Topic outline

  • Publications in planning theory

    Planning theory is—as already the name tells us—a research field that studies planning of the built environment, from urban design to spatial planning and urban and regional development. It is not so easy, however, to define what 'studying' means in this context. Planning is a practical discipline, trying to make our built environment a better place or at least safeguard its values. However, planning theory is not simply a theory planning practitioners to follow (like medicine), resulting in a particular kind of environment. Often planners do follow—at least tacitly—one or another theory, such as rational or communicative planning theory. However, planning as a practice is a complex process, and theorists cannot offer any simple recipes for practitioners to adopt. In fact we may divide planning theory into four main types, depending on whether they study the object or the process of planning, and whether they are mainly describing this object or process or considering normative issues, i.e. criticising existing planning practices or suggesting alternatives.

    In this course, we shall give an introduction to planning theory as a research field and some of its main schools of thought. More importantly, however, we shall reflect and discuss some of the most frequently addresses general themes in the literature: the role of knowledge and rationality, the relationship between power and citizen participation, the differences between blueprints and strategic planning, the meaning of culture and art, the meanings of place and space, and the role of humanism and post-humanism.

    We shall study in weekly seminars of three hours in the Wednesday mornings throughout the 3rd period (13.1.-24.2.) in zoom. After a short introduction to the weekly topic by the teachers, each student will present, with a couple of slides, an article or book chapter they have read before the seminar, followed by discussion. These presentations are also submitted to MyCourses. Additionally, students will choose a planning case and analyse it with the concepts learned during the course. These will be presented in the last week (24th February). After the seminars, students will write an academic essay on a chosen subject in planning theory.