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Planning is usually conflated with collective action, collective choice, communication, centralization, and coordination. It is also common to conflate planning theory with urban theory. In this course, we explore how these concepts inform planning; however, neither are necessary for plans, nor are the issues they raise ameliorated by planning. The point of the course is to provide concepts and reasoning that will help you make sense of planning practice. We will explore various normative and positive theories of plans, institutions, ethics, and governance at sufficient depth to provide grounds for understanding the nature and dilemmas of urban planning. To this end, the learning objective of the class is not to write theory papers but to apply theoretical concepts in evaluating plans, planning processes, and attendant issues. To sum up, the question we will attempt to answer in this course is, “what are good plans, planning practices and planners?” The question: “what is a good place and a good society?” is left for other courses.

Target Audience

  • Core course for MCRP students.
  • Graduate and upper level undergraduate students in sociology, political science, and economics

Topics Covered (Incomplete List)

  • Justifications for Plan Making
  • Political Institutions
  • Collective Action
  • Collective Choice
  • Rights & Regulations
  • Externalities & Market Failures
  • Common Pool Resources
  • Comprehensive Rational Model
  • Feminist Critiques
  • Race & Planning
  • Advocacy Planning
  • Participatory Planning
  • Planning Ethics
  • Communicative Planning