Urban Planning 540: Planning Theory (home)
Fall Semester, 2013
TuTh 9:00 am - 10:30 am, 1227 A&AB.

Course Overview

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

Prof. Scott Campbell
Office hours
office:  2225C A&AB
(734) 763-2077 

GSI: Alexandria Stankovich
office hours: TBA

College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University Of Michigan

Last modified:  August 26, 2013


The Urban Planning Program offers two sections of UP540 Planning Theory in the fall. Prof. June Manning Thomas will teach a separate section of UP540 at the same time (room 2108). MUP students may enroll in either section (If space is available. Enrollment in each section is limited to ca. 35 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 tight and priority given to MUP students. If you would like to be considered for the fall course, come (if possible) to the first session and speak to me briefly after class or send me a note. I will contact you in the first week or two of the semester in the event that any spaces become available.


Course Overview:
This course provides an introduction to the history and theories of urban planning.  It is a required course for all MUP students. Students from other programs and departments are also welcome to take this course if space is available. UP540 is the introductory course in a series of theory courses. Other theory courses include: UP575 (Metropolitan Structures); UP650 (Advanced Urban Theory,next taught Fall 2014, etc.); and UP660 (Epistemology and Reasoning for Planning Research, taught Fall 2013).

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.

Required Books:
three books -- listed on the central ctools textbook list:
Fainstein, Susan S., and Scott Campbell, eds. 2011. Readings in Planning Theory. revised third edition. Wiley.
Fainstein, Susan S., and Scott Campbell, eds. 2011. Readings in Urban Theory. revised third edition. Wiley.
Hall, Peter. 2002. Cities of Tomorrow. :Wiley/Blackwell.
additional readings are made available via ctools online. Authentication required -- you will be prompted to login using your UM uniqname and password.

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

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. And a second 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: TBA
The GSI will hold 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.)

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 in the classroom:
Laptop computers (and smartphones, etc.) are wonderful devices in many settings, but not in the classroom. Laptop computer use (especially using the internet) during lectures is distracting and disruptive for both the instructor and other students. Please do NOT use your laptop during lectures. (If you have a compelling reason to use a laptop during class, please contact me.) Rather than using your laptop to look up an unknown concept or word referenced during lecture, you are instead encouraged to ask the instructor.