urban planning

Roles and Motivations of Planning Professionals Who Promote Public Participation in Urban Planning Practice: Two Case Studies from Beijing, China

March 26, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Lin Zhang, Pieter Hooimeijer, Yanliu Lin, and Stan Geertman | Public participation in urban planning is a contested issue in China. Despite the official rhetoric of a harmonious society and changes in the legal framework that formalize the involvement of citizens in planning processes, many hold that the current practice is highly symbolic and aimed at placating the population rather than at empowering it. External forcing of the current system by environmental threats, social change and technological innovation may be more pertinent than the desire to change the system from within. However, this might overlook the role of the professionals. We expect our study to contribute to the international debates on the management of urban affairs in general and on public participation in urban planning in particular by exploring these in an authoritarian context. Read More

Flipping a Small Classroom: Engaging Students in the Learning Process

June 4, 2019 // 0 Comments

Staci M. Zavattaro| I knew I was in trouble. I was teaching my new elective Public Sector Communications for the first time. I meticulously planned assignments – group work, active discussions, a comprehensive project. That first night, there were four people in the room – myself and three (eek!) master of public administration students. I went home and realized almost everything I had planned would not work. I went back the next week and asked the students for their help. I said I wanted to flip the classroom – something I had never tried before – and would do it only if they agreed and were willing to work with me along the way. We gave it a try. Read More

Shifting Agendas: Private Consultants and Public Planning Policy

June 27, 2018 // 1 Comment

Orly Linovski | Urban planning is often thought of as a public sector activity, despite the increasing role and influence of private-sector consultants. Consultants are involved in many stages of the planning process, including undertaking policy reviews; creating long-range plans and strategies; and, designing and implementing public engagement strategies. Planning consultants often straddle the private and public spheres, working for both government and private clients. This raises questions about how private-sector planners balance competing goals, as well as the democratic legitimacy and accountability of the planning processes they undertake. While consultants have been involved in planning since the early days of the profession, the reduced capacity that many municipalities currently face makes it critical to examine the impacts that outsourcing and privatization may have on planning processes. For local governments that have traditionally seen planning as a public-sector activity, these changes can undermine both the public interest and the relationship between citizens and decision-makers. Read More