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What sort of ethics training do planners want?

The University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities has recently completed a two-year project, called Cities of Integrity, that researches the role of ethics and integrity in the planning and urban development professions. Early results from the research, which included surveys, interviews, and more innovative engagements with planners, reinforces the hypothesis that establishing an integrity-based professional identity may help planners to face ethical day-to-day challenges. To learn more about the Cities of Integrity project, visit: To see some of the videos that resulted from the project, follow these links: and

Part of the research included a country-wide survey of planning and urban development professionals. The vast majority of South African respondents (90%) agreed that they fully understood what is expected of them as a planner in terms of integrity and ethical behaviour. More than four in five (84%) South African respondents also agreed that a main function of professional planning associations is to provide training on ethics.

If, as the survey indicates, South African planners know what is expected of them in terms of professional ethics, and they agree that professional associations like SACPLAN should facilitate training on ethics, what should future trainings cover?

Great post! In response to what type of training is needed on ethics, I would quote John Forester's book title, 'Planning in the face of power.' I think planners need interactive sessions where they can learn from each other on how to respond to situations where they are put under pressure, namely what tactics they can use to resist, both direct and indirect, to maintain their professional intergrity. This should also take job level into account, the tactics used by a junior planner versus a planner in management is likely to differ. 


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