Student Award - Don Schön Award
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Nominations Now Closed


The award is given in memory of Donald Schön and in honor of his seminal work on the reflective nature of creative planning practice. Since 1998, the Donald Schön Award has recognized 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.

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.

The award carries a cash grant of $1000 USD provided by the ACSP and funded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The ACSP will also provide waived conference registration if the student is available to attend and present their award-winning paper at a special Student Award Paper Session at the Annual Conference. 



The deadline for submission of applications is June 1. All submissions for this award must use the form below.



  • 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 Committee will accept for review only one submission per ACSP member school. It is expected that the submission will be selected through a participatory process involving faculty and students.
  • Submissions may be a paper, thesis, report or video/digital story/report. Submissions should include the document and a PDF 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. Combine the documents into one file for submission. In the case of a video/digital story/report, provide the necessary links to review the project.


Biography of Donald Schön

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 organization theory and pedagogy by studying how innovation occurs and how individuals and organizations 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).



  • Chair: Meghan Gough, Virginia Commonwealth University,
  • Robert Goodspeed, University of Michigan,
  • Asli Gocmen, University of Wisconsin, Madison,


Past Award Winners

  • 2020 Dawn Smith, University of British Columbia
  • 2019 Cauam Ferreira Cardoso, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2018 No winner
  • 2017 No winner
  • 2016 Lillian Jacobson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Madeleine Koch, University of Manitoba
  • 2015 No winner
  • 2014 Ella Ver, Columbia University
  • 2013 Robert Goodspeed, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, DUSP
  • 2012 Aftab Erfan, University of British Columbia
  • 2010 Kas Aruskevich, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • 2008 Amy Stitely, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2006 Barbara Brown, University of Texas
  • 2005 Claudia Canepa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2002 Natasha Freidus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sarah Cohen, University of Michigan; Catherine Geisen-Kisch, University of Minnesota
  • 2001 Sara Cohen, University of Michigan, "Developing Community Ownership of an Urban Vegetable Garden: A Participatory Action Research Project in Detroit"
  • 1999 Jeffrey Burdick, Chae Gun Chung, Edward Hug, Eric Laube, Karin Morris, Gregory Nishimura; University of Michigan




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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