The Promise and Pitfalls of Contemporary Planning

CRP 2000

An Introduction to ‘wicked problems’ in planning

CRP 2000 Promise and Pitfalls of Contemporary Planning is a core course within the Urban and Regional Studies curriculum at Cornell University. Dr. Jennifer Minner teaches this course, but the vast majority of the posts on this blog are from students in the Urban and Regional Studies Program.

City and regional planning seeks not only to comprehend cities and regions, but to steward built and natural systems and to address the needs of diverse communities. Planning is interdisciplinary, drawing from the social sciences, public policy, economics, the natural sciences, the humanities, real estate and development, among other sources of knowledge and expertise to address wicked problems.[1] Planners model future scenarios and examine alternatives; regulate, incentivize and otherwise manage land development; inform the public and decision makers; partner with multiple public and private actors; and in many other ways assist in charting future courses of action. Planners operate in the context of economic and social change, conflict, and considerable hazards of uncertainty. The legacy of planning is complicated and consists of both mixed success and failures.

This course provides a critical and pragmatic path through the past, present, and future trajectories of contemporary planning practice and theory. It offers discussion of predictable and emerging tensions and opportunities in a field that is dynamic. Planning must continually respond to forces of urban change, to new paradigms and planning theories, and to shifts in expectations for professional practice. We will survey planning processes, the role of planning in relation to multiple publics and decision-makers; and the ways in which planners, politicians, citizens, and other actors seek to manage and participate in shaping the future of communities.

Note: Image banner credit on front page “Snow storm in New York” by Alex_NY_Brook on Flickr.

[1] Rittel and Webber (1973).


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