What should we teach people who want to be urban planners?
This is a recurring question in our planning department. This year we intend to upgrade our graduate professional MA program and to make our graduates highly competitive. This has become a particularly pressing issue since 3 of our colleagues retired this year and there are several universities that intend to compete with our program. What should be the profile of the replacement faculty members?
I admit that I am prejudiced concerning the answer to this question. The terms that come to mind are excellence and product differentiation. While some colleagues propose that we provide our students with a taste of all disciplinary approaches and others think that we should have courses concerned with current issues, I propose to enhance as much as possible the toolkit with which our graduates will face their professional world – GIS, statistics, economics, law…
If we wish to make our product competitive, we need to give more than other departments of some of these tools. This will have to come at the expense of something. I propose that we produce technical specialists.
Since many of our students have a geography BA degree, they will find it difficult to handle a rigorous stats, econ and law curriculum. I propose to reduce the number of students and to increase the quality of the incoming class.