Throughout my sixty years of professional and academic experience in endeavoring to advance the field of city and regional planning, a critical deviation from its origins has taken place. In our youth in the 1950s, the problem-solving and future-oriented prospects for the new field, particularly here in California, captured our participation. In this paper, I seek to see clearly my own role in that direction and to understand how this was altered by the phenomenon of social science dominance without reference to its interdependence with the reality of spatial structural systems that make cities the stimulating holistic places they are.
Activated by those of the preceding half-century, who left behind cities to learn from and improve upon, we had our minds set to play roles in the further evolution of urban places. We saw professional practice in a context of planning education and unknowingly pioneered its evolving as the source of human betterment of cities and regions. Thus, I have placed in chronological order a selection of thirty-four writings on planning curricula, decade by decade from the 1940s to 2001. For each, I quote excerpts from the authors, most of whom I have known personally. These make clear the obstacles our generation has carried forward from the 1940s to the 1960s. In a personal writing style, I then reflect on points of view that may assist in re-establishing the interrupted evolutionary process begun earlier to join together social sciences advances made through these decades with those in physical planning and design.
In Part III, developed as the major sequence of references was being completed, is an update of current steps being taken to restore comprehensive planning that were generated at the APA Conference held in New Orleans in March 2001. My writing is slanted toward the young people coming into the professional field from our planning schools. Becoming aware of the critical changes in curriculum content over this 65-year process, they can identify with the past as they move forward with the evolution of the field in the coming decades. Part IV concludes the paper with prospects worth exploring to give vigor, spirit, and reality to planning education and research and its professional responsibilities for the decades ahead. The list of references excerpted will facilitate further exploration by the reader.
The issues generated by my review for which solutions need to be found include the gap between theory and practice, the spatial and socio-economic integration, the dominance of economics with the social sciences, the lack of connection to the environmental design field, a return to a focus on local and regional scales, form, and identity, and the maturing value of life experience in dealing with our increased urban complexities since mid-century. These are considered in the context of an Urban and Regional Planning Universe for Interactive Curriculum Design through which a more interconnected quality of planning education might evolve.