SPEAKER: OK, thanks very much. Good morning once again. This 75th anniversary of graduate education in planning at Cornell University provides us with a great opportunity to take stock of the present and future needs of professional master's degree programs in city and regional planning. I will try to start a conversation which will be pursued over the course of today's sessions by providing some brief speculations on the present and future of planning education in general and at Cornell in particular.
I'll be followed by Rob Young, who will offer comments on future directions of physical planning, Katharine Rankin, who will do the same in regard to international planning, and Ken Reardon, who will prognosticate on community development planning.
First, some definitions and distinctions. Planning is most essentially the act of determining what to do, when and where, and by how much in order to bring about some intended outcome. Who engages in planning? Well, everyone from captains of industry to kings of the road looking for their next handout. According to Aristotle it is one of the definitive attributes of human beings.
Jon Elster observes that by engaging in planning, we are the only species able to step backwards in order to advance-- that is defer present consumption for investment for future well-being. If everyone engages in planning, do we plan all the time? No, because planning is a resource-consuming activity. But according to Lou Hopkins, we are likely to observe planning undertaken in situations where decisions are interdependent, irreversible, indivisible, and made with incomplete information.
These conditions are the so-called four I's of planning. Planning as a human activity is a defense mechanism, a hedge against uncertainty and imprudence. But it's also an expression of creativity and self-definition. The products of this activity, plans, can function in several different ways-- as agendas, policies, strategies, designs, and as visions, or public statements of intentions.
Hopkins argues that successful human settlements require much more than planning. In fact, some of the outcomes that people expect of plans are more likely to be accomplished by other means. In simplest terms, plans provide information about interdependent decisions. Governance makes collective choices. And regulations set rights. Understanding these distinctions will give people reasonable expectations with which to use all three to improve human settlements.
Importantly, Hopkins' definition of plans makes no reference whatsoever to government, the public sector regulations or breath of authority or control-- the very categories and terms of which planning is most frequently discussed and criticized. That is because plans are not inherently about governments, collective choice, or centralized control. Rather, these other phenomena are part of the complex system within which plans for urban development are made, and thus affect what plans accomplish and how they are made.
Well, everyone plans. Those of us assembled here this morning are perhaps most interested in planning in the public domain, or in public and private partnerships. In addition to promoting public well-being, planning in the public domain often has as an objective the management of change in territorial systems, as John Friedman puts it.
Now, managing change is not easy to do, and much can easily go awry. As Mark Twain admonished us, if you want to understand how something works-- or doesn't-- try to change it. We do not entrust the management of change to just anyone. We want planners to be properly educated in professional master's degree programs accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board and certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners, or AICP.
What kind of educational requirements do PAB-accredited programs have to meet? Ideally, such programs should impart appropriate knowledge, skill, and values-- and by these terms they mean knowledge includes the comprehension, representation, and use of ideas and information in the planning field. Skill is the use and application of knowledge to perform specific tasks required in the practice of planning, whereas values inform ethical and normative principles used to guide planning in a democratic society.
There are four specific criteria that the PAB uses to assess curricula of professional planning degree programs. I'm going to summarize some of this because if you have ever looked at the PAB criteria, it goes on for pages and pages and pages.
AUDIENCE: Read it all.
SPEAKER: How much time do you have? Firstly, the PAB says the curricula should provide an understanding of human settlement as it relates to planning based on knowledge of the relevant concepts and theories from the social sciences, the environmental sciences, the design arts, and legal studies. Secondly, the curricula should provide an understanding of-- historical and contemporary planning practice. Policy and processes based on knowledge of the relevant concepts and theories pertaining to such elements as the purpose and meaning of planning and its ethical, visionary, and normative imperatives.
The history of urban planning practice and the development of urban planning profession in the United States and abroad. The institutions that both shape and respond to plans and planning-related activities. The methods that may be used to anticipate and envision future changes to society, and the built environment. The creation, use, and knowledge of comprehensive and other types of plans. The adoption, administration, and implementation of plans. Knowledge of the ways in which planners and planning practice have succeeded in altering the policies, institutions, and decisions that oppose the needs of disadvantaged persons. And the laws and policies relating to environmental planning.
The third criterion that the PAB uses to assess graduate curricula is that graduates of accredited programs should possess the skills needed to practice planning in a variety of venues, in ways consistent with the ethical norms for planning. These include being able to use problem solving skills, to use research skills, to use written, oral, and graphic skills, to use numerical reasoning and computation skills, to collaborate with peers in joint learning activities, something that we heard a lot about from John Reps yesterday.
To use ideas about the creation of plans, programs, or projects to prepare an individually crafted product for a specific planning purpose and audience. To use forecasts and scenarios to anticipate and describe future changes, thereby better to manage them. Use techniques for the adoption and implementation of plans, including relevant regulations, incentives, techniques, and technologies. And an ability to work with diverse communities, especially communities consisting of disadvantaged groups and persons and racial and ethnic minorities or immigrant communities.
The fourth and final criterion that the PAB gives us to assess curricular is that graduates should understand the different values and ethical standards affecting the practice of planning, demonstrating knowledge for, comprehending and discriminating among the goals that an individual, group, community, and organization holds when considering the future, including the values of justice equity, fairness, efficiency, order, and beauty.
Assessing and choosing among different forms of democratic decision-making and comparing and respecting the complex social, historical, and ecological legacies that accompanies urban settlement across the globe, including the values of equity-- cultural and historical preservation and environmental conservation and sustainability. I would make two observations here-- first, thinking about planning curricula has developed a great deal since the early days of the MRP program discussed by John Reps yesterday.
And second, I think you would have to agree that any planning program that can come close to delivering on all of these desiderata I just ran through will not only be favorably assessed now, but stand a good chance of being so assessed in the foreseeable future. Now, he should know that Cornell's department of city and regional planning passed its last PAB accreditation with flying colors-- which is not to say that every graduate can do all of the things I've just read off.
Now, where do these requirements come from? As John Reps suggested yesterday, they emanate from the conversations between and the collaborations of lawyers, landscape architects, civil engineers, and planners. They have evolved and taken on finer articulation in the intervening years from the 1940s. Seen particularly here articles in JPER, or the Journal of Planning Education Research by Linda Dalton and [? Jeannie ?] Birch on the so-called warp and woof of planning education and the evolution of the Practitioner's Guide, the Green Book.
We can, perhaps, sum up the particular aptitudes planners need to possess in order to succeed in their chosen profession more succinctly in the terms used by Derek Shearer. Shearer says that to get on in planning, practitioners must be literate, numerate, and [INAUDIBLE]. And by the last term he means, possess a systems sensibility.
Perhaps the most important aptitude or sensibility of the three in these trying times is having a systems awareness. As Kent Kleinman observed yesterday, contemporary planners are faced with unprecedented challenges, problems more wicked than those previously encountered. This is due to a number of factors, including the increase in human-made engineered systems that shape and penetrate most aspects of our daily lives-- as Emile Durkheim anticipated-- the increasing interdependence of all communities through globalization, the decaying of a generation of infrastructure systems, the looming environmental crisis, the aging of most industrialized countries' populations, and the inconvenient fact that billions of the world's people still don't enjoy minimally acceptable living standards.
What will future planners working in the public domain need to know and need to be able to do to manage change and territorial systems? And what should professional education look like to meet identified needs? My personal view is that future planners will need to develop a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for unexpected behaviors of complex adaptive systems and systems of such systems that make up the environments in which we live and operate.
Immanuel Kant famously observed that from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. We should expect our world to be rife with surprising non-linear interactions. Future planners will need to be able to work closely with systems modelers and planning support personnel to analyze such systems, to articulate needs for information, and design new thought experiments, to explore alternative physical and institutional arrangements, and to visualize possible outcomes. In other words-- to become full partners in a new type of computationally supported planning.
Future planners will need to develop better skills in working with stakeholders and communicating issues of great complexity than are possessed now by practicing planners. They will need to be able to do more of what contemporary planners are asked to do-- do most of what contemporary planners are asked to do, and more.
I think the test of a curriculum is how well it prepares graduates to cope with particular situations-- novel situations-- in which they may find themselves. So let's briefly consider a matter of deep concern to residents of the area in which Cornell University may be found, that of the Marcellus Shale, which extends from the southern tier of New York State down through the plateau of Pennsylvania and into West Virginia.
As you are probably aware, gas extraction is ongoing in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, but not yet in New York State in any great degree. Who are the stakeholders in the decision to drill or not to drill, to extract or not to extract? Well, we have gas companies, landowners, tax payers, environmental regulatory agencies, public service providers, public works departments, et cetera-- all of whom are engaged in planning.
What are their objectives? What are the issues? Some of these are fairly transparent. Others are not. Oftentimes, people can't anticipate what the possible outcomes of different courses of activity may be, and therefore can't properly evaluate what courses of action to take. What do communities in this region need from planners to make prudent decisions? Obviously, they need honest and clear articulations of implications of various courses of action.
What kinds of analyses and actions do planners need to conduct to support these decisions? Obviously very sensitive interactions with various stakeholders and sophisticated and data-intensive analyses of the actions that the different stakeholders might take. What kind of education do they need to do this planning work?
Well, this last question is a trick question, because what's really needed here is a community of experts who know how to operate together to map out this very complex scenario or situation and explore the different scenarios that could emerge from it. Can we reasonably expect of two-year MRP programs-- or graduates of two-year MRP programs-- to step into positions in which they can confidently and competently carry out these kinds of activities?
The answer is no. Can recent graduates expect to be able to develop a plan for greening the infrastructure systems of a metropolitan region with the understanding of a Rob Young? Probably not. Can they expect to be able to critique the internal contradictions of international institutions and the development goals they are ostensibly intended to support with the insight of a Katharine Rankin? I doubt it.
And can they expect to be able to lift up a downtrodden community like a gospel chorus as only Ken Reardon can do? I'd bet against it. Does this mean that students are ill-served by our existing two-year professional masters programs? By no means. As John Reps suggested yesterday, most professional education is gained on the job from people we work with.
A two-year professional master's program only moves us higher up the learning curve. In planning, we need to develop a model of professional education that is based on principles of lifelong learning-- technical, practical, aesthetic, and moral learning. We need to develop support networks so that when practitioners encounter so-called wicked problems, to which Dean Kleinman alluded yesterday, they can tap into the comparative strengths of others with appropriate and greater experience and expertise.
And this is where Cornell and its co-operative extensive tradition-- perhaps in close collaboration with the APA-- could conceivably make a significant difference. The so-called anarchist prince and geographer Peter Kropotkin, who greatly influenced the thinking of Patrick [? Gettys, ?] was concerned with more than just forms of social organization.
In writing about education, Kropotkin encouraged students to demand of their teachers what they need to know to bring about change for the better. For generations, aspiring planners have been showing up in Ithaca in late August demanding the theoretical, practical, aesthetic, and moral knowledge that would enable them to help communities manage changes for the better.
As long as they keep showing up, the faculty in the Department of City and Regional Planning will be challenged to deliver curricula that are insightful, helpful, relevant, and evolving. And they will feel compelled to do so by the very hopes with which prospective planners turn to our department.
Another anarchist and pacifist who wrote for the Catholic Worker Newspaper, Peter Maurin, explained the motivation for his involvement with the newspaper and the organization's soup kitchens as a desire to help build a world in which it was easier for people to be good. I would submit that whether or not a curriculum helps prospective planners to do just this is not a bad overall criterion to use in evaluating it. But of course, I will be greatly interested in what you, who have joined this anniversary's celebration, have to say in the matter. Thank you very much for your attention.
At this time, I would like to invite Rob Young to the podium. And while he's on the way up, I will read you a little bit about who he is and what he does. Dr. Robert F. Young is an assistant professor with the University of Oregon. His current research focuses on environmental policy and planning, specifically the transition to sustainable urban regions. Professor Young is co-founder of the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative, and was recently appointed by the governor to serve on the Oregon Way Advisory Group.
He's previously served as director of planning for the Philadelphia Recycling Office. He was appointed by Governor Christine Whitman as executive director of the Office of Sustainable Business in the New Jersey Commerce Department. And he served on the New Jersey State planning commission board. In the private sector, he founded two successful composting firms in both New Jersey and California.
His publications include articles in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, the Journal of Urban Ecosystems, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, and he has a chapter in Garden Cities to Green Cities, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Welcome, Rob.
ROB YOUNG: If you're ever having a crisis of conscience, just pull out your resume, because everything you've ever done wrong has just been purged away. I want to talk briefly about infrastructure-- thrilling. But before I do that, I just want to take a moment and say to those people in this room who were my instructors, I thank you. To those people in this room to whom I was your instructor, I thank you. And to the rest of you who will continue to be my instructors, I thank you.
Infrastructure planning and pedagogy-- we currently face a profound infrastructure challenge. But this is not the first time that our profession has done so. The first great infrastructure challenge that we faced was the 1840s and 1850s in response to the great wave of industrialization in urban populations. This was the time when public fresh water was brought to Boston and Philadelphia, sewer systems to the cities of Paris and London.
As industrialization and urbanization exploded, these innovations made the modern metropolis possible. They also altered our consciousness of what nature was. It was something we could harness and control and change its relationship to society. And perhaps more pertinent to us, it laid the groundwork that led to contemporary disciplines of planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering.
We are now engaged in the second great phase, the second great infrastructure challenge, that is the present. After 150 years of modification expansion and acute neglect, the original system of gray infrastructure is failing on a monumental scale. The American Society of Civil Engineers and other scholars estimate the need for the vast outlays of capital for repair and expansion of this system for basic needs of water, electricity, highway, rail, air, and seaport facilities.
In the United States alone, the butcher's bill for this comes to $6.5 trillion over the next 20 years. That is eclipsed by Latin America's need of $7.8 trillion over the same time period, Europe's requirement for $9.15 trillion, and Asia's nearly double expectation of $16 trillion. In combination, this is part of a global combined total of $41 trillion dollars that will need to be brought forth over the next 20 years to maintain and expand this system.
But it doesn't end there. It gets better. Because of the changed relationship of nature between society and nature that was established under the first great infrastructure challenge, that is only half of the contemporary situation. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the first doctor's checkup for the global ecosystems as a whole, the Earth's infrastructure-- which it is, indeed, infrastructure, because it is the life support to urban and rural society-- is becoming severely compromised.
In a very famous paper by Costanza et al.-- I think Seinfeld was the other author-- Costanza et al.'s estimate of the yearly value of this infrastructure system and the ecosystems is, in monetary terms of direct public good delivery, $33 trillion annually. It's a $33 trillion annual system that is severely compromised. This notion of it as infrastructure is not abstract.
Currently the Army Corps of Engineers, the most unabstract institution in America today, spends 20%-- 20%-- of its $4.2 billion annual budget on habitat restoration and environmental projects. The Farm Bill, a most recent Farm Bill, earmarked $20.8 billion for conservation programs over six years, the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, $300 million a year for fish and wetland restoration. And Congress recently approved $4 billion to restore the hydraulic capacities of the Florida Everglades.
But these outlays, as large as they are, are a drop in the bucket. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Two Gardens estimates that the repair bill for the rainforests alone, whose ecological services I don't have to enumerate for you, is estimated at about $5 trillion. And in fact, over the next 20 years, the global need for the repair and maintenance of the ecological infrastructure of the planet rivals the $41 billion over the next 20 years for the gray infrastructure.
So we have a dual dilemma. And we do not have the capital to meet the needs of one of them, let alone both of them combined. Therefore, what we need is a new strategy, which has profound implications for our field and our pedagogy. We need a strategy that is synergistic and that heals the rifts that modernity has handed to us and will change the nature of our profession.
So just as the first infrastructure challenge brought forth the contemporary planning field as we know it now, the response to the second challenge will remake it entirely once again. This strategy is built around what people are calling green infrastructure, which simultaneously addresses ecological and social needs, delivers public goods to urban and rural populations, while enhancing environmental systems. This movement is already afoot. I'm proud to be a part of it.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who installed the first public water system during the first challenge, has now committed $1.6 billion to a green infrastructure plan to address water quality over the next 20 years. They did so because unlike Chicago and, strangely enough, Portland that are building gigantic tunnels and reservoirs underneath their city, Philadelphia felt that that was cost prohibitive. Instead, they're doing rain gardens, permeable pavement, green roofs, rain barrels, bio swales, and a new system of taxation that severely punishes impermeable surfaces.
This will change the design features of that city as much as it changes community engagement. In order to do this properly, it can no longer just be the realm of the experts. We have to mobilize the populace in order to execute this. New York City, just to the north, just this month released its green infrastructure program. Although it is doing both sides of the fence and building the gray infrastructure, like Philadelphia, it's adopting these strategies. They're also acquiring 77,000 acres of land to protect their watersheds. And they estimate that they will save $2.4 billion in the total cost of protecting water quality in New York by adopting green infrastructure methods.
Lest you think that this is just a first world project, Siemens this summer in July-- Siemens, the great German conglomerate-- launched its African Green City Index. They're going to assess the existing and regional green infrastructure needs of 16 cities in Algeria, Angola, the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
They're going to center around the provision of energy, clean water, transportation, and waste with a green lens. This makes sense for Africa and it makes sense for Siemens-- for Africa because of the rapid industrialization that's happening there. For Siemens because their environmental portfolio of their corporation represents 30% of their total annual revenues, the equivalent of 23 billion euros a year.
What this means for our pedagogy is that this infrastructure challenge is not merely an infrastructure challenge. It is a pedagogical challenge for the planning field as a whole and for Cornell specifically. Planning students will need training not just in interdisciplinary social issues, but also in ecology. We reach out to design, business, architecture, and law. We need to reach just a little further up on the campus to our fair cousin of ecology and understand the design of the earth while we're thinking about the design of our cities.
This might seem like a radical departure, but of course, all it means is we're going back to our roots, that Mount Rushmore of planning history-- Olmstead, [? Gettys, ?] and Howard-- who, from the very start of our profession, understood the vitality, the necessity, the logic, and the inseparably of joining society and ecology together as an answer to industrialization and the stress of infrastructure.
As Howard wrote while he was answering his cell phone-- Wes Howard famously wrote-- "town and country must be married, and so bring forth a new civilization." Just as the first infrastructure challenge brought forth planning as we know it and as a new profession, answering the second infrastructure challenge will give birth through the social and ecological manifestations-- bring forth a reborn planning field that heals the old divisions and lays the groundwork for the next chapter of global civilization.
This particular department, of which I'm proud to be part of, is unrivaledly situated to do this. We're within short walking distance of some of the finest design and natural resources programs in the world. But it's planning that ties them all together. That will be the challenge in who we train out of this program, people that can tie those factors together and do the impossible once again and address these challenges. Thank you.
SPEAKER: Thank you, Rob, for those profound observations. I'd like to ask Katharine Rankin now to approach the podium. Katharine Rankin is an associate professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto. Her broad research interests include the politics of planning and development, comparative market regulation, feminist and critical theory, neo-liberal governance, and social polarization.
She is the author of the Cultural Politics of Markets-- Economic Liberalization and Social Change in Nepal, and is currently the principal investigator of two research projects funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council on commercial gentrification in Toronto and on post-conflict transition and livelihoods and political subjectivity in Nepal. Welcome, Katharine.
KATHARINE RANKIN: Well, it's great to see so many of you wonderful people. It's been too long since I've been back. I want to congratulate you on this event and on the book, and also thank you for including me in it. I really think Cornell CRP occupies a crucial niche in international planning studies. Its clear grounding in a tradition of progressive planning means that it has stood at a critical distance from the hegemonic centers of international planning practice. And I think this critical progressivism is what distinguishes Cornell CRP from other major planning programs in the States. And I'm quite proud to have had my training here.
I was thinking that if there were one unified direction that international planning studies could take, that it would be to play a key role in challenging market-based approaches to development that are based on all kinds of problematic assumptions about the entrepreneurial capacity of the poor-- as, in fact, the work of [INAUDIBLE] and Bill Goldsmith, [INAUDIBLE] have so effectively worked to show.
But I think even in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, we're hearing a lot more-- and even at this time when we're hearing a lot more about Keynes and [INAUDIBLE] and even Marx, economic development continues to conflate market with social rationality, perpetuating the misguided expectation that market inclusion can resolve social inequality.
And I think this trend is particularly pernicious in the context of international planning, where we've seen the emergence of a series of popular treatises on the idea of entrepreneurial self-help development, like C. K. Prahalad's Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, that aimed to recast the economic vulnerability of the poor as an opportunity for investment, and that these kind of treatises have achieved the status of accepted truth at the centers of knowledge production, like the World Bank.
The wildly popular sector of microfinance that I have been working on for the past few years, I think, is a case in point. You're probably familiar with it. How could you not be these days? It's an approach to poverty alleviation that was first conceived in the global south as an experiment in financial democracy. But as it traveled development circuits over the last 20 years, it is the technologies of risk management that have gotten institutionalized and replicated.
And it's the commitments to social protection that have gotten left behind. So now in the context of the global financial crisis, we're seeing microfinance emerge as yet another opportunity for speculative arbitrage-- it's an amazing story-- and in so doing, only beginning to reproduce the processes of exclusion and discrimination that the model first set out to mitigate.
So I think based just on this one example that international planning studies can and must do three things. One, as the tradition at Cornell has been so strong at, is to expose the global political economies that produce poverty and advocate interventions that aim to balance market with social rationality.
And two is to play a key role in reminding all of us in planning, not just those in the international sector, of the dynamics of imperialism and neo-colonialism in which we are all complicit in our daily practice. And I don't say this for the sake of paralyzing us with a sense of guilt and inaction, but for the sake of encouraging us to practice planning in a way that is fundamentally accountable-- accountable to poor and marginalized people.
So I'm thinking of really basic things, like enlisting the perspectives of those intended to benefit from development in theory, but who are so often marginalized by it in practice. Or seeking out possibilities for linking international planning processes to movements for social and environmental justice so that planning is held accountable to those movements and not just to states and markets.
I think the other-- this is three-- I think another key area for international planning has to do with its necessarily kind of comparative and global scope, right? And that is that it has a role to play in forging translocal strategic alliances, so linking up struggles for the right to the city, and combating the kinds of racism and economic localism that typically come out in these moments of crisis when cities and movements in the global north may be tempted to turn increasingly inwards, and focus on the problems facing their core constituencies.
So what about the curricular priorities that are called for here? Again, I think three come immediately to mind. And they are informed by the path I've taken since I left Cornell, which is to enter a planning program within a geography department with a very strong critical development studies tradition. And I do think a commitment to incorporating the contributions of critical development studies in a planning program are crucial, to probe this relationship between planning and neocolonialism, to challenge the north-south maps of where development takes place, and to just ascribe political agency to the intended beneficiaries of planning practice.
Number two for curricular priorities may be controversial here, but I'm in favor of a commitment to area studies within planning-- to bringing scholars with deep knowledge of a particular region through language and cultural familiarity who can, in turn, mentor students in the kind of engaged planning practice that is deeply committed to context. I think [INAUDIBLE] work is exemplary in this regard at Cornell. And I think we want to really think carefully about disavowing students of the allure of global planning tourism.
And the third curricular priority I was-- that came to mind was a commitment in the curriculum to representing perspectives of international planning from the global south, so including practices of-- innovations coming out of practice, practices that originate in the global south, innovations in research methods designed to capture the perspectives of non-literate and marginalized groups-- a lot of innovation from the global south-- subaltern critiques of international planning and alternative planning paradigms emerging from the global south.
And I think this last area of curriculum development can find expression in the core curriculum, not just in international studies streams, because the innovations and critique from the global south stand to benefit all planners, and because students will be encouraged to recognize unexpected similarities across connected historical geographies. Thanks.
SPEAKER: Thank you, Katharine, for that critical assessment of international planning curricula and suggestions for directions in which we want to go. Our final speaker this morning is Ken Reardon. And Ken Reardon is professor and director of the graduate program for the city and regional planning department of the University of Memphis. He is currently coordinating two resident-led economic and community development planning efforts in South Memphis.
Prior to joining the Memphis faculty, he was an associate professor and chairperson of this very department of city and regional planning at Cornell University, where he pursued research, teaching, and outreach in the areas of neighborhood planning, community development, and community university development partnerships. During his time in Ithaca, he coordinated the department's New Orleans planning initiative, which produced the recovery plan for the ninth ward, which was favorably remarked upon by President Skorton yesterday.
Before joining the Cornell faculty, Reardon was a tenured planning professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his work in establishing the East St. Louis Action Research Project earned him the AICP President's Award and the Dale Prize for excellence in city planning. He's published widely on action-based research and applications of his approach to planning projects. And I welcome you, Ken, to hear your remarks on the future directions that community development planning should take.
KEN REARDON: I'm delighted to be here, a little nervous about following [? Kieran, ?] Rob, and Katharine. Last night after we finished the marvelous reception we had over at the Johnson Museum, I hobbled back-- I'll tell you about that in just a second-- to the Hilton Garden Inn. And I found a group of elder cockers sitting around the Irish bar. They looked vaguely familiar-- [? Klosterman, ?] [? Arbite, ?] and others who I had not had the privilege of meeting.
And they were regaling each other with Barclay Jones stories. And I couldn't resist, so I joined the fray as their slightly younger brother. I guess the reason I say that is that I think all of us who had the chance to sit in classes at CRP had a remarkable privilege to be among people who cared deeply about justice, about participation in place making, community building, and social change, and to be instructed by a remarkable community of scholars.
And we heard from John yesterday, Stew, others, Barkley, Pierre, Bill, Lourdes, Susan, Mildred, and it continues. This past summer I was watching a program about a group of elderly sisters-- Roman Catholic nuns. And their congregation had shrunk a little bit. And they were down to the last dozen. And the two that were leading the community had been bitter enemies since Vatican 2.
But here in their autumn years were responsible for looking forward towards the future of their community. It looked quite uncertain. And it helped me reflect upon my years here as a student and faculty member to realize, yeah, there are very few places on the planet where a community like that we're a part of spend a lifetime informing each other's work about how to move the arc of the moral order towards more just outcomes.
And I feel enormously privileged to be a participant in this community. And I want to thank, as Rob did, all those who had some-- made an effort to try to educate me. I was a little thinking-resistant. I was pretty ideologically based. But I think they did a pretty good job. A couple of thoughts about the implications for future-looking planning education in the area of economic and community development or social planning.
I early on was a community organizer. And my perception of planners was really negative. They were-- I called them the men from no. If you went to the mayor's office and you wanted better public housing, the planning director was the guy they rolled out to give you 100 reasons and 47 charts as to why it was inappropriate, undesirable, and impossible.
And so as I was looking for a graduate program to develop my analytical skills to help citizens movements that I was a part of, I didn't think planning was a place to look until a brighter older sister pointed out the work of Paul Davidoff. And that was my journey. I ended up at Davidoff's master's program at Hunter, where I met Don Sullivan, a graduate of this program, who said, if you care about progressive planning, there's only one place to go.
He says, it's cold. The weather sucks. And there's not a decent restaurant in the whole town or region. And then Don Sullivan rented a car on spring break in 1982-- because I was a little bit nervous-- and drove me to Ithaca. And it was great. My first appointment was with Stan [? Szymanski. ?] And he said, Ken, how many semesters of calculus have you had? And I said, none, Professor [? Szymanski. ?] He says, very nice to meet you.
Thankfully, my next appointment was with Barclay, who wasn't quite as put off by that, and then finally, Pierre, who ended up being my senior professor and mentor through these many years. A couple of thoughts-- because we've had enormous privilege to sit in the seats that we have and to continue to be involved in this remarkable lifelong dialogue, in one of the great planning programs in the United States, because of that, I think we're also called to look critically at our community and where the future is going.
So without being too insulting, let me try to point out some areas that I think we need to do some, perhaps, better work in, to do some further thinking in. It's clear that this program has done a remarkable job at placing into context the work of local planners in the global perspective, and that students through the Cornell program, when they end up in a small town like Liberty, New York, and they find out that 39% of the local residents are Mexican immigrants-- undocumented-- because of global forces, have an enormous number of theoretical, methodological, and policy ideas because of the fact that they're in a program that places its work in a global context.
But I think one of the issues that is raised, and Katharine forces me to think about it, is whether the dichotomy between the domestic and international program at Cornell makes any sense any longer. You know, no matter where we are working, global forces are reshaping local communities. And perhaps it's time to, as the planners and educators back in the day, put the program back together when it was urban design and city and regional planning.
Perhaps it's time to revisit whether or not the international planning program as a separate concentration makes sense in an increasingly globalized world, or whether we should think about this as an integrated form of planning, design, and practice, that no matter where you're operating on the planet-- East St. Louis, Liberty, New York, Mumbai, or Jakarta-- has to be placed in that global context.
So one thing is, do we need to continue to have separate tracks for this, or should we really integrate our perspective? So that's sort of one thing. Second, I thought, again, Katharine made the point very powerfully is that in this current moment, where there's such dynamic change going on in terms of the further integration of the global economy and the reentry of many, many institutions back into urban economic systems, the federal government's return to urban revitalization and development after really not being present for several decades.
In that context, I think we need to also begin to prepare students in a more effective way around more sophisticated approaches to research design that bring together both quantitative and qualitative research methods and prepare students to do that kind of work, to really think about each set of planning challenges and opportunities as a unique circumstance to rethink the kind of data, analytical skills, and participation that are going to be necessary to have informed policymaking.
So I think research design has to be rethought. And even at the master's level, students are going to be called in this new generation, I think, to work with a set of institutions that are quite broad at the local level. The new HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative is a co-produced effort of environmental planning, Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Commerce, and HUD.
And so to address the broad range of regional development issues that those grants require are going to require a much broader set of methodological tools and the ability to craft for unique settings the most appropriate kinds of analytical devices. I think, third, [? Kieran ?] was talking about model building. And I think that's absolutely important. We also have to think about how it involved local knowledge in the research process.
And I think we have to continue to find ways to introduce our students early on in their training to participatory action research as an approach that combines what [? Curt's ?] talked about as local knowledge and the expert knowledge that comes from the academy and a dynamic reciprocal learning environment. And Cornell once had, I think, one of the enviable set of resources around this kind of collaborative approach to research development and community improvement with the CPARN, Cornell Participatory Action Research Network. That has been underresourced and has, I think, largely fallen apart. We need to rethink whether or not we need to re-invent that.
And then I guess taking off of the comment I just earlier made, given the changes in the way HUD is functioning, the sustainable communities initiative, the new neighborhoods of choice, the new promise neighborhoods, all of which require abandoning siloed approaches to community change into an integrated approach to local and regional community revitalization, suggests that the set of disciplines and bodies of knowledge that we introduce students to have to be dramatically expanded.
Rob talked about environmental science, reconnecting to our brothers and sisters up in the ag quad, and also to engineering here. Also we have to think about going back to our early origins, looking at issues related to basic community nutrition. We're facing an extraordinary health crisis. If you look at the girth of our preteens, you can see that the health budget is going to just explode, along with our children, unless we find a different way of feeding ourselves and engaging people in productive activity.
And so urban food systems means we have to develop relationships with the ag school, the nutritionists, and people down in New York that are part of the Cornell School of Medicine. Also I think the work that [? Anne ?] is doing, a third area, is the relationship between the built environment and human activity as it relates to health and wellness. As [? Kieran ?] mentioned, I'm working in South Memphis. We have the worst childhood health indicators in the United States. And it's absolutely frightening.
And it's clear that if we're really going to address that, we have to think about how people eat, how they exercise, and how they access beautifully designed and usable public spaces. We have the great blessing of having George Kessler's great urban parkway system right through the middle of our neighborhood. But it's been basically made unusable through disinvestment over a period of 50 years.
And then rethinking-- we have talked about regional planning for a long time in the profession. But we really haven't provided students, I think, with the kind of organizational skills to design the kind of participatory processes that are going to achieve really difficult outcomes. And one is to, on one hand, animate grassroots folks who may either be unorganized or poorly organized to have a voice in regional decision-making, which I think is a lot more where critical investment allocations are going to be made, but also to involve a very wide range of institutions, from faith-based organizations, labor groups, business groups, trade associations, academic and professional groups, in that process.
And in my time here at Cornell, I don't think we really introduced folks to the challenge of facilitating that kinds of regional planning and development activities. The use of technology, I think [? Kieran's ?] work in making accessible, high-end analytical skills on the web so that different communities of interests can really critically re-examine things from their own perspective and values using dynamic modeling is really an essential tool.
So I guess in summary-- I only want to take up my five minutes here or so-- I'd like to raise the question of whether-- and we are now searching for two positions, which is fantastic, at a time when we don't really have that many positions available in higher ed. It shows, I think, a real commitment of the president and the dean to this department-- whether the dichotomy between international and domestic still makes sense. I think we have to revisit the degree to which we're really preparing students around advanced research methods, and particularly, I think, to introduce ethnography as a way of helping our students enter empathetically communities where they're really studying and working with people from a very different race, class, ethnic or religious, age and gender background than perhaps themselves, a reinvigoration of participatory action research on this campus, because I think increasingly there's a growing demand on the parts of people who are affected by plans to have a voice.
And it means we have to have some way of involving them from the very beginning, in the framing of the research or planning problem to implementation. And then really another area I think we have to look at is the use of social media. I'm a Luddite, as [? Kieran ?] knows. But in South Memphis, the major way that people get news is not through the neighbor-- not through the newspapers. It's not even through local black radio any longer. But in surveys that we've done and also been done by the federal government in our neighborhood, it's hard to believe-- they get it through text messaging.
They may not have a phone. They may not have an internet connection. But they have a mobile unit to permit texting. And that's not even something we think about when we do citizen participation often. So I think it's a complete redesign of the communications approach. And then just a last couple of remarks-- we also have to worry about one of the biggest threats to planning as people begin to revisit the need to look more interdisciplinary-- in an interdisciplinary perspective at our region's futures-- is to make sure that we move from conceptualization to implementation.
So I think we have to find a way to better expose students to the notions of the politics of planning and the politics of plan implementation, everything from grassroots strategies to electoral strategies to media strategies. And you know, in the current moment where there is such deep concern about the extremist elements-- Tea Party organizing, et cetera-- I think we have to take a critical look at what they've figured out in terms of how to reach people, and make sure that our graduates have an understanding of the full set of organizing skills available to them.
And the last three things-- one second at the time-- is I think we ought to look at whether or not through art rich network of alums we might be able to help the department support two kinds of in-residence professors. One would be a practitioner in residence-- a skilled, experienced planning director-- from a city that's really achieved a transformational change. I mean, how many times can we drag Norm from Cleveland?
But yet, he's made such an extraordinary contribution to progressive planning education in our department. Wouldn't it have been nice to have been able to offer a Norm or a Paul Farmer, or currently the planning director of Newark, Cory Booker's planning director, or the former planning director of D.C. or Portland or Seattle?
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City and Regional Planning alumni, faculty, staff, and students gathered Oct. 15-16 to commemorate the department's 75th anniversary.
Chair Kieran Donaghy talks about how the department is positioning itself to train the next generation of planners.