Let me start by introducing myself as an undergraduate geography major with intentions of pursuing a MUP. Although I lack significant experience in the planning field, I have an internship with a local municipality and have been doing extensive amounts of reading and research on planning-related topics and the profession itself. Much of this lately has come in the form of lurking these forums.
As many of you are aware, there has been some disheartening talk about the bleak future of planning as a profession. Many are scrambling for jobs and warning students to head in other directions. Some even say urban planning is dead. Apparently, planning does not recieve the amount of respect as other, more technical and "essential" proffesions do. It is evident that in times of economic turmoil like these, the planner's role is minimized and ignored.
After reading an intriguing article by Thomas Campanella about planning's history, where it stands now, and it's future, I agree that planning education and the profession itself need to see some reform. But how can the planner's role become more crucial in today's society, when engineers and architects' technical skills prevail?
I believe that it needs to begin with educating the general public about what planners do. It seems as though many people are either unaware of a planner's role or just overlook it. We need to educate others about how important and critical planning can be in modern society. Once the general public and employers see planning through a new lense, maybe the profession can embark on an uphill journey.
What do you think needs to be done to improve the outlook of the urban planning profession? What can we do ourselves to try to improve this situation? As a future planner (just maybe, now), I want to ensure a positive career for myself and earn the respect I deserve.