Omnibus: Becoming a Good Sustainability Planning Practitioner

20th September 2010

Session 2: 3.30 - 5.00

Introduction to Reflective Practice


In the second half of today's class we will discuss the importance of reflection in becoming a good sustainability planning practitioner, review your progress in getting started with Google Sites through creating a preliminary posting, and discuss basic facilitation skills. Note the questions we will explore in the agenda below as you do the preparatory reading.

The chapter from Lang and Taylor is focused on the importance of reflection in moving as a mediator from being a novice, to an apprentice, to a practitioner, and ultimately to being an artist. However, you can substitute the word "planner" for "mediator" throughout the chapter and it is almost totally relevant to your developmental interests. You will read how Lang and Taylor's ideas are based on Donald Schon's seminal books: Educating the Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action (1983), and The Reflective Practitioner (1987). Even though Schon is regarded as a major influence on planning theory and practice, I don't know of any writing by him or anyone else as accessible as Lang and Taylor's presentation. The article by Manns in the Supplementary Readings demonstrates how ideas on reflection are being built into the curriculum for planning education in the UK. Many of her suggestions have been part of SCARP's curriculum for some time. In the second part of this session we will discuss how your work on the Individual Assignment can be a means for beginning to develop your habit of reflection.

By now, from what you have read and ways we have been working in the class, you will have begun to appreciate the importance of productive group work and the facilitation of it in planning practice. Read the paper on Basic Facilitation Skills to begin developing your ideas on how to strengthen your approaches and the techniques you employ. In the last part of the session we will talk about your experiences to date with the good, the bad and the ugly in group work and explore the implications of the reading for how you can proceed better in the future.


September 27: The UBC Sustainability Initiative: Our Campus As A Living Lab



Lang, M.D. and Taylor, A. 2000. The Making of a Mediator: Developing Artistry in Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (pp. i-22) Omnibus Materials

Basic Facilitation Skills. 2002. Published by Human Leadership and Development Division of The American Society of Quality; The Association for Quality and Participation; and The International Association of Facilitators.

Supplementary Readings

Manns. S. 2003. Developing the Reflective Practitioner Through Work Experience: a small-scale investigation into the benefits of integrating a range of workplace experience into a full-time professional postgraduate town planning course, Journal of Further and Higher Education 27.1 (pp. 77-88) Omnibus Materials


  1. From novice to apprentice to practitioner to artistry as a sustainability planning practitioner. Pair up with the person next to you to explain to each other an example of when you have experienced artistry. Then discuss your initial thoughts on how you will use the Individual Assignment to explore and shape your ideas for moving towards artistry as quickly as possible. Identify questions that you would like to raise and discuss. After 20 minutes we will collate your questions into an agenda for plenary discussion.
  2. Follow-up: After class, use the discussion to begin elaborating on your ideas for the pages of your Individual Assignment. Note the key points that have registered with you and the questions that you need to think more about. At the end of their article (p.21) Lang and Taylor suggest a useful reflective exercise based on recalling a previous success that you might have experienced in practice. Although they refer to mediation practice, you could productively apply their series of questions to any previous experience of practice. This might be something to incorporate into your Individual Assignment. Likewise take a look at the questions that Gardner poses on the last page of his book (p. 335) and reflect on how they might stimulate your thinking for the Assignment.
  3. What have been your experiences with group work and facilitation? What has been your experience with the good, the bad and the ugly?