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Da Vinci was believed to have said, “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” The objective of this course is, therefore, to equip students with the concepts and arguments that might take them somewhere in planning practice. Or at the very least, know where we are when we get there. In this course, we are not really concerned with what constitutes a theory or a body of knowledge, but how the accepted body of knowledge can be brought to bear on planning questions–and how planning questions can advance those bodies of knowledge. To this end, we will consider classic readings from multiple fields, such as philosophy, political science, sociology, economics, and others.

Despite the denigration of theory in favor of practice in the planning profession, the adopted theoretical lens is singularly important, if insidious. We will cover a large number of theories and apply them to situations that planners face. We will examine the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of these theories along with the distortions they project onto the world.

Target Audience

  • Core course for Ph.D. students in City & Regional Planning
  • Advanced graduate students in Sociology, Landscape Architecture, Economics, Management Science, and Political Theory

Topics Covered (Incomplete list)

  • Theories: Explanations & Justifications
  • Nature of Evidence
  • Theory of Planning/ Theory in Planning
  • Property Rights
  • Power
  • Political Theory
  • Theory of Communicative Action
  • Urban Institutions
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Modernity/Post-modernity