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Thread: How would you classify urban planning as an academic major?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    How would you classify urban planning as an academic major?

    I remember when I was applying for Grad School in Planning considered doing a double Masters in Environmental Science. When I was telling the admin at the ES department how I could use some courses for both programs, she was like, "Urban Planning is nothing like us. We're more like Engineering."

    To me, it seems Urban Planning is neither science, humanities, or truly a professional school. It kind of floats in between classifications academically.

    So, how would you classify Urban Planning?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jobaba View post
    ......So, how would you classify Urban Planning?
    Social Sciences.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Social Sciences.
    What RJ said

    Transportation planning and modeling classes attracted a few engineering students.
    The content contrarian

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    What RJ said

    Transportation planning and modeling classes attracted a few engineering students.
    Yup. Only a subset of urban planners have decent hard science backgrounds. A masters in 'environmental studies' will help with a masters in planning, though, as the profession needs some more hard sciences.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jobaba View post
    science, humanities, or truly a professional school.
    We're a profession. Most urban planning schools around the country sit within schools of architecture and planning. A few sit within public policy programs. It cannot possibly be a discipline of the sciences (including the social science) or the the humanities, since it uses none of their methods or theoretical basis or practices and procedures. As for specificity, we are far more "specific" than some professional fields of study.. like students of business, public administration, human resources or public policy and the like. We are about as specific as architecture (I should know.. I'm both). We're less specific than most forms of engineering (well, except for IEOR types.. we're more specific than those, of course).

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    We're a profession. ...It cannot possibly be a discipline of the sciences (including the social science) or the the humanities, since it uses none of their methods or theoretical basis or practices and procedures.
    Careful. You are asserting the hypotheses are not testable and results are not reproducible elsewhere. Planners who waste spend their taxpayer money going to CNU will be very upset at learning this.

    Planning is both an art and a science. There are a few reproducible things out of the social sciences and demographics, and informed by statistics that work across the planet, all with theoretical bases, best practices, standard procedures.

    Kind of like movie-making. We just saw Silver Linings Playbook today, and I saw Cooper, DeNiro and Russell on Charlie Rose before which made me want to see it, because I could see what went into it. How they went about it was some art, some science, etc, like planning. A good movie has a formula and good people can use the formula to make another movie work.

    Just like placemaking - sometimes it doesn't work for whatever reason, usually greed or ego and/or incompetence. But that doesn't mean there isn't an empirical basis for the process or outcome.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Social Sciences.
    I'll agree on this too. and probably a bit of management.

  8. #8
    The broadest categories of higher education are: Arts, Sciences, and Professional. Not all degrees or academic programs can be neatly categorized. Planning, for instance, would be a blend of Science (social science mostly, maybe some physical), Professional (application based), and a little bit of Art. Depending on what is emphasized in the program, it may be more of one of those things than another.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    We're a profession. Most urban planning schools around the country sit within schools of architecture and planning. A few sit within public policy programs. It cannot possibly be a discipline of the sciences (including the social science) or the the humanities, since it uses none of their methods or theoretical basis or practices and procedures. As for specificity, we are far more "specific" than some professional fields of study.. like students of business, public administration, human resources or public policy and the like. We are about as specific as architecture (I should know.. I'm both). We're less specific than most forms of engineering (well, except for IEOR types.. we're more specific than those, of course).
    I was going to say the opposite actually.

    That planning is so multidisciplinary and the curriculum consists of so many classes from such a broad field of subjects, it's hard to classify it as a professional degree.

    If I was going to group it with anything it might be an MBA. That degree also draws from a broad group of classes.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    The stuff that I do is social science. The stuff the guy down the hall does is geography/anthropology, and the stuff the girl down the hall the other direction does is architecture. It depends on what you're working on, but a lot of planners can't be put in the same room as an engineer without first removing all the shart objects. There are irreconcilable differences there.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    The stuff that I do is social science. The stuff the guy down the hall does is geography/anthropology, and the stuff the girl down the hall the other direction does is architecture. It depends on what you're working on, but a lot of planners can't be put in the same room as an engineer without first removing all the shart objects. There are irreconcilable differences there.


    Haha. Can you explain that joke? I have heard that one before.

    I would like to hear it because I am both.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    a lot of planners can't be put in the same room as an engineer without first removing all the shart objects. There are irreconcilable differences there.
    That's right. And having a previous career that dealt with programmers and engineers, that goes both ways. Few things are as annoying/entertaining/vertigo-inducing as an injuneer with illusory superiority in a room with planners.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    That's right. And having a previous career that dealt with programmers and engineers, that goes both ways. Few things are as annoying/entertaining/vertigo-inducing as an injuneer with illusory superiority in a room with planners.
    In the world of planning, planners are more often in a position of project management than engineers. At least that's been my experience. Engineers do very specific things. Planners are usually the ones to bring all components of a project together and make it happen.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Social Sciences.
    I agree. Planning is a social science and I wish that I'd earned a minor in Socialology in college. I think that would have made of lot of the stuff I have had to deal with in my career easier to deal with.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

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