Refresh Your International Planning Syllabus! A Report From ACSP 2017

By Andrew Rumbach (, University of Colorado Denver and Lesli Hoey (, University of Michigan

A common challenge facing planning educators is to keep current in topic areas where they teach but do not have an active research agenda. For example, a professor may conduct research primarily on housing, but teach her department’s graduate course on international planning, which is necessarily broader in scope. To help overcome this challenge for courses in international planning/development, several scholars participated in a roundtable on planning education at the 2017 ACSP annual conference in Denver, Colorado.

A sample slide from the ACSP session "International Planning: Refresh Your Syllabus!"

A sample slide from the ACSP session "International Planning: Refresh Your Syllabus!"

The participants were:

  • Andrew Rumbach, University of Colorado Denver (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management)
  • Lesli Hoey, University of Michigan (Food Policy Planning)
  • Manish Shirgaokar, University of Alberta (Transportation Planning and Policy)
  • Ashima Krishna, University of Buffalo (Historic Preservation Planning)
  • Paavo Monkkonen, University of California Los Angeles (Housing Policy and Urbanization)
  • Priyam Das, University of Hawaii (Water and Sanitation)

Each presenter shared suggestions for teaching international planning in their area of specialty, including:

  • A ‘classic’ reading in their area with a short justification for why it should be included on a contemporary syllabus. A ‘classic’ reading is one of those key pieces that were provocative or even paradigm changing for their time, or pieces many people totally disagree with today, but which set the stage for later scholarship and debates;
  • A ‘summary’ or overview reading or case study, with a short explanation of why it is effective. An ‘overview’ reading is one that reviews the state of knowledge in the field, and very often might be a literature review or case study with terrific grounding in the literature. These readings are helpful for showing where the current state of knowledge is, where the gaps are, and where the field might be heading.
  • A ‘cutting edge’ reading that represents the best new work in their field in the past year, and a justification for why it is fresh or exciting;
  • One assignment, in-class exercise, or other activity that they have used effectively to teach their specialization, with a short description of why it has proved effective in the classroom

You can find the participants’ suggestions in the attached presentation. We share these slides to offer other urban planning colleagues ideas for refreshing their syllabi dedicated to international planning as well as courses aiming to integrate PAB’s “Global Dimensions of Planning” requirement. The ACSP is an ideal venue for planning educators to meet with colleagues who teach similar courses and to share their recommendations for research and pedagogical tools in their subfields. We look forward to further international planning pedagogy conversations at next year’s ACSP!