Urban Studies Annual Lecture Series
Justice as Subject and Object of Planning
Featuring Dr. Robert Lake, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Thursday, June 2/5:30-7:00PM
UW Tacoma/Carwein Auditorium
About this Lecture
Considerations of justice have moved to a central place in planning theory following Susan Fainstein’s (2010) eloquent plea to elevate justice as the principal criterion for the evaluation of planning practice. Justice on this understanding is the object of planning, the normative end that planning practice should strive to achieve. Dr. Robert Lake explores the implications for planning theory and practice of making justice the subject rather than the object of planning. This formulation places justice at the center rather than the outcome of practice: of concern is planning as the practice of justice rather than the justice of planning practice. The question for planning in this mode shifts from “Is this a just outcome?” to “What is justice in this situation?” Drawing from John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy, this question transcends the dualisms between subject and object, and process and outcome, by understanding outcomes as already formulated (what Dewey called ends-in-view) in the process of their production. A planning process that takes justice as its subject is anti-foundational and contextual rather than universal, anticipatory rather than retrospective, generative of solutions rather than evaluative of outcomes, culturally encompassing rather than project-delimited, and inclusively democratic rather than expert-driven. Examples from a variety of sources illustrate the practice of justice as the subject of planning.