The School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy will be an innovative, national leader for building academic and community collaborations that address urban challenges.


The mission of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy is to assist in identifying and implementing policies and programs enhancing the quality of life, well-being, and prosperity in metropolitan settings. Our graduates provide informed and skilled public and nonprofit sector leadership. Our research and outreach contribute to urban policy and program solutions with an emphasis on Memphis and the Midsouth. As a hub for collaboration, SUAPP creates the diverse range of resources and disciplinary perspectives necessary for effective comprehensive metropolitan action.



  • Believe in the right for all citizens to live in safe and prosperous communities.
  • Value diverse sustainable communities.
  • Hold as a priority advancing the urban condition of residents of the Memphis metro area and state of Tennessee
  • Value scholarship that learns from and informs state, national and global urban issues.
  • Respect and foster diverse views and perspectives.
  • Produce research of the highest quality and integrity.
  • Value the contributions of inter- multi- and transdisciplinary scholarship in addressing complex urban issues.
  • Deliver academic programs that will enhance student capacity to effectively and ethically serve community needs and priorities.
  • Are committed to providing high quality accredited degree programs
  • Value research that builds knowledge through theory and leads to application.
  • Serve as respectful reciprocal participants in all of our partnerships.
  • Systematically assess and hold our scholarship accountable for student success and community impacts.

Core Idea

By its location and mission, the University of Memphis is a primary source for advancing understanding and solutions to the challenges of local, national and global metropolitan areas. Locally, the Memphis metropolitan area presents issues found across all urban settings. As the area’s only research university the University of Memphis is uniquely positioned to provide education, research and outreach to address those issues.

Understanding and addressing the factors contributing to these urban challenges requires a range of expertise. The purpose of the School for Urban Affairs and Public Policy (SUAPP) is to bring together the expertise and resources required to provide the education, research and outreach necessary for the task.

Four academic departments and four research units are the core of SUAPP. The departments are City and Regional Planning, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Public and Nonprofit Administration and Social Work. The research units are the Center for Advancement of Youth Development, Center for Research on Women, Design Collaborative, and Public Safety Institute.

Urban focused education and research are central to each of the disciplines in SUAPP. These academic programs are a major source of education and professional training for leadership in the Memphis area. The four disciplines draw on theory from each to advance understanding of urban conditions. Integrated and coordinated scholarship among the all of the units forms the foundation for recommendations to address urban conditions. SUAPP’s influence and importance is a result of this connection of theory and practice in informing urban choices and leadership.

The structure of SUAPP inherently supports the synthesis of these diverse perspectives, theoretical foundations, and research approaches required to understand and address the complex challenges of metropolitan areas, while building capacity to address those challenges through education and community partnerships. SUAPP thus serves as a hub for partnerships, to foster more efficient, equitable, sustainable, safe and prosperous communities.


View the SUAPP 2000-2010 Anniversary Report

View the 2015 Anniversary Report