In-Depth Training

Whatever your interests, wherever you are in your career, you'll find your niche at APA's 2014 National Planning Conference. Go for in-depth training and connect with others who share your passion in a series of learning experiences that could have been designed just for you.



Daylong Forums

Training Workshops and Deep Dive Sessions



Tracks are made up of related sessions on a topic. Take any or all of the sessions that go to the heart of your concerns.

Best Practices for Core Planning Functions

Comprehensive plans. Capital improvement programs. Land-use controls. Impact analyses. Planners need to think comprehensively about how these four core functions come together to build stronger communities. This track presents research, surveys, and case studies of exemplary practice. What you learn will help you use every dollar wisely and plan for effective outcomes — essential issues for planning today.

Clean Water, Sufficient Water, and Dangerous Water

The Southeast is challenged by fluctuating water supply, increasing demand, and loss of freshwater sources. In some areas, sea-level rise presents an entirely different challenge as ecosystems change with the increase in salt water. Planning plays an important role in planning for and managing water. Explore issues including the economic impacts facing communities in this region and others like it.

Federal Planning and the Impact on Communities

Federal planning has a wide-ranging impact on communities. How is the federal government helping to shape communities and address critical problems? How is encroachment being addressed? How do federal entities and communities cooperate on issues like environmental and sustainability planning? Explore these topics and more with federal planners and those who work with federal entities.

Intelligent Cities

Right now much of the discussion about smart cities and intelligent cities is taking place outside of the realm of planning. But how will these concepts affect planners in the future? How will communities make decisions in the emerging era of Big Data? What is the role of planning and planners? Speakers tackle the big issues of Big Data, Open Data, and Open Government in planning.

Immigration and Changing American Communities

Cities large and small are seeing more clusters of immigrants. Planners in smaller jurisdictions may have less experience and resources to address the changing demographics of their communities. This track will address issues of economics, housing and community development, acculturation, and collaborative planning at or across borders. The track will include sessions developed by the APA Divisions Council.

Law, Economics, and Urban Form

Delve into how taxes, insurance regulations, transportation investment, utility investment, and other laws skew development incentives. Do these financial instruments support good planning or create forces that move in another direction? Speakers also will examine lending guidelines — both market-based and those with other goals in mind.

Local Investment, Alternate Funding, and Privatization

Some communities are turning to alternate ways of funding or executing planning projects. One online program invites people to donate either time or money to implement a greenway. Fundrise, a crowdsourcing platform, lets developers sell "shares" of their projects rather than relying on traditional sources to raise capital. And some municipalities are privatizing city services. Explore these examples and more in a track that's sure to raise some interest.

Planning Large-Scale Development and Redevelopment

Dig into a large-scale development planning in the United States and elsewhere. What are these developments and redevelopments (called regeneration in Europe)? How are they funded? Who initiates the project, and what role does planning play? How have these developments fared over time, for example, how are rail lands redeveloped as needs change? Hear from speakers from both the planning and development professions.

Small Town Identity on the Urban Fringe

When the population spikes and traffic accelerates, many small towns and rural areas struggle to maintain their local economy and sense of place. Local schools and services also can be overwhelmed by urban fringe growth. Examine how planning addresses these challenges. Look at communities that have successfully maintained their character, others that have chosen to redevelop, and the lessons they offer planners at the urban fringe.

Transportation Programs, Financing, and Standards

As transportation continues to change, so does planning. The types of the projects, the funding, and the standards are evolving. Get an update on MAP-21, as well as state, regional, and local funding sources. Will a new generation of transportation users result in fundamental changes in mobility in America? Expert speakers map out the answers.

Urban Design and the Public Realm

Streets and sidewalks, parks and plazas, right-of-ways and greenways. Urban design has the potential to make the public realm a better place. Examine public participation in the design process, landscape design for public buildings, and land reclaimed for public amenities. See how tactical urbanism uses small-scale, even temporary projects to enliven public spaces that couldn't support conventional redevelopment. Discover fresh ideas with big potential.

What's Next in Development Innovations?

Private-sector developers discuss current trends and how they're shaping communities. What types of  developments are being built today? What changes are occurring in urban design, housing, and financing? How does the private sector do good planning and how does it view development over the next five years? Learn what's happening in the Southeast and look at larger trends across the United States.

Local Host Committee Track

The Atlanta Local Host Committee track focuses on local and regional planning initiatives and programs.

More Special Opportunities

Five days, so many choices. Take a minute to learn about your options.

Go-to Glossary

Capstone Presentation

Student planners share their work to show how the new generation is moving the profession forward. 2-hour blocks of 7-minute presentations

Career Reality

Veteran planners tell students and emerging professionals what it's like to work in government, private, and nonprofit settings. 2 hours

New! Clinic

Experienced planners give emerging professionals advice on dealing with challenging issues. 2 hours and 45 minutes

Daylong Forum

Daylong Forums showcase new ideas on overarching themes in a linked set of sessions. 8 hours

New! Deep Dive Session

Deep Dives delve into emerging areas of planning, with hands-on exercises and interaction. 2 hours and 45 minutes

Facilitated Discussion

Participants explore topics of shared interest together in informal, interactive discussions. 75 minutes

Fast, Funny, and Passionate Session

Planners and colleagues give quick and quirky presentations on planning issues and projects. 75-minute blocks of 7-minute sessions


Institutes are leadership development programs for new planning directors, planning managers, and emerging professionals. 8 hours with a working lunch

Mobile Workshop

Mobile workshops offer a firsthand look at planning projects in and around the host city. 2 to 8 hours

Orientation Tour

Led by local planners, the tour helps participants get their bearings in the city's geography and history. 4 hours


Plenaries frame the discussion for major conference topics. 75 minutes

Resume Clinic

Attendees at any career stages can have a resume reviewed by a seasoned planner or HR professional. 20-minute meetings


Conference sessions cover the trends, tools, and best practices the leading edge of planning. 75 minutes


A symposium is a conference-within-a-conference that explores a topic over a period of days.


Tracks are made up of related sessions on a topic; participants can take any or all of the sessions.

Training Workshop

Leading experts help planners and colleagues hone practical skills and build a toolkit of resources. 4 hours or 8 hours


Sustaining Places Symposium

April 26-30

Is planning the best hope for a sustainable future? Probe the challenges and the promise in this two-day symposium, ending on Tuesday. See how planning supports the three pillars of sustainability: environment, social equity, and economic well-being. Look at fresh ways of balancing goals, engaging communities, and measuring outcomes. And learn how you can give sustainability strong, deep roots in your community.

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Bettman Symposium

April 27-29

Mount Laurel. Mount Holly. Recent ruling have thrown a question mark around affordable housing. Get a read on decisions in New Jersey and deliberations by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Planning Healthy Communities Symposium

April 27-30

Is your community built for active living? Does fresh food have a place at the table? Does the social fabric support every stage of life? Planners and public health professionals share ideas in a three-day conference-within-a-conference. Join in and learn how to make your community a healthier place to live.

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Daylong Forums

Research Day
Research That Matters

April 27

Academics and planning practice meet up at APA's Research Day. Come to a full-dayforum that brings together fresh findings from some of leading minds in the field. Presentations highlight recent articles, books, and published studies with immediate application to planning practice. What you learn in one day will have a huge impact on what you do tomorrow.

On the schedule:

  • Climate-Action Plans: Promises and Pitfalls. Learn about the tradeoffs that come with mitigation planning and the potential benefits from transportation and land-use interventions.
  • Planning Atlanta Book Presentation. Get an overview of lessons from Atlanta's planning history as seen in the upcoming release from APA Planners Press.
  • Preparing Communities for an Aging Population. Examine a groundbreaking report by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies on housing and community readiness for older Americans.
  • Foreclosures, Distress, and Neighborhood Response. How did the foreclosure crisis affect major American cities? See the ripple effects in Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Boston, and Baltimore.

Learn more

Transportation Day
Building Economic Growth through Transportation

April 28

Transportation has always been key to a competitive local economy. Today's communities face the challenge of making smart transportation investments within austere budget constraints. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence points to the economic benefits of transit, biking, and walkability.

This year's Transportation Day will explore the link between innovative transportation planning and local economic growth. Sessions will examine new approaches to project finance, strategic land use and regulatory decisions, successful approaches to transit-oriented development, and more. You'll learn which economic metrics drive transportation decisions and find out what tax and budget policies are leading to stronger local economic performance.

Also on the radar:

  • Ensuring that communities are "TOD ready"
  • Measuring the economics of biking and walking
  • Making the economic case for transportation and infrastructure
  • Using value capture and joint development to fund new investments
  • Linking transportation decisions to local and regional economic development

Learn more

Law Day
A New Look at Takings

April 28

In ways big and small, takings law is on the move — and adapting to meet new challenges. Come to this full-day forum and examine some of the questions bubbling up in takings. You'll update your understanding of recent developments and expand your knowledge of one of the most important legal issues in planning.

On the docket:

  • How are takings principles being applied to water rights?
  • How can we responsibly manage shoreline development within Lucas guidelines?
  • What is the impact of the Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District decision?
  • Where is the line between unfair burden to property owners and unfair impacts of land use?

Learn more

Neighborhood Day
Planning Neighborhoods of Lasting Value

April 29

What is a neighborhood? Is a neighborhood primarily a contiguous subarea of a particular jurisdiction, or is it primarily a socially constructed idea about place-based community? Neighborhoods have both physical and social characteristics, and neighborhood health and value depend on a variety of factors beyond land use and urban design. In this forum, planners, urban designers, and community development practitioners will explore the neighborhood as a planning unit and highlight tools and techniques for creating and sustaining place-based communities.

On the agenda:

  • Neighborhood identity. Who defines neighborhood boundaries? Are neighborhoods interlocking or overlapping? What are the characteristics and functions of different types of neighborhoods?
  • Resilient neighborhoods. How do healthy neighborhoods accommodate social, economic, and physical change over time? What are the keys to planning for and adapting to neighborhood transitions?
  • Complete neighborhoods. What are the essential ingredients of a complete neighborhood? What tools and techniques are planners using to create and sustain neighborhoods that fulfill the needs of diverse populations?
  • Neighborhood partnerships. What institutions and organizations are critical partners in successful neighborhood planning initiatives? How can planners engage these key stakeholders in neighborhood planning processes?

Learn more

Training Workshops and Deep Dive Sessions

The conference features full- and half-day training workshops as well as Deep Dive sessions lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes. All provide practical skill development for planners and officials.

Training Workshops incorporate lectures, hands-on experience, extensive interaction, and useful resources for participants.

Deep Dive sessions are interactive and provide more intensive education than a typical session.

Training Workshops and Deep Dive sessions are conducted in rooms set with round tables to encourage interactivity. You'll hone practical skills and build a toolkit of resources.


Each year APA's National Planning Conference offers leadership development programs for:

New Planning Directors

Planning Managers

Emerging Professionals