Urban Planning 540: Planning Theory (home)
Fall Semester 2016
TuTh 9:00 am - 10:30 am, 2210 A&A Building

Course Overview


links to other pages
central questions of planning
debates in planning theory
terms and concepts
other theory readings
planning history timeline

Canvas site for this course

Prof. Scott Campbell
office hours sign-up (via google calendar)
office:  2225C A&AB
(734) 763-2077 

Writing Instructor: Prof. Julie Steiff (2208K A&AB) office hours are by appointment: jsteiff@umich.edu
GSI: Matan Singer: mesinger@umich.edu
discussion session: TBA

College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University Of Michigan

Last modified:  September 6, 2016


The Urban Planning Program offers two sections of UP540: Planning Theory: (a) this section; and (b) a section taught by Prof. Kinder. (If you are in the Physical Planning & Design (PPD) Concentration, select Prof. Kinder's section of UP540). Enrollment in each section is limited to ca. 19 students; priority to urban planning students.

Students from other programs:
We welcome your interest in urban planning, and hope to accommodate you either in UP540 or in other planning courses. UP540 is a required core course for all MUP students, so space is sometimes tight and priority given to MUP students. That said, there is space still available in the class. Please contact me or simply come to class and we can speak about enrolling.


Course Overview:
This course provides an introduction to the history and theories of urban planning.  UP540 is the introductory course in a series of theory courses. Other theory courses include: UP575 (Metropolitan Structures); UP650 (Advanced Urban Theory, taught Fall 2016, 2018, etc..); and UP660 (Epistemology and Reasoning for Planning Research, next taught Fall 2017).

The course covers several broad themes: (1)  the historical rise of cities, suburbs and planning; (2) ethical and theoretical questions in planning; (3) case studies of planning; (4) the politics of planning and urbanization; and (5) the current economic, technological and social-spatial transformation of cities.

Throughout the course we will examine how urban and regional planning has confronted a series of debates and challenges:   whether planners should think like architects, social critics or private developers, whether plans should be grand and comprehensive or cautious and incremental, whether planners should assist or resist the private market, whether planners should be neutral professionals or social advocates, and whether planners should create utopian visions of how cities could be or to pragmatically deal with cities as they are.  The conflicting styles of the course readings themselves -- varying from the practical to the scholarly -- also reveal a debate within planning:  should planners develop complex theories of urbanization and decision-making, or simply deal with immediate practical and professional challenges?

\The course is built upon an extensive set of historical and contemporary readings. The lectures are intended to complement, rather than substitute for the readings. You will get the most out of the course if you invest the time to actively engage the readings BEFORE each class. (Don't be surprised if the instructor calls on you in class to discuss an idea from the assigned readings.)


Readings: [still under development]

We will read both articles and selections from books.

• articles (pdf format) on the Canvas system (login through your UM account) [articles in "Modules" (sorted by topic) and in "Files" (sorted A-Z)];

• books NOTE: One book (Hacker and Sommers) is available ONLY in print format. The other two (Hall; Sanyal, Vale and Rosan) are available BOTH in print and through the UM Library's "ebrary" full text database of selected books. Set up a free and easy user name and password. (NOTE: Ebrary allows users to store books together in a "bookshelf" folder. This class's folder is "UP540 Planning Theory"). Of course, some of you may prefer to have paper copies, especially of the Hall book.

• Hall, Peter. 2014. Cities of Tomorrow. fourth edition. Wiley. [Note: earlier editions are ok to use.] [digital version available free for UM students via the UM Library "ebrary"]
• Sanyal, Bishwapriya, Vale, Lawrence J., and Rosan, Christina D. 2012. Planning Ideas That Matter : Livability, Territoriality, Governance, and Reflective Practice. Cambridge, US: The MIT Press. [digital version available free for UM students via the UM Library "ebrary"]
• Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers. 2015. A Writer's Reference. Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 8th edition (note: 7th or 6th edition ok as well, which you can likely find at lower cost than the most recent edition).

Also: the two anthologies of theory readings below are NOT required, but they do contain many excellent readings on planning theory and urban theory. (Many of the articles and chapters will be available through Canvas):
Fainstein, Susan S., and Scott Campbell, eds. 2011. Readings in Planning Theory. third edition. Wiley. OR the fourth editions (edited by Fainstein and DeFilippis)
Fainstein, Susan S., and Scott Campbell, eds. 2011. Readings in Urban Theory. third edition. Wiley. OR the fourth editions (edited by Fainstein and DeFilippis)

\If you would like to get a head start on readings before the semester, I would suggest starting with Hall's Cities of Tomorrow.

Your main task is to actively, critically read the texts and come to class ready to discuss and debate. Reading is critical for this class! You will get so much more out of the semester if you engage the texts with vigor, reflection and discipline.
Students are expected to complete all the required readings before the scheduled class time, actively participate in class discussions and presentations, write several short essay assignments, attend and critique a planning board meeting, and write an in-class exam (scheduled for the last day of class: Dec. 10). Evaluation of your work will be based on substantive content, the logic of your argument, and writing quality. Late assignments will result in point reductions. Note: when I am asked: why do you still have your students read so much (in this ostensible post-book era)? These texts are the best distilled, enhanced representations of the intellectual history of the planning field over the past century. Reading is arguably still the best way to get out of your own preconceptions and grow intellectually (travel and conversation in other cultures and traditions are powerful as well). And another good answer (thanks to Prof. Lisa Disch): because it is the only experience that students will have in common when they come to the classroom each session.

Optional Discussion Session:
In past years the GSI has often held a discussion session. These will be informal sessions. Feel free to bring your lunch/coffee. Use the time to respond to ideas and controversies in the lectures and readings, or discuss ideas in the assignment questions. (We held these sessions in past years and students found them valuable and enjoyable.)

Tentative Schedule (meet in room 2208):

11.29.2016 (Tuesday)

Summer reading:
If you are interested in doing some reading over the summer to deepen your understanding of planning and its intellectual history, here are a few suggestions: Peterson, Jon A. 2003. The Birth of City Planning in the United States, 1840-1917 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins). Jane Jacobs.  The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House). Fishman, Robert, ed. 2000. The American Planning Tradition: Culture and Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins). Rae, Douglas W. 2003. City: Urbanism and Its End ( New Haven: Yale University Press). Sugrue, Thomas J. 1998. The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton Univ Press). Self, Robert O. 2003. American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland ( Princeton University Press). see also the PLANetizen top planning book list.

Academic Integrity:
Students are expected to understand the principles of academic integrity and to diligently follow proper academic procedures, including the correct use of source materials. Please carefully read these guidelines on citing literature and the problem of plagiarism. Please speak with me if you have any questions. I have no tolerance of plagiarism, and students can fail the course (or worse) due to plagiarism.

Laptops and smartphones in the classroom:
Both laptops and smartphones are wonderful devices in many settings, but usually not in the classroom. Laptop and smartphone use during lectures can be distracting and disruptive for both the instructor and other students. I would therefore discourage you from using your laptop during lectures, or if it is the only serviceable way you can take class notes, please be mindful of other students. Rather than using your laptop to look up an unknown concept or word referenced during lecture, you are instead encouraged to ask the instructor. I am happy to answer any question.