Seminar Archive
40th Anniversary
Fall 2007 - Spring 2008
Fall 2006 - Spring 2007
Fall 2005 - Spring 2006
Spring 2005
SPURS/Humphrey Program Luncheon Seminar Series

“History of Planning Ideas" Fall 2007 - Spring 2008
Mondays, 12:15-2:00PM, Room 7-338 (Stella Room)

Reservations are required for lunch; please email

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of MIT’s degree program in city planning and the 40th anniversary of the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS), we are pleased to announce a yearlong seminar series focusing on the History of Planning Ideas. The broad objective is to probe why and how some ideas influenced the field of planning. We intend to pursue this objective through a set of specific questions, such as: What explains the emergence, dissemination and longevity of influential planning ideas? What were the critical points in the trajectory of planning ideas? Specifically, what were the main criticisms of these ideas? When did such criticisms emerge and did these criticisms succeed or fail
to halt the power and popularity of these ideas? How do such ideas evolve with changing socio-economic and socio-political contexts? Why do some ideas get exported internationally while other similar ideas remain tied to their original settings? Why are some exported ideas received better than others in different institutional settings? Do planning ideas return to their origin transformed by the implementation experience elsewhere? To what extent are these ideas really planning ideas——as opposed to ideas from other fields that have been adopted or adapted by planners? What, exactly, makes an idea into a planning idea?

In raising such questions, our ultimate intellectual interest is to understand better the trajectories of powerful planning ideas in an increasingly interconnected world, and also understand the roles of individuals and institutions, including governments, business firms, professional groups universities, and civil society groups in framing planning problems and ideas. We are aware that even in the domain of ideas, not all outcomes are intended and that particular historical conjunctures of political and economic factors do shape the trajectories of planning ideas. In short, we wish to use the speaker series to probe historically grounded stories of the evolution of key planning ideas, with special attention to the possibility of counter-intuitive insights regarding the way ideas are shaped by global interconnections. By analyzing the growing popularity of some ideas over others, such stories may reveal the reasons for the longevity of certain ideas in a world of rapid change and the power of hybrid ideas in creating a global community of like minded professional and scholars.

September | 17
Peter Ward
C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in US-Mexico Relations
University of Texas at Austin
"The Idea of Self-Help Housing"

October | 15
Mohammed Qadeer
Professor Emeritus, Queens University, Canada
"The Idea of Urban Development"

November | 19
Robert Fishman
Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan
"The Idea of New Urbanism"

December | 3
Raphael Fischler
Associate Professor of Urban Planning, McGill University
"The Idea of Reflective Practice"

February | 11
Gary Hack
Paley Professor of City & Regional Planning, Dean of the School of Design, University of Pennsyvlania
"The Idea of Good City Form"

February | 25
Merilee Grindle
Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development, Harvard University
"The Idea of Good Governance"

March | 10
Lynne Sagalyn
Professor of Real Estate Development and Planning, University of Pennsylvania
"The Idea of Public-Private Partnerships and Entrepreneurial Planning"

March | 17
Michael Teitz
Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
"The Idea of Regionalism"

March | 31
Timothy Beatley
Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, University of Virginia
"The Idea of Sustainable Development"

April | 7
Robert Yaro
Professor of Practice, City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania
"The Idea of Metropolitanism"

April | 14
Patsy Healey
Professor Emeritus of Town and Country Planning, Newcastle University
"The Idea of Communicative Planning"

April | 28
Niraj Verma
Professor and Chair, The State University of New York at Buffalo
"The Idea of Organizational Learning"

May | 5
Neil Brenner
Professor of Sociology, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
"The Idea of Territorial Competitiveness"

May | 12
June Manning Thomas
Centennial Professor in Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan
"The Idea of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice"

For more information, call 617-253-5915
Reservations are required for lunch through
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