Planning Education

Part of the AESOP mission – and encapsulated in the Association’s charter is - to ‘promote the development of teaching … in the field of planning’ and to ‘promote a progressive approach to planning education in schools’. While AESOP has had long standing activities to support these goals through a dedicated conference track, an Excellence in Teaching prize and establishing a ‘core curriculum’ and expert pool – we feel that a Thematic Group could further promote these aims and bolster AESOP’s contributions to the field. In particular, two strands of related discourses will be pursued by this group.

The first strand focusses on the promotion of discussion and dialogue of planning curricula and subject-specific pedagogical developments. There are a number of issues in planning education that warrant discussion in terms of how the field can progress. For example, how can interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary literacy amongst planning students be fostered in a systematic manner? What new topics, methods and theories should be reflected in curricula and how are these best conveyed in the planning curriculum. For example, how can disaster prepared and resilience, and green infrastructure planning as mean to address implications for climate change be addressed in the planning curriculum? Or how can students be supported in addressing ‘wicked/complex’ problems? This could and should also include the growing discussions around reforms in doctoral education (in general and for planning in particular).

A second, related but no less important strand of work and discussions will explore the implications (threats and opportunities) for planning education within the context of emerging discussions of new models, missions and values of/in and for higher education institutions.  Such new modes and models are amongst other things driven by changes in how universities are funded and perceptions on what students will need to gain from university education to cope with future challenges. Ideas include the challenge-driven university (e.g., Mulgan and Townsley 2016) or the engaged or ecological university (e.g., Barnett 2011; 2017). How can goals of promoting innovation and economic development be supporting classical planning values of advocacy of the disadvantaged and so forth? Can signature pedagogical approaches used for teaching and learning in planning (such as the workshop/studio) be scaled up to institutional level and what are the implications for planning departments?

2019 - 2020 Plans


On behalf of Artur R. Pires and myself – as coordinators for the TG Planning education – a huge thank you for the keen interest and enthusiasm in regards to the Planning Education Thematic Group.

We had two short lunchtime meetings during the 2019 AESOP congress (9-13 July) which were filled with wonderfully lively dialogue and discussion. It was fantastic to feel the energy amongst the group members attending.

Over the next year we want to progress the ideas muted at the meetings.

The main one was to develop an AESOP Planning Educators Workshop. Conceptually, this is would be mirroring other Association activities such as the PhD workshop (AESOP) or the Writing Workshop for new scholars (ACSP, our sister association in North America). If this is successful – it would be then the goal to have this develop into a regular, annual activity of AESOP in the long term as a means to increase the profile of planning education/pedagogy in and for spatial planning. This workshop would hit all three aspects that Artur and I proposed as high level aims of the TG as well as suggestions of participants regarding publishing our work, building community (and doing research/projects together with funding).

Initial ideas are:

+ 2-day workshop that consists of a mix of theoretical inputs and practical activities

+ select a theme or two to keep the event focused (e.g. transformational pedagogies; community interaction/involvement; digital; internationalization; co-learning; becoming/being?)

+ organized in a location that is fairly easy to get to.

+ interested individuals apply for places with a Limited number of participants so that there is time and space to engage in deeper conversations.

+ apply of TG funding and other sources to make the workshop free (i.e. catering/materials/facilitator) (with travel and accommodation to be paid by participants)

It would be great to get a few volunteers and establish a working/task group to develop the Workshop idea in the next 2 months.

If you are interested – please email Artur and me (arp@ua.pt and aifrank2016@gmail.com ) no later than 31 July to let us know and we can start a dialogue and arrange perhaps a skype meeting to develop the details to a level at which we can apply for funding.

Finally, in the spirit of disseminating what is going on in terms of pedagogical research and sharing resources – please do let us know of future events, activities or publications in respect to planning education that we can share amongst our blossoming community of practice.  We will work with the AESOP executive to see how we can find a suitable means to make this martial available via the website/social media. We do hope also you post your news via the AESOP news pages (if your institution is an AESOP member you can register and submit news about events via the AESOP website).

Kind regards and looking forward to working with all of you

Andrea and Artur

Coordinated by: Dr Andrea Frank

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