The Future of Planning Education: A Public Symposium Celebrating 60 Years of Planning Education, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 2009

Article excerpt

Australia's first course in planning, a Graduate Diploma in Town Planning, commenced in Adelaide on 14 February 1949 at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries (School of Mines), a predecessor institution of the University of South Australia (UniSA), which was established in 1991.1 Planning courses began in other states soon after, first at the University of Sydney and then at the University of Melbourne.

The emergence of the planning education course in South Australia coincided with a period of significant post-war metropolitan and rural expansion and a related boom in the housing and construction industry. However, the state had been without effective planning legislation or qualified planners since the late 1920s and when World War II ended, it was also without metropolitan and regional plans to guide its future development. Through the initiative of the South Australian Institute of Architects, the Town Planning Institute of South Australia (TPISA) was inaugurated in 1948 and lobbied strenuously, along with other professionals and concerned citizens, for a master plan for Adelaide and for new planning legislation.

Perhaps fortuitously for the TPISA and the town planning cause generally, not long after the Institute emerged, Professor Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Professor of Town Planning at University College London, visited South Australia as part of a British Council-sponsored tour of Australia. In addition to supporting local moves to raise government and public consciousness about the need for town planning, Abercrombie encouraged the establishment in Adelaide of a professional course in planning. Consequently, following enquiries by TPISA Council member, Gavin Walkley (Sullivan, 2008), an architect closely involved in the architecture discipline at the School of Mines, a two-year, six-subject postgraduate planning course was developed in keeping with that offered by the Town Planning Institute in Britain. The new course was taught and administered through the School of Architecture, with Walkley lecturing on the History of Town Planning and steering its development during the 25 years that he was Head of School (1951-76). The first undergraduate course was made available in 1965, by which time the School of Mines had become the South Australian Institute of Technology.

In 2009, planning is co-located with disciplines including building, construction, civil engineering, geospatial and environmental management in UniSA's School of the Natural and Built Environments within the Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment.2 Its home is still in the Bonython Jubilee building (City East campus) where the planning course was first taught. Enrolments in the postgraduate and undergraduate planning programmes continue to grow, and local demand for planners remains high.

The 60 years symposium

The one-day symposium held on 13 February 2009 on the theme of 'The Future of Planning Education' provided a starting point for a year-long programme of activities celebrating '60 Years of Planning Education' at UniSA. Timed to coincide as closely as possible with the date of the first planning lecture at the School of Mines, the symposium was held in the Basil Hetzel lecture theatre (City East campus), one of a number of new buildings constructed by the University in recent years. The symposium, a free public event, was attended by about 150 people including academics in planning and the built environment disciplines, alumni of the South Australian planning programme, planning practitioners, undergraduate and postgraduate students and members of the National Education Committee of the Planning Institute of Australia. Most participants were from South Australia. However, some came from interstate and a few visited from New Zealand and also South Africa.

UniSA's Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, Professor Peter Lee, welcomed the attendees and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at UniSA, Stephen Hamnett, introduced the programme with a short overview of the background to the foundation of the first planning course in South Australia. …