Urban Planning in a Multicultural Society

By Michael A. Burayidi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
Some Thoughts on Incorporating Multiculturalism in Urban Design Education

Siddhartha Sen

Incorporating issues of multiculturalism in planning curriculums have become an important goal for planning educators in recent times ( Friedmann and Kuester 1994; Thomas 1996). Multicultural issues can be broadly defined as ones that deal with race, gender, ethnicity, and internationalism. 1 The origins of multiculturalism date back to the late 1960s and early 1970s in the field of education, when the term primarily referred to introduction of diverse cultures that had been underrepresented or omitted in school curricula ( Banks 1984). The term has since then been broadened to refer to ethnic, racial, social, and gender groups as well as groups with special needs ( Hernandez 1989). The concept also includes empowerment of students from diverse cultures and classes ( Banks 1994).

The concept of multiculturalism in planning is comparatively new. Until the 1960s "monocultural" physical planning was the bulwark of planning education. Although one cannot deny that concerns with race, justice, advocacy, and equality did enter planning education since the 1960s ( Davidoff 1965; Davidoff, Davidoff, and Gold 1970), serious challenge to the monocultural planning pedagogy was first posed in the mid-1980s by the group of scholars who questioned the relevancy of U.S. planning education for students from developing nations ( Banerjee 1985; Quadeer 1986). Later on other internationalists ( Amirahmadi 1993; Sanyal 1989, 1990), interjected fresh thinking into the issue by proposing a "one world approach to planning education." This approach to planning education emphasized mutual learning process by bringing together students from the first and third world on common problems. With global restructuring, the first world could learn from the problems that were typically associated with the third world (e.g., homelessness and the informal sector). Such a perspective called for incorporation of an interdisciplinary multicultural and global outlook in planning education that would allow for better local practice and cultural diversity.

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