New perspectives in planning education: how planners can collaborate in interdisciplinary work environments

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The ever-networking contemporary society has impacted on urban areas, making their physical, social, economic and organizational dimensions more complex. Consequently, sustainable spatial development has become a challenging aim, which requires planners to collaborate with professionals from other disciplinary domains. Many urban sustainability problems necessitate joint action of different practitioners/researchers (representing public and private institutions and/or nongovernmental organizations). Their involvement may range from the physical/design dimension to technical/engineering, sociological, economic, environmental and organizational dimensions. These public and private actors explicate their standpoints, negotiate, and develop a common response to a specific problem. Given the increasing need for collaboration with different professionals, planning education should be improved in such ways to prepare students for interdisciplinary work. Furthermore, today city planners increasingly work in international projects/ institutions requiring a global as well as a multicultural understanding of urban problems. Both interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches should be incorporated into planning education. This study portrays the findings of an international interdisciplinary programme (an Erasmus Intensive Programme), where 45 master students from 9 different countries with different disciplinary backgrounds (city planning, architecture, sociology, geography, territorial sciences) came together. They worked in teams to develop sustainable spatial development projects for an urban area in Ankara. Based on questionnaires with students, the study shows students’ perspectives about interdisciplinarity; what new perspectives they learned from one another, what challenges they faced. The outcomes help us understand the achievements and challenges that interdisciplinary experiences present, provide lessons in preparing similar programmes, and better prepare planning students for interdisciplinary work environments.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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