PLAN 346: Advanced Planning Tools - Public Participation, Negotiation and Mediation





Planning is a process of decision-making about the future. While it does involve technical studies and regulatory frameworks, planning is first and foremost a process of gathering and negotiating multiple, and frequently competing, visions, interests and values. As conveners and facilitators of this process, planners must contend with varied understandings and interpretations of issues, as well as growing polarization and power imbalances amongst members of the public. Furthermore, planners are not neutral parties; they also hold their own values and beliefs about the most appropriate course of action. And, yet, they also have the professional responsibility to “practice in a manner that respects the diversity, needs, values and aspirations of the public and encourages discussion on these matters” (CIP 2016, section 1.1)

Planners must, therefore, hone their ability to analyze and empathize with the interests of different ‘publics’. They must also develop a comprehensive toolkit for soliciting input in both large and small group settings, while also learning to build consensus, negotiate solutions, and engage in “persuasive storytelling” about the possibilities for the future. This course seeks to develop these skills. It also introduces students to the many challenging issues that frame the theory and practice of public participation.

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