Participation in Planning and Development: Theory and Practice

This course will meet for the first time in Portico 123 on Friday, September 2nd.
This seminar examines the theory and practice of participatory planning and governance, drawing on both developing and developed world experience. Recognizing that participation plays a major role in planning and design practice, the course seeks to provide students with a solid intellectual and professional foundation for work on participation-related issues. The seminar begins by looking at the history of participation and at different rationales for including the public in planning, design and policy making. Like the seminar more broadly, this investigation will examine participation in both urban planning and international development contexts. The bulk of the seminar then focuses on how participation plays out on the ground, examining the merits and challenges of public engagement in a wide variety of political, social and geographical settings. Major topics will include an investigation of the ways in which participation influences project outcomes. They will also include an examination of the nature and scale of spillovers from participation to other aspects of social and political life (for example, looking at the influence of participation on democratization, economic development and community empowerment). The seminar will explore the varieties of participation encountered in planning and development, from grassroots activism to mobilization by global movements. The seminar will also discuss the rise of civil society and debates surrounding this concept. Finally, the course will examine innovations in participatory planning and governance, with an eye towards novel modes of working with and including the public in planning, design and policy making. Particular attention will be given to the role of new technologies, institutional innovations and artistic practice in facilitating and shaping participation. The course will be run as a graduate seminar, with students expected to discuss weekly readings and engage in informed and critical class discussions. The seminar will be joined by practitioners working on participation issues.