Director of Regional and City Planning Charles Warnken Discusses Program’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Student, faculty and staff safety has been a hot topic of discussion and is of the utmost importance to the University of Oklahoma and the Gibbs College of Architecture. You can learn more about Gibbs College efforts and share your own feedback here.

To help address these concerns, we recently spoke with Gibbs College program directors to find out what adjustments being made to their programs to ensure student, faculty and staff safety, while supporting learning outcomes.

Below, Director of Regional and City Planning Charles Warnken shares responses to some frequently asked questions.

Q: How are classes in your program being handled or adjusted this semester in light of COVID-19, and how does this differ from a typical semester?
A: Regional and City Planning had no online courses until this fall term. We now will offer approx. 67% of courses in a web or video conference capacity. Our undergraduate listings are planned to be in-person.

Q: Can you say how you expect this will impact student learning? What special ways will faculty in your program be working to support students?
A: I expect challenges, but have faith in our faculty and students.
Patience is a must for all and we are working to support students in a variety of ways, notably a 90-minute open web-based period where the Director is available for any and all questions.
Secondly, we are building in professional development opportunities through the use of video conferencing with professionals and academics in locations other than Norman.

Q: Students in your program work on unique projects that have different needs, work cycles, project lengths and outcomes that are unique from other programs in the college and on campus. Can you give examples of some of those projects, how they have worked in the past, and how you expect them to be adapted this semester?
A: Our community-based studio will present the biggest challenge from a learning standpoint (formal SLO’s) but the experience will certainly and necessarily be different.

Q: Are there any unique or different safety measures being taken within your program?
A: We are following OU’s policy and implementing the additional measures Gibbs College has taken for our unique student needs.

Q: Returning students are uncertain regarding how the next semester will unfold. Please share some advice or suggestions that may help students navigate this semester in your program and prepare to learn given any special changes or adjustments that are being made?
A: Prepare for a rigorous and fun graduate-level experience! Be patient, be entrepreneurial and find your social group (others to work with) for social and academic events.

Q: Parents may have concerns about these same changes and adjustments. What insights might you offer parents who are concerned about the possible negative impacts of these changes? How can you assure them that their students are getting a valuable education/experience this fall?
A: Rest assured that GCA faculty are sincere in delivering a challenging and rewarding educational experience. The GCA family, when it is all said and done, is small. We can work to provide a great experience.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with our students/prospective students and their parents as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester?
A: The faculty, students and staff that comprise the GCA community are poised to have a terrific year, even in light of public health issues and social unrest. These times present as many opportunities as challenges.
Parents should rest easy. All students are embarking on a journey that will be rewarding professionally and emotionally. The collegiate experience is more than academic, it is about personal growth and a great experience-both of which can and will be provided to students this year.