2009 Overview

Can academic research and planning practice find common ground?

The theme for this year’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Urban Design and Planning Annual Symposium will be on “Bridging Academia and Practice in Planning Research”, specifically, the interconnections between practice and academic research in urban planning. Research in urban planning is quite distinct not only in its breadth and linkages with multiple disciplines, but also with its implicit and explicit connections to the practice of planning. However, while these connections are an important part of the field, it can be a challenge to “bridge the gap” and bring current academic knowledge to bear on applied planning problems. Conversely, planning practice can be the source of both knowledge and directions of inquiry for researchers in academia. This begs the question: where are the successes and the failures in communication between academia and practice in the field of planning?

This symposium will work to address these themes in a unique format that not only provides students with the opportunity to hear from authorities on both sides of this divide, but also allows them to participate themselves with their own research. It will be composed of two distinct sections, which will be scheduled for the late morning / early afternoon. In the morning session, four panelists will discuss the theme of bridging theory and practice in planning. These panelists include John Landis, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, Hilda Blanco, Professor Emeritus of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, and John Carruthers, Economist at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The afternoon session will consist of presentations of student research. During the lunch break, a poster session will be held where students’ work will be on display, and the symposium attendees will be encouraged to circulate throughout the room and talk with the students about their research topics. In the afternoon session, a selection of students will present a short 10- to 15-minute presentation about their research, which will include a section on how this work could be applied to inform or improve current methods of planning. Students in both the Interdisciplinary Urban Design and Planning and the Built Environment Ph.D. programs have been strongly encouraged to participate.  Copies of these presentations and other related materials will be made available at the students’ discretion on this website after the symposium.