Planning Studies Centre
Conferences and Seminars

italian version

The "First World-Wide Conference on Planning Science"
Palermo September 8th - 11th 1992


Sponsored by the UN University (Tokyo), the European University Institute (Florence), UNESCO (The Regional Office for Science and Technology for Europe).
Financial support was also assured by the Italian National Research Council and by Regione Siciliana.

The Planning Studies Centre, together with a considerable amount of scholars from various different planning disciplines and activities, has arrived at the conviction that the time has come to deal with the conventional and obvious issue of adapting institutions to the new needs of planners. The danger is that despite the best of intentions the result will rather be planners adapting to institutions a result we seem to have achieved long ago. Perhaps it is time that we concern ourselves with making sure that the methodology of planning is consolidated theoretically and technically, which at the present moment we have far from achieved

This is the spirit in which the initiative of the Planning Studies Centre to launch a series of periodical academic and scientific conferences on the "planning sciences" was born. The idea was to gather people whose paths have crossed time and again during a lifetime of academic planning-related research, to examine and evaluate the opportunities for regular meetings of this kind in order to address the question of a "neo-disciplinary" approach to the problems of planning.

In a preparatory document, which was submitted to a group of colleagues as the " Terms of Reference " for a proposed series of meetings, the emergence of a planological approach was evoked, i.e. an integrated, unified approach to planning. This would comprise the different schools of thought and research that have sprung from the academic fields of economics, political science, sociology, public administration, urban studies, ecology etc. over the last four decades.

Thus arose the idea of a brainstorming session on these problems in general. This took place in Rome in October 1991 and was organised by the Planning Studies Centre. The participants at this meeting came from a range of disciplines, and the opinions aired were by no means all convergent. Yet there was general agreement on one point: the expediency of increasing multi-disciplinary exchanges on the subject and to proceed with further meetings. The session concluded that the theme of the first World-Wide Conference on Planning Science should be the Relationships between Planning Technologies and Planning Institutions . The participants were to be selected and invited, moreover, upon suggestions from participants of the Rome meeting and new invitees.

This "First World-Wide Conference on Planning Science" took place in Palermo on September 8th - 11th 1992 and was sponsored by the UN University (Tokyo), the European University Institute (Florence) and UNESCO (The Regional Office for Science and Technology for Europe). The Italian National Research Council also assured financial support.

The brainstorming session laid down a set of terms of reference for the subsequent Conference. This was considered a two-dimensional grid within which the conference papers should be located, the two dimensions being the planning technologies and institutions referred to in its title, and the territorial dimension. Beyond this strict guidelines were not laid down, and invitees were asked to choose the topics of their papers freely, although special attention was encouraged to the problems of ex-communist states and developing countries .

A short glossary of terms was laid down in order to ensure conceptual clarity:

"planning" refers to the construction of plans as well as their application, implementation, management and review, in any field in which this is practised. It is this in its entirety that makes up the "science of planning" (planology);

"technology" refers to both theories and methodologies of planning, on the one hand, and its techniques and procedures on the other;

"institutions" refers to actual institutions as they exist and are structured in the real world, as well as how they should be conceived and designed to facilitate the planning process;

"territorial scale" refers to three preferred levels: a) global, b) multi-national and national, and c) sub-national.

The Conference took place over four days, three of which were dedicated to the presentation and discussion of about fifty papers by as many participants. The fourth day was dedicated to actual current planning, the cases being the Sicilian Region's Regional Development Plan and spatial planning at the European Community level, Europa 2000. The set of papers for discussion was divided into six half-day sessions, in which the presenters gave brief ten-minute presentations, after which a general debate and specific questions followed. At the close of the third day the issue of the need for and possibility of establishing a new international planners' association was discussed (Conference Programme).

Some information on the development of the Conference, its organisation , its participants and its results can be obtained in a Post-Conference Note (in pdf format) prepared by the Planning Studies Centre. Moreover, the papers discussed (see here their abstracts in pdf) and certain conclusions of the Conference (see Towards an International Organisation for the Advancement of Planning Science') are also available.

Recently the Centre has decided to publish the papers as presented at the conference in their original paper format, only in a limited number of copies and without any overhead costs, just for the possible use of laypeople and in order not to waste an asset of works which still have their value and topicality (see here the preface to this edition). The mentioned edition is in three volumes, corresponding to the general themes to which the three days of the Conference were dedicated:

1. Global and Multinational Insights,

2. Methodological Insights,

3. Institutional Insights.

Furthermore, it bears the general title of the Conference itself: Planning techniques and Planning Institutions (see index of papers included in the edition).
See photo



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