For APA Board Director, Region 2
Bruce Stiftel, FAICP
Professor Emeritus, School Chair, Professor. Georgia Tech, School of City and Regional Planning, 2008-present.
Associate Dean, Professor, Department Chair, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor. Florida State University, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, 1983-2008.
APA Experience (selected):
Education Sub-committee chair (2019-20), vice-chair (2018-19), and assistant vice chair (2017-18), National Planning Conference Committee
Co-chair, Academic Membership Task Force, 2016-18.
Member, Student and New Planner Task Force, 2015-17.
Higher Education Representative, Executive Committee, Georgia Chapter, 2015-17.
Co-chair, Local Program Sub-committee, APA 2014 National Conference, Atlanta.
Member, Planning Accreditation Board, 2009-2015.
Universities Representative, Executive Committee, Florida Chapter, 1997-2000; 2004-2006.
Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of the American Planning Association, 1987-94; 2006-present.
Community Involvement (selected):
Member, Expert Group on International Guidelines for Urban and Territorial Planning, UN-Habitat, 2013-16.
Member, Steering Committee, University Network Initiative, UN-Habitat, 2012-present.
Reviews Editor. Planning Theory, 2005-13.
Founding chairperson. Global Planning Education Association Network, 2002-2003.
President, Vice President, Past President. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, 1999-2001.
Editor (joint with Charles Connerly), Journal of Planning Education and Research, 1991-6.
Ph.D., City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1986.
Master of Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981.
B.S., Biology and Environmental Studies, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1975.
I seek to advance APA's global planning engagement, efforts to position planning as the urban profession, and promotion of quality practice-relevant research.
U.S. planners have a responsibility to respond to the pressing issues of rapid urbanization, climate change, immigration and other global development concerns. Most U.S. emerging planners expect to work overseas in their careers. Many of the best new planning ideas originate outside the USA. It is now impossible to be the best US planners if we do not work with and hear from planners around the world. Yet, APA is probably the most isolated of the major nation professional planners' organizations. I will work to internationalize our conferences; seek partnerships and exchanges with professional planners' organizations in other countries, both rich and poor; and engage with major international planning organizations such as the U.N., World Bank, regional development banks, and key international civil society organizations.
Planners no longer own urban policy. Sustainability professionals, development economists, and city managers now work alongside planners and often supplant us in new departments. Traditional fields such as architecture, civil engineering, geography, public policy and sociology have discovered "urban" and compete with us for recognition and leadership in cities and regions. We have been too passive in responding to this competition. APA should be working prominently to help planners position themselves as the respected urban profession through policy advocacy, communication leadership, publication and tactical training.
Research is vital to the future of planning, yet with notable exceptions, APA has been content to leave research concerns to others. PAB, JAPA, PAS and FutureShape show us that when we engage research we can make a profound difference. We should be systematically articulating the research needs of our profession, campaigning to identify and channel significant resources into advancing planning knowledge, recognizing research that best advances practice, and working creatively to put the best knowledge in the hands of practicing planners.
What do you believe is the most important member service APA provides? Why? How would you propose strengthening this and other member services?
Knowledge sharing is APA's most impactful service. This happens through conferences, publications, and research. This work is vital because planning is in constant flux both as a result of innovation and development and in response to technological and political changes. In each aspect we can improve.
Our conferences now do well at education, sharing what we already know. They do less well as places where we imagine new futures and formulate new strategies. New more interactive conference session formats will help, but we should also offer opportunities to link conferees with APA policy development and advocacy.
Our publication program should be more ambitious; we should be the go-to place for planners and others to learn about successful and emerging urban/regional policy development and design. We should restore APA Planners Bookstore. We should broker members' access to the full range of relevant journals so that paywalls don't limit planners' access to current thinking. The APA web site search engine should be revised so that it is much more useful in connecting us with what we already know.
Our research program should be more outward looking. APA's own research work is important, but APA should also be facilitating and supporting the national community of planning researchers to help them understand and work on problems planners care about and to develop resources that make the work possible.
How could APA improve and strengthen the relationship among APA and its components (AICP, Chapters, Divisions, SRC)?
First and foremost this is an issue of how we view the various components of our complex organization as parts of the whole. The One APA framework has served well to get us thinking toward a common mission, but in the process we may have lost sight of the need of AICP, chapters, and divisions to develop their own reputations and initiatives and the value of staff work in support of these programs.
I believe divisions and the SRC need more and better communication channels with their constituencies. Sharing of tools developed by national with chapters and divisions (such as conference development software, member polling tools, and website infrastructure) would help; as would a speakers' bureau or roster system that helps chapters find successful conference content, and expanded assistance in developing chapter-level CM products that address required CM subjects. We need a platform that supports SRC representatives' communication with PSO leaders. A tool that helps the regional representatives caucus within their regions would boost communication across components — with or without such a tool, as Region II Director I would work to coordinate with Region II's AICP Commissioner and SRC Representative.
Now that the Planning for Equity Policy Guide has been adopted, how should APA use this guide to shape itself organizationally?
Equity has not been served well in the past by the multi-objective frameworks planners use. Despite good intentions, too often planners have been willing or unwilling collaborators when elected officials or developers have sought to promote economic development or environmental quality at the expense of equity and social justice. The Planning for Equity Policy Guide can be a major tool to assist planners in articulating equity needs and resisting pressures to undermine equity in the service of other planning objectives.
This Guide should now be the basis of equity review when any new APA policy is contemplated. It should inform our programmatic efforts across the substantive areas of planning, including housing, heritage, health, gentrification, mobility, environment, engagement, climate and resilience. None of the problems in these areas can be effectively addressed if voice isn't given to under-represented minorities and if the needs of minority communities are not given priority.
Internally, we should refer to the principles laid out in the Guide when making organizational decisions as was done when the NPC established what is now called the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Track. Among immediate equity issues on our internal agenda are how to ensure diversity of speakers at APA conferences, how to promote greater diversity of students in planning schools, and how to expand the range of voices in our policy deliberations.
What is the biggest challenge facing the planning profession, and how should APA address it?
Planners should be central to responses as environmental catastrophe and unparalleled levels of inequality threaten sustainability and civil order. Instead, we are too often peripheral to discussions of how to reframe urban development, fighting for air amongst other design professionals, social scientists, natural and physical scientists, and policy professionals with new interdisciplinary credentials.
APA has to take the lead in responding to this challenge. We must work creatively to build the sense of purpose and rekindle the passion of planners amidst the pressures. This should involve recognizing and supporting the diverse settings in which planners work and the many ways they contribute to urban, rural and national policy. We should be active in identifying best practices at home and abroad, and broadcasting planning successes. We should be aggressive in state and national advocacy for good planning. We should be bold in promoting the AICP credential as a requirement for key planning activities and in the public's mind. We should be central to developing resources for planning education and training and planning research. We should build and reinforce bridges to sister professions so that we ensure planners' seats at the table and planners' places in action.