Ann Forsyth's blog

Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.
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Managing Your Academic Adviser

It’s the middle of summer and few people are thinking about the return to school. However, in the coming month or two new students will need to start interacting with their faculty adviser. The following tips can help make it a productive relationship. 

I’ve Graduated, Now What?

Many of those who have recently graduated in planning are currently asking “how can I get a job?” Of course a number of recent graduates do have work. But government budget cuts may mean that local jobs are hard to get. This is the time to use your imagination. To get you started here are some ideas: 

Summer Conferences with an Agenda: Ideas for Students and Others

Spring is conference season for many major professional associations including the American Planning Association. However, if you missed APA this year, or even if you didn’t, a number of more specialized groups meet over the summer in smaller and more focused settings. Student registrations and deals on accommodation can make these very affordable. 

Obtaining Letters of Reference for Graduate School in Planning

I’ve had a lot of students ask me recently about who should write a letter of reference as they apply to graduate school. I have a policy on my own web site stating when I will write a letter but there are more general principles that hold across many faculty members and programs. 

Managing Time in Graduate School

Recently, a number of students have asked me questions about a similar topic—managing time. In graduate school there are deadlines. Some required tasks are not things you would choose to do unless forced—just like the world of work. At the same time one has a relatively large amount of flexibility as to how one organizes time to get it done. The tips below aim to help you figure out an approach to this difficult issue. They draw on my own observations. However, my able researchassistant Amanda Wilson provided some additional comments and I quote her fromtime to time! Errors are of course mine.

Internet Presence for Job Candidates

The internet has great potential as a means of professional marketing for many soon-to-be and recent graduates. Not everyone in planning, however, uses it well. The following tips aim to help you realize its potential and avoid its pitfalls. 

Should I do a PhD in Planning?

In coming weeks doctoral applications in planning are due. Why apply?

For professional planners, a PhD sometimes sounds interesting compared with doing a regular job in a municipality. Some designers remember studio professors who seemed to float into class, unprepared, for a few hours per week. Compared with the ups and downs of private design practice, this can seem quite appealing. Of course, some people genuinely like studying and research, want to make a contribution in that area, and have a flair for teaching.

Planning Education: How Important is Having a Good Teacher?

 As students have been choosing classes over the last year, one question I’ve received is: how important is the teacher vs. the subject matter? In general, I argue, your own attitude is the most important factor in how well you learn. However, truly terrible teaching can make that more difficult and truly wonderful teaching can change your life for the better.

Planning Processes: Some Resources

Over the last six months some of my blog entries have highlighted plans and places. This month I turn to processes that are important in planning. This is a bit trickier than plans and places as the web presence of processes tends to be dominated by project examples and how-to instructions. It’s also hard from the web to get a sense of how processes have developed over time—for example what passes as rational comprehensive planning today, complete with numerous participatory processes and evaluation strategies, is quite different from the much criticized technical model of the 1950s and 1960s. Of course that’s a good reason to go to planning school.

Planning Faculty Blogs

One of my first posts back in 2007 dealt with planning faculty blogs (see http://www.planetizen.com/node/24748). 

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