News & Press: ACSP Annual Conference News

A Closer Look with Award Winner Madeleine Koch

Monday, January 30, 2017  
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ACSP/MIT Don Schön Award for Excellence in Learning from Practice

Manitoba Relationship Stories: When First Nations and Local Governments Plan Together
Madeleine Koch, University of Manitoba

Madeleine Koch wrote her master’s thesis in 2016, under the supervision of Janice Barry. Entitled “Manitoba Relationship Stories: When First Nations and Local Governments Plan Together,“ the thesis follows Don Schön’s lead in studying the lived experience of practitioners and in bringing them to reflect on their practice. As Madeline wrote to the award committee, “intergovernmental planning [between First Nations and municipal or regional agencies] can be highly political and complex”; inducing practitioners, including members of First Nations, to tell “practice stories” from the field helps them, and helps the researcher, understand the challenges they face and the strategies they can adopt to meet those challenges.

ACSP recently connected with Madeleine to find out more about this accomplishment.

How did you feel when you won the award?
I felt honored and proud to be part of the influential legacy of Donald Schön.

Who do you want to thank, if anyone?
I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Janice Barry, and my other committee members, Ian Wight and Aimée Craft, for nominating me for the award. I would like to thank the selection committee for choosing me as an award recipient. I would like to thank my research participants for sharing their rich practice stories with me. And I would like to thank Donald Schön for introducing this profound method of inquiry to planning academia.

What inspired you about this project?
I was inspired by the vast learning opportunities associated with the study of practical experiences, both at the formal academic level and at the practical level. This project has inspired me to reflect on my own planning practice as I go forward in my career, and to never underestimate the power of learning from the practical experiences of others.

What’s next?
I look forward to using the guidance I have received during graduate school as I continue my career as a planner in British Columbia.

Madeleine's Bio
Madeleine Koch is a recent graduate of the University of Manitoba's Master of City Planning program, and lives in British Columbia, Canada. She has experience working in Local Government planning on Vancouver Island.

About ACSP Awards
Each year ACSP is proud to honor faculty and students who have distinguished themselves or made major contributions to the academy or to the profession via outreach efforts, public service or for service to ACSP, the Academy, or the profession. A complete listing and history for all awards can be found at

The Donald A. Schön Award for Reflective Practice is given to two students this year: Lillian Jacobson, of MIT, and Madeleine Koch, of the University of Manitoba. The committee congratulates both Lillian and Madeleine for their well-written, thoughtful and inspiring work. It shows how much can be achieved when planning students set out to empower communities and to learn from practice.

The 2016 Donald A. Schön Award Committee includes: Committee Chair Raphaël Fischler, McGill University; Robert Goodspeed, University of Michigan; Langley Keyes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sarah Kuhn, University of Massachusetts; Jonathan Richmond, independent scholar; and Elizabeth Schön Vanier.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.