Inclusive experiential learning at graduate level planning studio: A collaborative governance case

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This study conveys the two-semester studio experience of the Urban Planning Master’s Program at Istanbul Technical University in the 2018-19 academic year. The aim is to build on the conducting of this studio considering its teaching strategies, methods, and curriculum, which were designed for an experiential learning and collaboration experience in line with its topic of collaborative planning and governance. Planning studios in Turkey are largely characterized by an ends-driven comprehensive planning paradigm. However, this study argues that in order to address contemporary planning practices and increasingly complex planning problems such as those in Istanbul, today’s planning studios must explicitly focus on the means of the planning issue at hand and invite students to take on the role of the actual practitioners and empathize with local stakeholders. Based on these premises, the first-semester studio allowed the students to choose a case neighborhood in Istanbul in line with their academic interests. Supported with relevant theoretical readings and case-driven literature research, they were involved in a field trip, a formal briefing at the local municipality, thematic data gathering and analysis (including an advanced stakeholder analysis), assessments, and collaborative planning proposals with spatial, financial and participatory aspects. In the following semester, they were expected to fit their refined plans into a collaborative governance model. They discussed various approaches in both a structured studio debate and an on-site focus group study with local actors to test and revise their models. Through instructor observations, jury assessments, and informal student feedback, the preliminary findings have revealed that an interactive and inclusive studio design which actively involves both students and local actors has greater benefits for graduate students’ motivation, comprehension, and solution generation to real-life planning issues. These findings will be further tested towards a refined studio framework by the end of the academic year
planning studio, experiential learning, collaborative planning, governance