Friday, May 6, 2011
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is generally considered to have one of the country's better planning schools. That's why its especially interesting to read Prof. Thomas Campanella's reflections on the state of his profession and its academy (including a reconsideration of Jane Jacobs' critiques):
Planning students today need a more robust suite of skills and expertise than we are currently providing — and than may even be possible in the framework of the two-year graduate curriculum.  Planners today need not a close-up lens or a wide-angle lens but a wide-angle zoom lens. They need to be able to see the big picture as well as the parts close up; and even if not trained to design the parts themselves, they need to know how all those parts fit together. They need, as Jerold Kayden has put it, to "understand, analyze, and influence the variety of forces — social, economic, cultural, legal, political, ecological, technological, aesthetic, and so forth — shaping the built environment."  This means that in addition to being taught courses in economics and law and governance, students should be trained to be keen observers of the urban landscapes about them, to be able to decipher the riddles of architectural style and substance, to have a working knowledge of the historical development of places and patterns on the land.
Read the entire essay, here--it's very thought-provoking.