Cutting Edge Research and Teaching Award

Congratulations to Alan March on his recent Planning Excellence Award for Cutting Edge Research and Teaching, awarded to Alan for his book, The Democratic Plan: Analysis and Diagnosis.

The prize was awarded at the Planning Excellence 2013 Victorian Awards hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

PIA have described Alan's book as "an outstanding contribution to  planning research."

In his book, Alan uses the past 15 years in Victoria's urban planning history as a practical case study showing positive pathways for change. Referencing the work of Jurgen Habermas', Alan proposes valuable new conceptual tools which are then tested on applied research into an Australian planning system.

The basis for Alan’s research arose from the shortcomings of urban planning in meeting our expectations and it offers positive directions for improvement.

“Even while we know there are better ways of organising our cities and settlements, it is so often the case that these choices are not taken,” Alan says. “Apparently well-resourced and intelligent individuals and groups of people, in local councils, cities and regions commonly fail to forge collective directions that are truly sustainable, prosperous and fair.”

According to the PIA, He (Alan) tackles the inherent difficulties faced by planning within liberal democracies, where it is a key aspect of the wider function of governance and control, a technical and prossional exercise, and also one with popular conrol and input as well as individual aspirations. In tackling this dilemma he seeks to understand why planning practice can seem to readily fall short of expectations, noting the conflicting approaches and variable governmnent settlings and the eroding impact these have on the goals and outcomes sought from good planning.

Alan explores the concept of 'knowing and steering', providing an effective methodology for analysing planning systems that could be applied to democratic systems around the world, and tests this approach on the Victorian system. He uses the idea of antinomy to illustrate trade-offs, re-visits communicative planning and the concept of mediatisation as impediments to the process.

In presenting his work he has produced a research document that is in clear and accessible style. It is comprehensive covering a wide breadth of issues. It is useful to both pracitioners and theorists. Alan March has made a noteworthy achievement in planning research and is worthy recipient of an Award for Planning Excellence.

The Democratic Plan: Analysis and Diagnosis was launched by Vice Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis on 31 January 2013.

Professor Glyn Davis described the book as an example of research effectively meeting the world of the disciplines and addressing important issues.

“Scholarly and impassioned, The Democratic Process: Analysis and Diagnosis is written by an author who cares deeply and wants to make real and positive change,” Professor Davis said. “Alan cares about policy and highlights the importance of linking research with practice.”