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Special Session: Examining Global Planning Education - An Open Conversation

Hosted by the ACSP Global Planning Education Task Force. Global planning education in North America finds itself at a crossroads once again. Since the 1950s planning approaches to understanding international and global contexts have gone through several turning points. Early theories in comparative planning, influenced by modernization theory, assumed that Europe and the United States were to be emulated as the apogee of planning theory and practice.

Beginning in the 1960s, however, planning pedagogy and research began to emphasize the particularity of cities, and the need to root planning approaches in an understanding of societies, cultures, and the historical and contemporary role of economic and political structures operating at an international scale in shaping urban issues. The 1980s saw a turn towards an interest in issues of globalization and neoliberalization, and the challenges that these forces presented to cities across the globe. Today, we witness a dramatic turn inwards in national political discourse, as political leaders in the United States ratchet up discourses of American exceptionalism, and cast immigrants and other nations as threats to American security and prosperity.

What do these changes mean for global planning education? How do we educate our students to tackle the inward and nationalistic turn in political discourse? How do we train students to understand and reflect on the ways that the global intersects with local planning practice, whether in the US or in other contexts? What challenges and opportunities does the current political moment present to planning education more generally in its efforts to bring the global dimensions of local issues to the attention of current and future planning practitioners?

This session is hosted by the ACSP Global Planning Education Task Force, which has been tasked by ACSP with reviewing contemporary practices in global planning education and research. As part of its review, the Task Force plans to hold sessions at the 2017 and 2018 ACSP annual meetings in order to better understand the perspectives of a broad range planning academics, and to foster a continuing discussion about the agenda of the Task Force with the broader ACSP community. We hope to gain input from a range of stakeholders planning educators from programs that have significant course offerings in global and international planning and those that do not, and faculty who conduct research and teaching that is explicitly international and those who do not. While taking the above questions as a starting point, we intend for this session to be an open discussion that may touch on any number of issues of interest to attendees, including the role of global planning in curriculum and instruction, recruitment and engagement of international students, issues of accreditation, and others.


  • SHATKIN, Gavin [Northeastern University], moderator
  • CAROLINI, Gabriella [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], moderator
  • HOEY, Lesli [University of Michigan]
  • EHRENFEUCHT, Renia [University of New Mexico]
  • MCDONALD, Noreen [UNC-Chapel Hill]
  • VAN ZANDT, Shannon [Texas A&M University]