Penn State Extension land-use webinar to focus on geodesign

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Using geodesign to involve all stakeholders in land-use planning will be the subject of a web-based seminar to be offered by Penn State Extension

Presenting the 75-minute webinar at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 20, will be Kelleann Foster, director of the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Penn State; David Goldberg, assistant professor of landscape architecture; and Jesse Suders, community and economic development planner with Tetra Tech Civil Engineering in Pasadena, California.

The webinar will be held via Zoom, meaning viewers can tune in from anywhere.

Land-use planning needs to embrace the latest technologies and tools, as well as how to grasp all the data available about places — without being overwhelmed, according to Foster. New changes in geospatial tools and technologies enable a shift from data overload toward data sensibility. 

Geodesign is a planning process that joins creative problem-solving with geospatial data in a collaborative approach.

“The geodesign process is a little more intensive than traditional land-planning practices,” Foster said. “However, the ability to truncate the usual planning timeline, plus geodesign’s track record of success, far exceeds concerns about transitioning to this contemporary land-use-planning process.”

The key to geodesign’s success is a unique framework that structures the process to embrace the latest in GIS, visualization and social science, Goldberg noted. He pointed out that the geodesign framework is effective at a variety of scales and for a range of critical planning topics, from urban infill or infrastructure siting to environmental conservation.  

“The framework gives priority to local stakeholders and community input, recognizing the importance of human capital,” Goldberg said. “Stakeholders react well to data transparency and being able to see — in real time mapping and ‘dashboards’ — consequences of various land-use choices. Geodesign works to guide stakeholders to a consensus vision for the future through the process of collaboration and negotiation that is enlivened by geospatial technologies that visualize scenario alternatives in real time.”

The webinar is intended to assist planning officials and community leaders in understanding how their skills and expertise are a perfect fit for playing a key role in geodesign teams. The presentation will help them realize the efficiencies and effectiveness of deploying dynamic technologies during the geodesign process and offer them insights via a real-world geodesign case study.

“Geodesign: Using Data Transparency and Community Voices for Enhanced Land-use Planning” is the second webinar in the Penn State Extension Winter/Spring 2019 Land-use Webinar series that runs through May 15. The series informs municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers and community organizations about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include the following:

  • Jan. 16, “Zoning Ethics.”
  • March 20, “Municipal Options for Meeting MS4 Compliance Without Breaking the Budget.”
  • April 17, “Making the Most of Historical and Heritage Assets: How a Preservation-based Design Ethic Can Promote Economic and Community Vitality.”
  • May 15, “The Benefits and Challenges of Ride-sharing on the Transportation System.”

All these programs will be recorded and available for future viewing.

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification-maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $65.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or To register for the webinars, visit the website.

Originally published on the Penn State News website.