"Planners, to appropriate the sociologist's C. Wright Mills language, translate personal troubles into public issues. Moreover, they help individuals and communities communicate and develop visions for the future based upon shared interests, values, and norms. In a time and place where the prospect of the future seems uncertain, unsettling and even frightening at times, the expertise that planners bring is needed more than ever. In this context, a perfect storm of factors is contributing to an auspicious growth for the field."
Tiell sums up some recent academic thought on approaches to community involvement, as well as the market for planning PhDs.