"What is city planning?" For parties, for elevator speeches...
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12/9/2016 at 12:10:27 PM GMT
Posts: 12
"What is city planning?" For parties, for elevator speeches...

I'm often asked, What is city planning?, when I answer a question about what i do for a living, and say, I teach city planning at USC. The inquiry usually comes from lay persons, but sometimes from other members of our university faculty--who would never ask, What is Philosophy?

I don't want some deep or just right answer. Just what do you say to someone so that they are more or less satisfied that they understand.   By the way, since we almost never plan cities or even neighborhoods, even when we are doing general plans, that won't do. I sometimes say, we train bureaucrats, developers, and troublemakers.  The latter role made sense in 1970 or so, not so sure today.

If you prefer, you can write me directly at krieger@price.usc.edu


PS--If I post too much, let me know. I don't hang around water-coolers, or even do lunch much, so here I am.

1/26/2017 at 10:06:53 PM GMT
Posts: 12

As an undergrad, I used to joke that my major (planning) consisted of stapling five minors together: Politics, economics, engineering, sociology and urban design. When talking to the members of the general public, when asked "What do you do?" I often tell them "I decide where the roads go". Relating what I do to people's experience of the built environment seems to work well; everyone likes to talk about traffic congestion and parking. 

Last edited Friday, January 27, 2017
2/7/2017 at 9:21:32 PM GMT
Posts: 5
Martin, you might find this video helpful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5ot_1tbQX8

Jennifer Evans-Cowley, PhD, AICP
Vice Provost for Capital Planning and Regional Campuses
Professor of City and Regional Planning
The Ohio State University


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.


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