Planning’s First Domestic Research Agenda Targets Timely Priorities

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities face a myriad of challenges that will impact the work of planners. FutureShape, the first domestic research agenda for the planning profession, outlines five planning themes addressing 18 key planning issues that will affect the health of the profession and the well-being of the communities planners serve.

The five themes are:

  1. Disruptors and megatrends
  2. Climate change, resilience, and sustainability
  3. Equity, inclusion, and diversity
  4. Healthy and livable communities
  5. Plan making and implementation

The multi-year effort was the signature cause of the APA Foundation. It brought together thought leaders from the planning profession and allied organizations, and was the first collaborative effort of its kind between the academic community and planning practitioners in the U.S. While the majority of the work took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the issues identified remain relevant and are perhaps even more poignant today.


Cover of FutureShape: A Research Agenda for the Planning Profession

A Research Agenda for the Planning Profession

FutureShape is the first domestic research agenda for the planning profession. The themes and key planning issues identified, including public health, social equity, sustainability, and resiliency, will affect the health of the profession and the well-being of communities now, and into the future. These issues remain relevant, and perhaps even more poignant now.

"The APA Foundation is proud of this effort, which pinpoints the most pressing research needs of our time," said Mary Kay Peck, FAICP, chair of the APA Foundation. "As protests over racial injustice sweep the nation, the FutureShape research agenda highlights the planning profession's commitment to addressing a legacy of inequitable practices and conditions in communities."

As communities begin to reopen, rethinking life post-pandemic and following the wave of civil unrest, FutureShape reinforces the planning profession's role in leading communities to a future that is more resilient and sustainable.

Funders, public and private institutions, planning scholars, and planning practitioners are encouraged to review the FutureShape report to understand and advance priority areas for research and professional practice.

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Top image: Getty Images illustration.

About the Author
Roberta Rewers is APA's communications manager.

June 10, 2020

By Roberta Rewers