Keeping the flame alive: how planners try to retain their idealism
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People become planners for a variety of reasons. Many enter the profession via an undergraduate or postgraduate degree program at a university and at this point many express broadly idealistic aspirations to make built environments better places than they would otherwise be. Most planning education programs share these aspirations and seek to nurture them, while also equipping students with a range of practical and analytic skills and competencies. However, many graduating students that then enter the profession struggle initially to reconcile their idealistic values with the day to day realities of professional life. Drawing on data from an ongoing research project that entails working with practising planners in South East Queensland, Australia, this paper explores how planners go about retaining their idealism. It describes in particular how planners explain their initial motivations for becoming planners, how their education prepared them for professional life and how they manage the often conflicting pressures they experience in their day to day work. The paper draws on Sch殧s notion of the reflective practitioner (1983) and his subsequent work on how they might be educated (1987). It draws also on Healey and Underwood's (1978) work on professional ideals and planning practice and on Underwood's (1980) ethnographic study of planners in London. The paper concludes by reflecting on the perennial tensions in planning education and pedagogy around the inculcation of specific values and the acquisition of particular skills, and in striking a balance between the ambition to 'make no little plans' and the need to develop and demonstrate more prosaic workplace competencies.
World Planning Schools Congress 2011: Planning in an era of uncertainty and transformation
Copyright 2011 ANZAPS. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified