American Planning Association (APA)

Definition of "American Planning Association (APA)"

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The American Planning Association, also known as APA, is a nonprofit professional organization representing the US’s urban planning field. The APA provides extensive educational resources and opportunities for professional development through services offered to its members. One of the main focuses of APA is to perform research and advocate on various issues regarding the relationship between urban and regional planning and governance. The American Planning Association is also involved in lobbying in the government sector.

How was the American Planning Association Formed?

The American Planning Association was established in 1978 due to the merger of two entities: the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials. However, the association’s history goes even further back to the First National Conference on City Planning in 1909 that took place in Washington D.C. 

The group of planning consultants responsible for that conference created the American Institute of Planners, first known as the American City Planning Institute, in 1917. They brought their professionalism and academic perspective to the merger.

The American Society of Planning officials was formed in 1934 with about 700 members who worked on city planning commissions or had other leadership roles. They brought their broader, national perspective to the merger.

What does the American Planning Association do?

The extensive group of individuals working together in the American Planning Association use their resources and expertise to provide leadership for the development of vital communities. They advocate for excellence in the planning stages of community development while promoting the citizens’ education and empowerment by giving them the tools and support they need to overcome the struggles of growth and change.

Through their network, they created a platform where people working in urban planning can exchange ideas to improve their profession. With over 40,000 members across 90 countries and 47 chapters in the US that developed 22 divisions on planning, they monitor improvement efforts across the country like improvements or construction of residential developments, parks, roads, and highways.

For more information about the American Planning Association’s work, the association publishes the Journal of the American Planning Association, a quarterly publication for planning professionals.

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