The project begins from an extremely personal perspective – that of the autobiographical experiential narrative – to tell a much broader story about the way that ideas in planning have evolved, developed, circulated and moved through time and space. Autobiographical accounts used to be considered problematic in the frame of traditional research approaches. However, through working with embodied minds, autobiographical accounts are now considered one of the most promising methods within the framework of contemporary epistemologies.
Using these accounts to review the changes to the field of planning over time, an inter-generational dialogue can begin by highlighting the evolution of major ideas and key concepts in planning research to stimulate future generations to contribute to the field in new and exciting ways. Through matching first- and third- person reflections on the key planning ideas developed in the last decades, The Evolution of Planning Thought project sets out a comprehensive, intellectual, institutional and practical agenda for the discipline of academic planning as it heads towards the next half century.
This approach has a highly innovative scientific value, since it reflects the growing interest that academia is showing toward autobiography as an important way to catch the fundamental link between established theories and ideas and the historic and geographic context that has generated them. Such an interest reflects the most recent epistemological innovations in both social and hard sciences (respectively post-modern and complexity theory), which inevitably look at ‘scholars’ as ‘embodied minds’ who are always deeply connected with the environment they interact with as scholars and scientists.