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Title:Our Uncertain Future: Can Good Planning Create Sustainable Communities
Author(s):Finn, Donovan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hopkins, Lewis D.
Department / Program:Urban and Regional Planning
Discipline:Urban and Regional Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This project examines how local urban planning practice has been influenced by the concept of sustainability -- currently defined as a balance among economic, environmental and social equity concerns in planning and decision-making -- by investigating how successful planners have been in assimilating principles of sustainability into "good planning" practice. Given the specific structural constraints within which local planners operate, the research seeks to illuminate the barriers to adopting sustainability as a model for practice. Qualitative research methods are used to analyze two cases of local planning in depth: a two-year community visioning project known as Big Small Ail Champaign County facilitated by the county's Regional Planning Commission, and a half-decade process to redevelop a vacant parcel in central Champaign, the former site of the Burnham Hospital. Using actions of local planners as the units of analysis, this project evaluates the degree to which the concept of sustainability has moved beyond merely justifying more planning to actually influencing the ways in which practicing planners act and make decisions. The analysis focuses on observable actions and planners' abilities to influence decisions within the local political economy, and investigates to what degree the principles of sustainability are currently ingrained in local planning practice. Contrasting observed actions with theoretical constructs of sustainability from the literature, the research finds that contemporary planning largely fails to usefully engage the salient conflicts that currently hinder the adoption of sustainability principles more broadly. The outsized influence of economic forces continues to constrain local planning, with current best practice tools such as boilerplate participation processes and physical development projects providing only vague "trickle-down" benefits to the social and environmental aspects of sustainability. The dissertation argues that re-framing the concept of sustainability planning to focus on, embrace and harness the conflicts inherent in development may be a more useful approach to local decision-making than continuing to seek a balance among three distinct and often opposed sets of needs.
Issue Date:2009
Description:203 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3362782
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2009

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