Training Young Planners as Experts in Participatory Processes: Thoughts and Experiences from Palermo, Italy

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The following reflections are based on an innovative planning education model inspired by the cooperation of the Department of Architecture with public and private stakeholders. The model is based on two topics that are widely debated in urban studies, but apparently unconnected: the dissemination of participatory practices and cooperation between public and private actors, and the scientific and professional training to provide for new generations of urban planners. We argue that preparing students engaged in urban studies to the management of participatory practices is an inescapable need in today’s Italian and international context. To address the issue of public-private cooperation in Italy, as a new approach to contemporary governance, we must consider that participation is increasingly becoming a subject of discussion. In the educational path we propose, qualitative techniques have been used mainly, but not exclusively. Thanks to the comparison of the points of view of the social actors involved in these processes, planning students have acquired professional skills that are producing significant professionalizing effects, including the birth of some associations of young graduates engaged in cooperation processes with the municipal administration. We therefore believe the experience of Palermo can be significant beyond the unique local context.
participation, teaching methods, education, governance