Donald Schön Award for Excellence in Learning from Practice

Deadline: June 30, 2015
(recent photos of winners)

The winner will also be asked to present the paper at the Fall 2015 Annual Conference.

The award is given in memory of Donald Schön and in honor of his seminal work on the reflective nature of creative planning practice.

The award recognizes a paper written for a graduate course in planning, a master's thesis, or a research report which shows excellence in the writer’s personal and/or professional learning from practice and in the analysis of that learning. In addition to submissions which demonstrate reflection on the writer’s professional engagement, the Committee welcomes more theoretical papers on planning practice which use and are informed by Schön’s work.

Submissions may be student work done in pursuit of a planning master's or doctoral degree in planning at any ACSP-member school. The submission should be that of an individual student; group projects are not eligible.

The award carries a cash grant of $1000 USD provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and waived full student conference registration from the ACSP.

The Committee will accept for review only one paper, thesis or report from an ACSP member school. It is expected that the submission will be selected through a participatory process involving faculty and students. Submissions should include one copy of the document and a letter of recommendation from the program or department head indicating why the submission was selected: i.e. how it contributes to reflection in or on planning practice and learning from that reflection.

The award committee will evaluate submitted work according to its contribution to our understanding of reflective practice, to the teaching or to the diffusion of such practice in the profession and in the community. Please submit documentation directly to the committee listed below.

Donald Schön’s work on reflective practice has had a profound impact in all professional fields and has challenged practitioners to learn from their experience in order to achieve excellence in the art of professional practice.

Schön (1930 – 1997) was a professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His colleagues at MIT established the Donald A. Schön Award in honor of his remarkable career and in order to promote reflective practice in city planning and foster its study in planning programs.

Trained as a philosopher (and as a musician), Schön made his mark in the fields of organisation theory and pedagogy by studying how innovation occurs and how individuals and organisations learn. After earning his PhD, he worked on innovation strategies and policies in private consulting and in government. He joined MIT in 1968 as Visiting Professor, became Ford Professor of Urban Studies and Education in 1972 and chaired the Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 1990 to 1992.

Schön’s best-known books are The Displacement of Concepts (1963), Beyond the Stable State (1973), Theory in Practice (with Chris Argyris, 1974), Organizational Learning (w. Chris Argyris, 1978), The Reflective Practitioner (1983), Educating the Reflective Practitioner (1987) and Frame Reflection (w. Martin Rein, 1994).


Raphael Fischler, Chair,
Langley Keyes,
Sarah Kuhn,
Jonathan Richmond,
Elizabeth Schön Vainer,