Flip Chart Notes for Group No. 3
Sessions 1, 2 and 3
Fundamental challenges/trends influencing planning education and practice
1. Implications of world-wide trends for Canadian planning education
The group discussed some of the worldwide trends which planning education
and practice will have to face. These trends included:
- Challenges regarding water, such as access to potable and reliable
water. This will prove to be one of the major problems facing society.
- Waste: solid, chemical, biological, nuclear waste.
- Ecological breakdown, as a world-wide issue to be dealt with by planning
- Regional hegemony of the US.
Implications on planning education and practice following from these
- The interplay of work and life: how, or ways in which, work and life
is organized will impact planning (i.e., both educational and practice).
- Institutional development in planning will have implications on new
identities (e.g., cultural, regional) and exclusion of identities (e.g.,
Nunuvut) which involves the systematic exclusion by government and communities.
- Global trade agreements will impact both the local and regional community
(e.g., the pending agreement on soft wood lumber) as well as create economic
- Immigration and mass migration will impact local communities.
- Immigration in large cities may lead to high multi-cultural conflict
which means the need for new tools for planners
- Planning programs need to include learning about the global environment
(such as the trends discussed). Learning should occur first hand, by going
to visit some of the key countries affected by the worldwide trends. This
will create a social and cultural experience for the student (and as a
- Such major issues as the Kyoto Protocol need to be better understood
by students (for e.g., in terms of how the protocol can actually be implemented
and how to get buy in at the local to national levels).
- Information accessibility will be an on-going issue. The internet can
exclude the public as not everyone is computer literate or has access to
a computer. I.T. affects where, how we will work as planners and this should
be borne in mind in planning education.
- A better understanding of water issues is required. For example, selling
water as a commodity (i.e., the question of whether water is public or
private) is something planners still don't clearly understand. Bring such
debates into planning school.
- Understanding the effects of multi-national corporations for planning
(At what level? This was not probed. Would it be understanding MNC effects
at the local, regional, national, global level?)
- Planners often 'nibble at the edges'. How can planning begin to have
an impact at the higher "ministerial" levels versus its usual,
lower level impacts?
- Need to expand planning knowledge so it is both interesting and useful
to people and students.
- Knowledge is often "out there" but not well integrated into
2. Knowledge and skills required to deal with the challenges to Canadian
Students need to understand substantive areas of knowledge and not just
the technical aspects.
It is important to understand the normative nature of planning and be
able to apply it critically to institutional design and conflict resolution.
The goal should be to build a stronger ethical dimension to planning.
Greater understanding of sustainable economic development (SED) is required.
- For instance, there is the growing problem of local communities relying
on their one resource and then watching it become devastated. Communities
need to understand how to look at resource use for the longer term; this
in turn depends on the use of the environment in a sustainable way. Planners
need to know how to help local communities use their environments sustainably;
but, in turn, planners need to understand the realities of SED.
- Greater learning is required for SED from First Nations communities,
who have always practiced sustainable ways of living.
Students need more courses on "security" issues
Students need a "bullshit detector" to dispel the myths and
have informed understanding of the issues they will be faced with (e.g.,
being told that crime rates are decreasing when in fact, they are increasing)
Students should be taught more about disaster management in planning
school. Need to broaden disaster management education to include climate
Students should be taught about the implications of "city-states";
a question which arose was: how do various levels of government affect city
states (e.g., senior levels of government and local governments)?
- For e.g., an implication of "city states" which students
should learn about includes a major change in the traditional welfare state
of Canada. This change will mean less rights, less access to services (e.g.,
child care centres). Essentially city states undermine the welfare state.
Everyone talks about how effecting change occurs in a political process,
yet very few students are connected to politics (in planning schools) and
don't understand the political realities they will be faced with when they
get out of planning school. Planning students need to understand political
processes at all levels.
Planning roles that will become more salient into the next decade
1. Shared values underpinning the roles that could be identified/promulgated
as 'what the profession stands for'
Shared values include:
- Liberal democratic values: we have a concern for a decent human environment.
These values should include equity, fairness, justice and respect (and
awareness) for cultural diversity.
- Values can be driven by what we're taught. Values are thus, contingent,
contextual and diverse.
- Note that there is a distinction between an advocate and an agent of
- The planner as facilitator instead of controller.
- Social inclusion should be an added role.
- Being able to learn from the past and adapt to change
- Putting forward community interests: planners can be representatives
of those interests
- Being flexible: planners need to recognize and deal with trade-offs.
- Learning by doing, which mixes planning practice and theory.
- Methodology: understanding there are different ways of knowing, and
respecting the different kinds of knowledges
- Having a concern and care for the biophysical environment; an ethical
commitment to stewardship.
Some challenges were raised:
- It may be wishful thinking that we can train people to take on roles.
There are also challenges on implementing the shared values.
- Are fairness and equity values a part of our regulations, policies
- Planning needs to ensure that high level values are included as part
of the process; in the chaos and pressures of daily practice.
- There are a wide diversity of values underpinning our judgements. Our
decisions can be competitive.
- How can you make change within the regulated environment? The community
should be allowed to decide on their own what their regulations/by-laws
should be that will guide/govern them.
- Planning education should inform students how values impact and shape
the community. (e.g., by-law changes, broad statements in the Community
Charter are affected by values).
2. What substantive knowledges and what process skills (political and
communicative) are fundamental to these emerging roles and are we teaching
Students need a greater understanding of:
- Interpersonal and negotiation skills (e.g., with First Nations land
use planning and land claims issues);
- "Site-sense": that is, a need to understand the appropriateness
of development on a particular site/area, of the land use capabilities
of a site, as well as the infrastructure realities of a site (e.g., Hillside);
- Vulnerabilities: understanding vulnerabilities from various perspectives
which includes those from individuals at the community level;
- Conflict: in terms of its creation resolution, and theoretical basis;
- Diversity of knowledge-base: as students of planning, understanding
the diverse range of knowledges will help in facilitating the issues arising
- The variant forms of diversity and cultures, including the consequences
and implications of these diversities and cultures.
- In relation to empowerment, students need to understand:
- How to empower a community in a multistakeholder context;
- Processes of and substance (basis of) exclusion and empowerment;
- Implications/consequences of empowerment.
- Financial accounting, which includes learning about finance, budgeting,
sources of funding;
- Human resources management.
- Their own personalities which affects their work. This learning
includes learning about self awareness, social skills which impacts working
with others (staff, colleagues, contractors).
- Urban land economics: e.g., planners often interact with engineers,
architects, politicians, developers, etc. (Planning students should begin
learning about these sectors, and while in school, working with each of
these sectors, who they will be meeting in the 'planning world')
- How to be a strategist: what this includes and involves, who it affects
and how it will have an impact.
1. What do students need to know to have basic literacy in techniques
and related skills? What understanding is necessary for an initial skill
- The question was raised: Can you teach leadership skills? Is it impossible?
How can planning education identify who has the potential for leadership?
- The group suggested that students need to have skills and knowledge
- Strategic development, citizen involvement, process design, politics
and developing communications strategies;
- Finding and bringing together existing but disparate information;
- Quantitative research; skills and understanding of how to do rigorous
qualitative work (e.g., how to do survey design);
- The law: planning, environmental, process of law;
- Accounting: that is, to be able to read/understand a balance sheet;
- Interdisciplinarity: students should understand the concepts, and be
skilled, in the various types of disciplines that relate to their work
as future planners (e.g., a basic understanding of disciplines).
- Site planning: that is, to learn of a site's real life uses; e.g.,
through building typologies, slope analyses.
- Students need opportunities to learn and practice negotiation and facilitation
Approaches to planning education
1. How can greater involvement of practitioners be facilitated?
- Two challenges were raised regarding the need "to be aware that
volunteers can cost time and money"
- Practitioners are inundated with their own lives, yet they have quality
and practical knowledge to teach.
- Insufficient funding is an obstacle for planning education institutions.
- To get around these challenges:
- use a mentoring program;
- formalize internships/cooperative opportunities. These take a fair
bit of work because they are voluntary; but once the system is in place,
the process is easier in the future.
- Integrate student projects/thesis into real life work experiences.
- Note that teaching provides variety to a practitioner's own work experience.
- People who come from abroad to learn about planning can benefit from
practitioners who have and can teach real life stories.
- Need to keep guest teachers in class on track.
- Include students as speakers.
- The schools need:
- More use of practitioners in projects (studio critics).
- More 1-credit courses offered at more convenient times (e.g., courses
such as modular courses, directed studies, use toast-master model) and
offer course in evenings.
2. What needs to be done to ladder career-long learning opportunities?
- Link students to real life learning opportunities in the planning world;
these links can be ladder-like, web-like, and spiral.
- Create a culture of knowledge creation with greater emphasis on periodic
upgrading and renewal for planners (planners as students for life). Make
it desirable for planners to want to continue upgrading/learning.
- Hard for schools to know what to deliver in practice so design short-courses
jointly with practitioners and academics (60% input by pracitioners/40%
input by academics. This creates value-added.
- Differentiate what a generalist should know and what the specialist
- Quality virtual courses should be added to the program.