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Thread: Is a masters in urban planning any good?

  1. #1

    Is a masters in urban planning any good?

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    In response to: Is a Master's in Urban Planning good? posted by Douglas Reed on October 30, 1999 at 16:14:40:

    You are unprepared for the real world because most planning schools still teach planning, but most local governments no longer do any. We have abdicated that responsbility to the private sector. Government planners now spend most of their time responding to project proposals, which is where those engineering and architectural skill really come in handy. Of course, most localities still have something they call a "Comprehensive Plan," but it applies mostly to the little guys. It is quickly amended when a large and profitable project is put forward.

    What do we do about this? Wish I knew.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas

    Is a Master's in Urban Planning good?

    In response to: Is a Master's in Urban Planning good? posted by Douglas Reed on October 30, 1999 at 16:14:40:

    : I got my Master's of Urban Planning recently. While I think my particular program is good at preparing you for the long-term, the short-term it is not. Do academics and planners not communicate? I learned all about housing, community development, economic development, and comprehensive planning. However, all the jobs and skills needed out there are in Current (Land Use) Planning. Also, it seems like one must have a background in Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, and Civil Engineering to understand the complexities of analyzing site plans. I always thought the planning profession was best when standards were kept high, but simplified -- instead of having 50 pages devoted to landscape regulations. The academics and the professionals need to communicate, because my planning programs don't prepare you for landscape architecture or urban design -- which is what the planning profession is being turned into.
    I don't know my ash from an aspen, but I can review a landscaping plan based on our four pages of standards.

    Maybe you are looking for jobs in some over-regulated places where people have nothing better to do than count tree limbs. But you are right about planning schools. I heard and had the same arguments 20 years ago.

  3. #3
    Feb 2002
    BC, Canada

    Is a Master's in Urban Planning good?

    I am one of those landscape architects masqerading as a planner and have been for years. I just finished writting my MCIP exams so I have thought about this alot recently. Do you know what makes LA s good planners? We understand process. We are trained for years in the design process and the integration of complex parameters. We have a better understanding of how to get from A to B in a nonlinear world of ever changing issues. I am dissappointed by the planners I meet who do not understand process and how altering process alters the plan or how to adjust the process when the unexpected happens.

    I believe that planners are craftsmen. You can't just take a course and be a planner. Its a good start though. The academics can provide the tools but it may take years to accumulate the understanding of the subtle nuances of when and how to use them. Leonardo da Vinci didn't just pick up a paintbrush and do the Mona Lisa. He studied the craft of painting from the age of 8. That is why LA's make good planners. We are trained for years to understand "process" as it relates to the tangible world around us. We understand that part of the craft better than most. Given how often I hear planners complain about how unprepared they are, maybe teaching the use of "process" is what the academic world of planning needs to pay more attention to.

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