Wisconsin School of Business Plans Housing Affordability, Sustainability Track

The University of Wisconsin Madison's School of Business will debut the graduate-level housing affordability and sustainability track in fall 2024.
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Published on November 1, 2023
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  • A new real estate track for graduate students at the Wisconsin School of Business will focus on housing affordability and sustainability.
  • The track will feature real-world learning opportunities, Mark Eppli, director of the school's James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate, told BestColleges.
  • Graduates of the track will be able to pursue community development and policy jobs.
  • The new track will debut in fall 2024.

Housing affordability and sustainability are hot topics in real estate — and graduate students at the Wisconsin School of Business will soon be able to specialize in those key fields.

The business school's Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics will debut a 12-credit track focused on sustainable development and affordable housing for graduate students in fall 2024, the University of Wisconsin Madison's School of Business has announced.

Mark Eppli, director of the school's James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate, told BestColleges that the program will benefit both students' careers and communities as a whole. Like the university's current real estate programs, the affordability and sustainability track will feature a host of hands-on learning opportunities.

Eppli said the new program will speak to the core of a university's mission by both preparing students to thrive in a key field and also benefiting communities at large, and it will feature co-curricular activities that include real-world experiences.

It is incumbent on us to prepare students that are ready to work and engage and be a value added to those communities once they leave this program, Eppli said. We will give them a whole range of co-curricular opportunities so they can do just that.

The new program will marry up the narrow, specialized skills around working with community affordable housing organizations with the broader curriculum of commercial real estate that the school already offers, Eppli said.

These tracks are really focused on what we believe the industry needs with some specialized skills, Eppli said.

The business school's private equity real estate courses already include real-world impacts, with students investing millions in actual assets with alumni and visiting development sites across the country. Eppli said the new track will hone in on working with community development organizations and prepare students for opportunities in the public and private sector alike.

The new track comes amid a nationwide demand for affordable housing.

Eppli noted that demand for affordable housing is on the rise as the number of households has surged in recent years. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University in a report earlier this year found nearly unprecedented levels of household growth as younger adults move into their own houses and apartments amid wage growth.

That surge in households has strained the housing supply, and Eppli said that strain has led to an increased focus on affordable housing and sustainable development as community and governmental organizations scramble to create affordable options for residents.

Some of the program's courses will have a soft launch this fall for current students, according to a press release from the school. Curriculum for the new track is still being finalized, according to the release, but will likely cover how housing markets fail to provide affordable housing solutions on their own and the consequences of historic discrimination and exclusionary zoning.

The affordability problem extends pretty broadly at this point; it's become a middle-class problem in many cities as well, Christopher Timmins, the Gary J. Gorman Affordable Housing professor at the Wisconsin School of Business and the future leader of the track, said in the release. But there are a lot of places where race intersects with income that make affordable housing even more of an issue.

Real estate has been a key area of study amid a nationwide demand for housing. Drexel University earlier this year announced it had received a $10 million gift to set up a new real estate institute to serve as a hub of research, teaching and outreach. University officials underscored equitable development in announcing the new institute.