A city with digital icons.

Planning in an Era of Disruptive Change

The 21st century is a time of accelerating, disruptive change with profound implications for local communities. Unlock the planning foresight needed to navigate a rapidly changing social, economic, technological, and environmental world.

  • Preview Course PREVIEW

Course Info

  • Duration 7 video lessons (47 Mins)
  • Published Published
  • Trending Trending
  • 4.29
Play Video

Preview Course Preview Course

Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 3 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    The Challenge: Disruptive Change
    Chapter Duration 3 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Pandemic Impacts
    Chapter Duration 6 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Drivers of Change Framework
    Chapter Duration 6 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Emerging Best Practices
    Chapter Duration 12 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Strategic Planning Process
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Conclusion: Operationalizing a Future-Focus
    Chapter Duration 6 mins

What You Will Learn

  • Understand the historical context for accelerating 21st century change Characterize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on emerging issues and trends.
  • Learn about a comprehensive, integrated framework for understanding drivers of change and their implications for local communities.
  • Learn about a strategic planning model designed to help communities deal with the uncertainty of future change.
  • Explore examples of best practices being deployed by communities to deal with drivers of change.
  • Understand how local governments and other organizations can operationalize a future focus.

Course Description

As demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 21st century is a time of accelerating, disruptive change with profound implications for local communities. The pandemic played out against a backdrop of long-term trends such as climate change, technological innovation, shifting demographics, and socioeconomic inequality. In this era of increasing uncertainty, a key question for planners is: how can we help communities deal with the disruptive effects of change? This course presents a framework and approach to help communities, governmental agencies, and other organizations understand and address the many drivers of change that are impacting them today or may impact them in the future.

Drivers of change are divided into four broad, interconnected categories: social, technological, economic, and environmental. Effectively preparing for and responding to change requires addressing these drivers in an integrated, proactive way rather than the piecemeal, reactive one that is the norm. It also requires incorporating foresight—the ability to anticipate what will likely happen or be needed in the future—into planning, operations, and decision-making. The course begins with the historic context for 21st century change and the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in accelerating the rate and magnifying the impact of drivers of change. It then provides an overview of the drivers of change framework, trends and impacts of selected drivers, and implications for local communities.

A strategic planning methodology is presented that can be used to identify and address the drivers of change that are most important to a community. Examples of community innovations in dealing with disruptive change are provided. The course concludes by synthesizing materials from previous sections into guidance on how local governments and other organizations can institutionalize a future focus (strategic foresight) into planning, implementation, and operations.

Learn these skills

  • Economic Development
  • Land Use
  • Sustainability
  • Technology
  • Urban Design
  • Urbanism


This course is approved for .75 AICP CM credit.

Meet Your Instructor

David Rouse

David Rouse

David is a consultant, educator, and author with over 40 years of experience in urban and regional planning and design.

Meet Instructor

Join thousands of urban planners on Planetizen Courses

Excellent case studies.
- Todd B.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review

Master Urban Planning Skills With A Planetizen Courses Subscription.

Try Free Courses

High quality video lessons developed by experts.


Complete course work to receive a certificate from Planetizen.


Test your comprehension with course quizzes.


Access reading lists, articles, and other materials prepared by instructors.