Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.
As the northern summer starts, one of the questions I am
asked most frequently by current and prospective planning students is: what
should I read? A number of resources are available to answer this question. This
month I look at general planning readings for a North American audience but in
coming months I’ll explore readings about global planning issues, planning
methods, and planning classics.
For those wanting an overview of planning issues, the
following lists are good places to start:
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - 7:22am PDT
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - 2:08pm PDT
Completing any type of academic exit project in planning school requires
more than writing a proposal and executing it. It also involves assembling and then
managing a committee. “Managing up” involves working with your committee to
achieve what is important to you while also doing what they see as essential.
It is a vital part of the exit project and terrific preparation for later life.
Those who don’t learn to manage up are doomed to frustration. They likely will
spend extra time making revisions that could have been avoided. Even those who
are skipping the thesis in favor of a group capstone workshop or studio will
need some skills in managing faculty advisors.
Monday, March 31, 2008 - 4:34pm PDT
In January I explored what kind of exit paper or project
students of planning should prepare, why they should write such papers, and
when. This month I turn to the proposal, examining key issues any proposal
writer needs to consider. As I outline below, the parts of the proposal are
fairly standard. However, three areas typically trip up students working on
exit projects: identifying the audience(s), framing the question, and reviewing
Friday, February 29, 2008 - 12:46pm PST
My December blog dealt with key problems faced by those heading for an end-of-school-year graduation—completing a proposal, choosing methods, starting to write, and dealing with formatting. This month I step back and ask some bigger questions: what kind of exit paper or project you should prepare, why, and when?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 2:44pm PST
For students facing the end of their masters programs, an individual exit project, paper, or thesis is often part of the final semester. Over the years I’ve watched many very competent students struggle with this process and delay graduation for years because they could not complete their thesis or project “book”. Over the following months I am going to focus on the various parts of the process of writing these documents—from literature reviews and research questions to time management and creating informative illustrations. To help those currently near the end, in this entry I focus on key trouble spots for those a few months from graduation.
Monday, December 31, 2007 - 2:46pm PST
Online versions of journals have made quick inroads at universities. However, subscriptions are expensive and those outside universities seldom have access. A new generation of open access journals is making planning research accessible beyond the campus.
Some examples illustrate the range of material now available. Some are fully accessible and some are partially open to non-subscribers:
Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 8:43am PST
As education has become more expensive students wonder about what they are getting for their money. Evaluations of faculty, rankings of programs, and internet chat-room gossip all aim to find how to purchase the best value for money given a specific set of preferences. However, it is a misunderstanding to see students as primarily consumers of instruction. Rather the best students collaborate with faculty and other students to produce their own learning.
What does this mean? In planning, as an applied profession, the activity of producing learning has a number of components. The following represent just a few of these mechanisms.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 9:39am PDT
Many students choose planning over business school because they want to serve the public and change the world. However, saving the world is a complicated task. What kind of school will prepare you? As in many parts of life there isn’t a simple answer but a few key points can help frame your search. And remember, you don’t need to answer all these questions before you apply—get a good enough list and then investigate them some more once you have real offers.
Monday, September 24, 2007 - 12:12pm PDT
With the summer coming to a close new students are making their way to graduate planning programs. For those thinking about applying for 2008 it is time to start preparing. The deadlines can be as early as December, now only a few months away. These tips, based on my experiences on several admissions committees, can help you make sense of the application process.
What Admissions Committees Look For
Planning schools consider up to six different elements in admissions to masters programs: letters of intent, experience in activities related to planning (paid and volunteer work, internships, and activism), letters of reference, previous grades, GREs, and work samples.
Saturday, August 18, 2007 - 1:21pm PDT