UCL Urban Laboratory


Teaching international comparative planning systems and cultures in a 'global' university

This paper will be based on the authors' experience of directing, and teaching on, the MSc in International Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. This programme was created a decade ago out of the need to set up an 'internationally focused' sister programme to the long-established, UK focused, MSc in Spatial Planning. Over the past years, the curriculum of the MSc was modified to strengthen its "international" orientation and reflect the changing demands and expectations of its highly diverse, international student body. The paper will review the approaches taken in UK Schools of Planning with regard to the teaching of international comparative planning modules, including the approach taken at the Bartlett School at UCL. We will reflect on the opportunities, difficulties and challenges which educators and students are confronted with, when engaging with comparative planning, paying particular attention to:

- The definition and scope of what is "international" in the context of the increasingly blurred boundaries, yet remaining differences, between planning challenges and practices in cities of the global North and South;
- The challenge of teaching a critical and comparative approach to planning systems, cultures and practices without falling into normative claims about the superiority of certain models over others;
- The relationship between the curriculum and the different international experiences and cultural backgrounds of students;
- The critical and ethical challenges arising from the university's and the students' potential and actual contribution to the production and international circulation of urban planning knowledge in the context of urban and global inequalities.

15 minute paper by Susan Moore (UCL) and Claire Colomb (UCL). 

Session two (parallel panel two): 14.00 - 16.00, Thursday 17 September, Darwin Building B12/B15. 

Image: Gaze on the foreign city: international planning project and field trip, Barcelona 2013.


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