School of Planning
Location: Ralph M. Medjuck Building
5410 Spring Garden Road
Main floor
P.O. Box 15000
Halifax, NS
B3H 4R2
Telephone: (902) 494-3260
Fax: (902) 423-6672

Community Design

The Community Design program will interest students who care about the character and the future of our communities, who are committed to sustainable approaches to the environment, and who want to learn design and communication skills that will allow them to make a difference in how we build cities and alter landscapes. The Bachelor of Community Design draws on the knowledge base of the natural and social sciences, and brings that understanding together with the creative engagement and problem-based abilities of the design professions. If you believe that we need to design better living environments, preserve culturally-important and environmentally-sensitive landscapes, and help communities shape their own futures, then this program can equip you to achieve your aspirations.

Community designers study the shape, patterns, processes, and issues in human and natural communities. They see the world as a system of interconnected and embedded communities linked by cultural and natural processes. They also explore interventions to promote healthy communities and sustainable environments. The program gives students an opportunity to study human and natural communities and the interactions between them. You will learn to help communities design strategies to explore issues and select courses of action. In the honours program, you will gain practical experience in a work placement internship, and participate in community-based planning and design projects.

The study of community design at Dalhousie is distinguished by:

  • an emphasis on physical planning.
    The School recognizes the importance of visual and spatial information and understanding, and introduces design as a method of learning, analyzing, and resolving problems. Design is comprehensive, integrative, context-sensitive, and synthetic. It seeks to enhance community and environmental resilience.
  • a focus on planning practice that is reasoned, creative, and responsive.
    Courses will attract students eager to help communities make changes in the world they inhabit. They will develop knowledge and skills to allow them to analyze community issues, test policy proposals, and propose and implement appropriate courses of action to achieve desired outcomes.
  • interdisciplinary studies.
    The program is interdisciplinary, but with a sharp focus. It draws on an extensive range of expertise in environmental science, environmental studies, urban history, community analysis, and policy and management. Community design involves the application of scientific, humanistic, and creative approaches in the search for great communities.

The School of Planning offers various programs in community design: the Bachelor of Community Design (BCD) is a three year program; a Double Major in Community Design and Sustainability is a four year program. BCD students with high academic standing may apply for the Bachelor of Community Design (Honours), a four year program and a first professional degree recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

The Bachelor of Community Design is a three-year general program for students interested in understanding how communities work and the principles that planners and other design professionals use in creating communities.

Students with a strong commitment to sustainability may take the four-year Double Major in Community Design and Sustainability. Students in the four year double major have the option of doing any approved minor within Dalhousie's College of Arts and Science.

BCD students in the general BCD degree or double major (BCD/Sustainability) degree who are admitted into the Honours program take specialized fourth year courses in either of two majors: Environmental Planning or Urban Design and Planning. Students considering the BCD Honours program have the option of doing any approved minor within Dalhousie's College of Arts and Sciences. Special information for BCD students on the minor in Geography is included below.

In addition to their regular program, BCD students are eligible to take the Certificate in Geographic Information Science offered by the Faculty of Science.

Students wishing to enter the program must have completed grade 12 with a 70% or greater average in five grade 12 subjects including English, Math, and one Science (Biology or Geology are recommended). Grade 12 Geography is recommended, and a background in art or design is an asset. Students who have successfully completed a full year of university or college level studies may apply to transfer to the Bachelor of Community Design and may be considered for advanced standing. (Those admitted as transfer students should consult the Undergraduate Advisor in Planning for advice on course selection.)

All students admitted to the BCD must meet the Dalhousie requirement for a full course or equivalent in courses with a significant writing requirement, usually completed in the first year of university study. Students must complete at least six credit hours in a science subject, and six credit hours in an arts, humanities, or social sciences subject to graduate.

Students must complete at least 42 credit hours (seven full course equivalents) at the 2000 level or higher for the three year (90 credit hour) degree, or at least 72 credit hours (12 full course equivalents) at the 2000 level or above for a four year degree (120 credit hours).