|Planners are getting jobs that did not exist a decade ago or jobs that were |
not considered to be part of the planning discipline, for example: writing
climate change policy for a local authority, assessing development loans
for property developers, finding sites for hard infrastructure of energy
companies (Coiacetto, Jones, & Jackson, 2011). Recent planning education
literature also suggests that planning schools are failing to adequately
equip students for the roles they will undertake in practice. One symptom
of the hiatus between curriculum and practice is the leakage of talented
professionals to other fields of employment.
It is therefore not surprising that there is an ongoing debate in Australia
about what should be taught in planning schools and the core skills
planners require (Budge 2009; Hamnett, 1999 cited by Miller et al.,2011).
So, how should planning schools decide where the emphasis should lie in
their programs when both the breadth and depth of the planning profession
continue to change as the profession responds to the needs of urban and
regional communities in an ever-changing world? And, what priorities should
be given to: technical planning skills (e.g. statutory knowledge, strategic
planning and urban design skills, computerised modelling); to the ‘softer’
non-technical generic skills (e.g. communication, conflict resolution,
project management, leadership); to the emerging fields (e.g. social
planning, economic planning, transport planning); and to the wicked
problems such as climate change, population growth, sustainability, and
food security (Budge 2009, Hurlimann 2009 cited by Miller et al., 2011)?
Some authors (Baum, et al., 2010; Miller, et al., 2011) have suggested that
when deciding what to include in their degree programs, planning schools
should start with the question: What knowledge, skills and abilities do
planning graduates need to pursue a rewarding and successful career as a
planning practitioner? This paper describes how the simple, but elegant,
Define Your Discipline (DYD) Stakeholder Consultation Process (Dowling and
Hadgraft 2013a) was used during a Planning Institute Australia (PIA)
sponsored pilot study in Queensland to answer that question.
The DYD Process is an efficient, effective, and inclusive consultation
process that can be used by a discipline to define a Graduate Capability
Framework for a program in their discipline. It is designed to capture the
views of all relevant stakeholders (such as practitioners, recent
graduates, and academics) about the tasks a graduate will undertake in
their first few years of practice. Since 2010 the DYD Process has been used
to define Capability Frameworks in six disciplines and at two different
program levels, for example environmental engineering (Dowling and Hadgraft
2013b). A common, but unexpected, feature of the Capability Frameworks
developed to date is the importance of Process Capabilities, such as
investigation, development assessment and design, in the practice of a
discipline. Consequently, Process Capabilities have been included as one of
the four dimensions of the Frameworks, which are: Generic Capabilities;
Process Capabilities; Technical Capabilities; and Practice Contexts.
During 2012, the DYD Process was used to develop a draft Graduate
Capability Framework for planning degree programs. The capabilities were
based on data gathered during six DYD Workshops: three in Brisbane, two in
Toowoomba and one in Cairns at the PIA Queensland Conference. Forty two
people participated in the study and more than six hundred data sets were
gathered. The paper reports on the results of the consultations, the
development of the draft Graduate Capability Framework, and how the
Framework may be used to inform the review of program curriculum.
An interim report (Dowling & Basson, 2013) on the pilot study has been
forwarded to PIA recommending that the DYD Planning Project should be
extended so that it becomes a national study.