1st Edition

Reflective Planning Practice Theory, Cases, and Methods

By Richard Willson Copyright 2021
    368 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    368 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Reflective Planning Practice: Theory, Cases, and Methods uses structured, first-person reflection to reveal the artistry of planning practice. The value of professional reflection is widely recognized, but there is a difference between acknowledging it and doing it. This book takes up that challenge, providing planners’ reflections on past practice as well as prompts for reflecting in the midst of planning episodes. It explains a reflection framework and employs it in seven case studies written by planning educators who also practice. The cases reveal practical judgments made during the planning episode and takeaways for practice, as the planners used logic and emotion, and applied convention and invention. The practical judgments are explained from the perspective of the authors’ personal experiences, purposes, and professional style, and their interpretation of the rich context that underpins the cases including theories, sociopolitical aspects, workplace setting, and roles. The book seeks to awaken students and practitioners to the opportunities of a pragmatic, reflective approach to planning practice.

    Chapter 1. A Roadmap for Reflective Practice

    Chapter 2. What We Know about Planning, Theory, and Reflection

    Chapter 3. Planner-as-Person

    Chapter 4. Context for Planning

    Chapter 5. The Planning Episode

    Chapter 6. Creating a Climate Action Plan at Cal Poly Pomona

    Chapter 7. Planning for Resilience: Preparing Resilient Planners in Mamallapuram, India. By Laxmi Ramasubramanian

    Chapter 8. Equity Planning When the Rubber Meets the Road: Adopting Inclusionary Housing Policies in Portland, OR. By Lisa Bates

    Chapter 9. Miami 21 Form-Based Code, Miami FL By Ana Gelabert-Sánchez

    Chapter 10. Parking Management Strategy in Dana Point, CA

    Chapter 11. Bringing Fresh Produce to Inner-City Stores in Detroit, MI By Kameshwari Pothukuchi

    Chapter 12. Green Line Mixed-Use Project Specific Plan in Hawthorne, CA

    Chapter 13: Case Comparisons and Reflection Initiatives

    Chapter 14. Methods and Prompts for Reflection

    Chapter 15. Building Your Reflective Practice


    Richard Willson is Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). Over his career he has worked to link planning scholarship and practice. Dr. Willson is the author of A Guide for the Idealist: Launching and Navigating Your Planning Career (2018) and extends this interest to the  American Planning Association Blog Series, Launching Your Planning Career: A Guide for Idealists. Dr. Willson is also an expert on transportation planning, parking supply and management, and climate change planning. His 2013 book Parking Reform Made Easy provides a method for reforming minimum parking requirements. Parking Management for Smart Growth (2015) provides a strategic approach to parking management in the context of a sharing economy. Dr. Willson began his planning career as a practitioner and maintains a transportation consulting practice with regional agencies, local cities, and developers of urban infill projects.



    "Willson brings heart and wisdom to his inquiry into the skills and sensibilities necessary for a truly reflective planning practice. He offers an original framework for reflection, derived from well-chosen first-person accounts by practitioners. An immensely valuable text for students, novices and seasoned planners alike."

    Leonie Sandercock, Professor in Community Planning, University of British Columbia

    "Willson challenges us to embrace reflection and incorporate this practice into our everyday work life. Using his experience, both in academia and professional practice, he builds a case that planning is rooted in observation and reflection. He accomplishes this by using a series of case studies that allows the reader to see how experience and context shape judgement. We can learn more about our profession and ourselves by looking both inward and outward, using the practice of reflection."

    Kurt Christiansen, FAICP, President, American Planning Association

    "My colleague, Donald Schon, would have been delighted to see how carefully Richard Willson has expanded the idea of reflective practice. Drawing on seven cases, Willson has conducted a learning experiment to better understand how to empower reflective planners. He offers a conceptual framework which goes beyond Schon’s description of double loop learning by highlighting how emotions, intellect and moral values come together in making practical judgments in an uncertain and contentious world." 

    Bish Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development & Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    "Students and practitioners of spatial planning take heart. Richard Willson and some talented compatriots show how practical judgment shapes the plans we make. Truly comparative cases offer useful insights about the conduct of our craft. We can learn to anticipate and invent the future together in many ways. Must read for practitioners and students of spatial planning."

    Charles Hoch, Urban Planner and Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago

    "This book helps us understand the grounded complexity of planners’ work; it will stimulate debate about refining planners’ reflective practices and their deliberative practices too."

    John Forester, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

    "For planners, moving from naiveté to novice to expert requires experience. The challenge is how to mimic that in the classroom so students gain experience, but within low stakes environments. This book’s framework, cases, and reflection techniques get students’ feet wet with the ‘swampy lowlands’ of planning practice, minus the crocodiles."

    Bonnie J. Johnson, FAICP, Director/Associate Professor, Urban Planning Program, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas

    "Rick Willson has written a thoughtful, engaging and practical book that guides the reader to understand planning in a manner that incorporates past and current thought as well as the realities of complex practice situations. This book is useful for planning theory courses, studios and practice-based seminars as well as for practitioners who seek greater insight and effectiveness in their work."

    Barry Nocks, Professor Emeritus and Lecturer, City & Regional Planning Program, Clemson University

    "Planning depends on a public process of reflection, and, as Reflective Planning Practice makes clear, individual planners will flourish when they reflect effectively. Reflective Planning Practice expects the planning excellence required of the 21st century, and reveals useful tools for planners to achieve ambitious goals."

    James Brasuell, Manager Editor, Planetizen

    Chris Steins, Founder, Planetizen