 AM

PUBLPOL 101
American democracy faces a series of unprecedented challenges. This course will identify the greatest areas of weakness in the American political system, make sense of the most pressing threats facing democracy, and contemplate how democracy can be...

Bonica, A. (PI)
Belo-Osagie, A. (TA)
Fikejs, E. (TA)
Flores, C. (TA)
Sturdivant, M. (TA)
Jefferson, H. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday Wednesday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM

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)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Wednesday
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)
Rosenbaum, I. (TA)
Sung, Y. (TA)

2023 - 2024
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...

Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

PUBLPOL 174
Applies the principles of economic analysis to historical and contemporary urban and regional development issues and policies. Explores themes of urban economic geography, location decision-making by firms and individuals, urban land and housing...

Wolfe, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

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...

Chen, L. (PI)
Cain, B. (PI)
Saillard, I. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
9:00 AM
10:20 AM

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)
Fanthome, E. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

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)

2023 - 2024
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)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Wednesday
4:30 PM
5:50 PM

URBANST 141
Neighborhoods in the Bay Area and around the world are undergoing a transformation known as gentrification. Middle- and upper-income people are moving into what were once low-income areas, and housing costs are on the rise. Tensions between newcomers...

Kahan, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Wednesday
3:30 PM
5:20 PM

URBANST 148
An intensive one-week hands-on introductory seminar designed to allow students to understand and interact with all aspects of the real estate investment process, including property development, local government interplay, value creation, [deal...

Thielke, C. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1:30 PM
3:20 PM

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...

Rich, D. (PI)
von Borck, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

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)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday
9:30 AM
11:20 AM

URBANST 169
Is water a human right or an entitlement? Who controls the water, and who should control the water, in California? Private companies? Nonprofits? Local residents? Federal, state, or local governments? This course will explore these questions in the...

McKibben, C. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Tuesday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM

URBANST 172A
This course integrates professional planning approaches and tools with foundational and theoretical practices of recognizing and reading landscapes and working with diverse communities. Weekly modules introduce disciplines within the Urban and...

Raya, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Friday
10:30 AM
1:20 PM

URBANST 173
Applies the principles of economic analysis to historical and contemporary urban and regional development issues and policies. Explores themes of urban economic geography, location decision-making by firms and individuals, urban land and housing...

Wolfe, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM

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)

2023 - 2024
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)

2023 - 2024
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)

2023 - 2024
Spring