Lecture: John Forester
Complexity and Practical Improvisation in Planning: Lessons from Three Cases
John Forester, Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, earned his B.S. and M.S.M.E. degrees (1970, 1971) before his M.C.P. and Ph.D. in planning (1974, 1977) at U.C. Berkeley. Forester's early work assessed the micro-politics of planning practices before going on to explore these concerns via a Studs Terkel-like approach, collecting and analyzing practice-focused, first person voice "profiles of practitioners." More recently, Forester has studied the ways planners working in contentious settings could learn from mediators of public disputes. Working in-between parties with conflicting interests and values, and ample anger, distrust and fear, experienced mediators can provide planners with wise practical advice (that can be theoretically interesting too). This work includes Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes (2009) and Planning in the Face of Conflict (2013). Forester’s current projects involve post-Katrina New Orleans (with Ken Reardon), street level governance (with David Laws), placemaker profiles, and the challenges of improvisation in planning.