Summer Reading about Planning: The Basics

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:

2 minute read

May 28, 2008, 7:22 AM PDT

By Ann Forsyth


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:

The Planetizen top 20 planning books is a solid introductory
list of interesting and accessible books identified through nominations by Planetizen
readers and others: http://www.planetizen.com/books/20

The planners web list for citizen planners is the result of a 1999 survey by
the Planning Commissioners Journal and is also focused on popular and readable
books:
http://www.plannersweb.com/books/book-recs1.html

The Disorientation Guide is a manual published by Planners
Network but written for students by students. Available as a downloadable PDF
it provides a list of media resources including a large number of books,
typically with a critical edge. Go to http://www.plannersnetwork.org/publications/disorientation.html,
download the guide, and go to pages 13-15.

Finally, all the lists above are focused on general issues
in planning but for those interested in a specific topic there is another kind
of source. Many planning faculty post syllabi on the web and each one contains
readings selected for relevance. Googling "urban planning syllabus" or
"planning class" plus a keyword can lead you to these very useful resources. I particularly
like the urban studies and planning section of the MIT Open Courseware site at http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Urban-Studies-and-Planning/index.htm

Ann Forsyth reads
several hundred articles and books in planning each year and will provide more
resources for reading about planning in upcoming months.


Ann Forsyth

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth is a professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. From 2007-2012 she was a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell. She taught previously at at the University of Minnesota, directing the Metropolitan Design Center (2002-2007), Harvard (1999-2002), and the University of Massachusetts (1993-1999) where she was co-director of a small community design center, the Urban Places Project. She has held short-term positions at Columbia, Macquarie, and Sydney Universities.

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