Z - PhD Workshop
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October 10 & 11, 2017  ~  Boulder, Colorado

Hosted by the ACSP Doctoral Committee

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Doctoral Committee of ACSP invites doctoral students of planning working on their dissertation research to attend the 2017 ACSP PhD Workshop. Responding to feedback from last year’s participants, this year the workshop will be a 1.5 day event. It will be hosted in Boulder, CO, during Tuesday afternoon October 10 and all day Wednesday October 11, just prior to the ACSP Annual Conference in Denver starting Thursday, October 12.

The workshop attracts PhD students from planning programs from around the world to gather and discuss the practical details of creating, producing, distributing and consuming planning knowledge among scholars. Workshop participants will learn to conceive, design, and present PhD-quality research to multiple audiences, including, most centrally, their peers. Students will advise one another as scholars pursuing unique research paths within a community of shared inquiry. The faculty work jointly as teachers, advisors, and coaches.

Participants & Faculty

The workshop is oriented toward planning doctoral students who have passed their qualifying examination (or equivalent) and will be defending, or have recently defended, their PhD dissertation proposal within about six months prior to or following the workshop. Students will have multiple opportunities to present their work to their fellow students and workshop faculty in smaller breakout sessions. Students will be expected to submit a synopsis of their dissertation proposal about one month before the workshop. The workshop will be limited to approximately 20 students to ensure adequate time for participation and feedback. Workshop faculty will include be drawn from several institutions. All have extensive experience advising PhD students in multiple domains.

Workshop Facilities, Fees, & Costs

The workshop will be hosted on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, by the UC Program in Environmental Design, just prior to the start of the ACSP 2017 Conference in Denver. The workshop registration fee is $200/person. This fee will cover logistical costs for the workshop and meals provided. The workshop fee does not include travel or accommodation costs. The workshop hosts have arranged for sleeping rooms at discounted rates however, ranging from about $140 to $200 per night. Buses are available for transit to the UC Boulder campus from both Denver International Airport and downtown Denver for under $10 per trip one way. More information on accommodations and inter-campus travel will be provided to workshop participants.

Workshop Themes

The workshop will include both plenary and small-group sessions. Each student will make at least two presentations about his or her research during the course of the workshop. The workshop organization will be based on four questions about your dissertation research: Who, Why, What, and How?

  • WHO: Who is the audience for your research? Will it be undertaken and presented in a manner that is understandable to your audience?
  • WHY: What purpose does your inquiry serve? Why should others care about your research? What difference will your inquiry and results make?
  • WHAT: What is your central hypothesis or proposition, or argument? What knowledge claims do you expect your research to support? What questions do you hope to answer?
  • HOW: How do you expect to conduct your inquiry? How will you organize your inquiry (Research design)? What tools do you need to answer your major questions (Methodology)?

Tentative Workshop Agenda

Tuesday October 10

   Travel from Denver to Boulder via Shuttle 
 1:00-1:30   Registration
 1:30-2:00  Overview & Introductions
 2:00-3:00  Presentation: Research Audience, Goal, Question, & Design
 3:00-3:15  Coffee Break
 3:15-5:30  Breakout Exercise: Research Questions & Design (Facilitated by Faculty)
 5:30-6:00  Break
 6:00-7:30  Dinner & Panel Discussion: Getting through the Dissertation

Wednesday October 11

 8:00-8:30  Breakfast / Recap for the day
 8:30-9:30  Group Discussion – Report out on Research Design & Pandora’s Box*
 9:30-10:30  Presentation: Strategies for Selecting Appropriate Research Methods, Presentation
 of Findings
 10:30-10:45  Coffee Break
 11:45-Noon  Breakout Exercise: Student Discussion of Research Proposals (Facilitated by Faculty)
 Session 1
 Noon-1:30  Lunch
 1:30-2:45  Breakout Exercise: Student Discussion of Research Proposals (Facilitated by Faculty)
 Session 2
 2:45-3:00  Coffee Break
 3:00-4:00  Group Discussion – Report Out & Pandora’s Box*
 4:00-5:00  Panel Discussion: Life After the Dissertation
   Dinner on your own, return to Denver

*Pandora’s Box = Discussion allowing students to express and discuss concerns and anxieties as they conceive of or undertake their research (will this approach/question/exercise be a fruitful endeavor or am I opening a Pandora’s Box?)

Workshop Scholarships

A limited number of scholarships are available from ACSP to assist with workshop fee. Students are encouraged first to request funds from their universities to help offset travel and workshop-related expenses. Those requesting assistance from ACSP should do so as part of their application in the form of a brief statement describing your reasons for requesting financial support. You may also ask the faculty who writes your letter of recommendation to address your need for financial assistance.

Key Dates

  • Application Deadline: Friday July 14, 2017
  • Notification of Acceptance: Friday August 4
  • Synopsis of Dissertation Proposal Due: Tuesday September 12
  • Workshop: Tuesday and Wednesday October 10 and 11

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted on-line using the form below. The application materials to be submitted include:

  1. A current resume or CV
  2. Completion of a short on-line application form (including a short – no more than 500 word) abstract of the applicant’s dissertation project
  3. The name and email address of the applicant’s principal academic advisor. The advisor will be asked separately to respond a short form as well.

Applications will be reviewed by the ACSP Doctoral Committee. Previous years’ workshops have been able to accommodate about 60% of those who applied.

Dissertation Proposal

All those selected to participate must submit a four-page (single-spaced) summary of the student’s dissertation research proposal no later than September 12th, 2017. These will be distributed among participating students and faculty prior to the workshop. In addition, all participants will be expected to make an 8-minute, 5-slide presentation of their research during the afternoon of the workshop.

For More Information

For more information regarding workshop content, please contact Richard Norton, rknorton@umich.edu. For more information regarding workshop logistics, please contact Donna Dodd, ddodd@acsp.org.

Application deadline has passed.



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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