Learning from Urban Planning Practices

  • Date November 30, 2015
  • Hour From 10.30 am to 1 pm
  • Room GSSI Main Lecture Hall
  • Speaker many speakers
  • Area Social Sciences


  • John Forester (Cornell University)
  • Daniela De Leo (University "La Sapienza" of Rome)


JOHN F. FORESTER was educated at the University of California, Berkeley. He completed a Master of City Planning in 1974, and a PhD in 1977, also at the University of California. His continued academic interest in planning led to his 1985 edited collection, Critical Theory and Public Life (MIT Press), and later works Planning in the Face of Power (1989, University of California Press), The Deliberative Practitioner (1999, MIT Press) and Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes (2009, Oxford UP). In 1990 he co-authored, with Norman Krumholz, “Making Equity Planning Work: Leadership in the Public Sector” (Temple University Press).

DANIELA DE LEO is a tenured researcher and Assistant professor in Urban Planning at Sapienza University in Rome. Her current research focuses on conflicts as fields in which some important challenges for the Urban Planning theories and practices are faced. Moreover, she has conducted and coordinated some research activities abroad such in Nablus, in East Jerusalem, in Beirut, but also at the MIT, UoT, British Columbia and ULBruxelles.


Based on recent research in Italy and four books on practice studies since 2009, Forester argues that carefully co-generated “profiles of practitioners”—first person voice, practice-focused oral histories—can make significant contributions to undergraduate and graduate education alike, in both urban studies and professional planning programs. These institutionally rich, practically situated profiles illuminate and open up for further study and analysis adept practices not only in theory but in contemporary practice in socially complex, administratively ambiguous, politically contentious, and pragmatically difficult situations. Based upon joint research with diverse Italian planning professionals in community and regional settings, Forester and De Leo explore the practical implications of this different research approach to learning from diverse urban planning practices, and they will discuss tentative findings related to issues of appropriate and inappropriate uses of expertise, relationships of insiders and outsiders, better and worse processes of public participation and possibilities of joint problem solving and mediated negotiations.