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Introduction to City Planning 4: Planning in the Postmodern Age (1980-Today)

This course surveys the key economic, environmental, sociopolitical, and technological shifts responsible for the evolution of contemporary planning from 1980 to contemporary times. Assessing historical planning movements through a critical lens, course instructor Jason Luger discusses the relevance of past successes and failures for cities today.

  • English
  • 74 Mins
  • Published
What You Will Learn
  • Understand the evolution of contemporary planning by comparing previous movements and the origins of modern design, social reform, policies, and politics. 
  • Identify key global shifts in the cultural, economic, political, and industrial relationships and hierarchies between and across different cities. 
  • Recognize how city planning as a discipline emerged from the ideas of writers, politicians, architects, designers, and social reformers. 
  • Compare and contrast the ways that technology and innovations change cities and the way planners must plan for cities, from the aqueduct to the railroad and the automobile. 
  • Critically evaluate how historical planning movements were successful (and we still borrow from them) but also how they failed, and how and why some cities rose and fell over time (and the relevance for cities today). 
  • Recognize and assess the relationships between planning, the economy, politics and society—the way that industrial innovation gave rise to revolutions and transformative social movements, and make links to the contemporary urban world. 

Massive global shifts of the late 1970s and 1980s represented a turning point for city planning. Since the 1980s, the move from modernism to postmodernism has transformed ideas about how best to approach cities and city planning, including ideas about the role of the state and the public sector in planning. Cities would increasingly re-shape around the flows of modern capital, creating space for finance, tourism, and services, especially in the post-industrial Global North. Meanwhile, in the Global South, the growth of some massive cities has outpaced previously dominant urban landscapes by offering a vision for the future that includes the rise of the ‘Network Society’ and the integration of ‘smart city’ technology into the daily life and urban fabric of cities.

This course raises questions about privacy, surveillance, and which aspects of cities might become obsolete in the age of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence. In the neoliberal age, cities compete harder than ever, sometimes for the same type of investment, and economic development in some ways replaces planning as a dominant field. Reactions against urban austerity and the shift toward privatization have resulted in radical shifts after the Great Recession, as activism has once again forged a central role in urban planning and ‘the community’ has again emerged as a crucial scale for decisions.


This course is approved for 1.25 AICP CM credit


This course is approved for 1 CNU-A credit.