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Ralph Blessing / Mary Rocco: "Postfordist Urbanism and the Changes in Academic Planning"

The 1970s saw a paradigmatic change in planning, from technocratic, large scale planning in the vein of Robert Moses to small planning on a neighborhood level inspired by Jane Jacobs, this revolution influenced the research and teaching of planning at American colleges. Based on the analysis of the curricula of planning schools in the New York City metropolitan region from the 1960s and 1970s, we examine, if and how academic planning changed during this period. We will study, if these changes occurred in a short period of time or as an evolutionary process and how the different institutions handled the dramatic break in planning theory and practice. What were the new contents of planning education and what, if any, contents were dropped? What was the rationale for the changes? We will attempt to analyze if academia was leaning towards the new orientation of urbanism or if it followed practitioners or outsiders, such as Jane Jacobs and other activists. In a larger context, this contribution will explore the relationship between theory and practice in urban planning. The research will be based on curricula and other accreditation material submitted to American Planning Association and additional materials from the schools themselves. 

About the Authors

Ralph Blessing has a doctorate in Western European History from Humboldt University in Berlin and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College. He currently works at the New York City Department of City Planning. His research interests include, comparative international urbanism and institutional history.
Mary Rocco is a Master’s of Urban Planning candidate at Hunter College. Her research interests include the connections between political participation and arts in the city and academic planning curriculum development. 

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