Whilst the obvious difference between this tour and previous two is that Sheffield, England, is a vastly different place to Sri Lanka, this tour has added a different element: interdisciplinary study of place. Whilst my previous tours have been urban and rural planning dominated, this tour has also had a focus on areas of study such as class, history and archeology, as well as literature and the arts. Accordingly, lectures and field trips, as well as our group-work assignment, have incorporated elements of the aforementioned disciplines. I have found this to be in a way refreshing; working with students of little to no planning background has challenged me to think out of the square, and challenged me to explain what planning is and its role in society. As part of the group work, it was interesting having to explain planning terms and notions to other group members, whilst I enjoyed learning from them about historical studies, the arts and class issues. Subsequently, interdisciplinary study has aided in my learning; mainly that people approach issues, problems and work from different perspectives and backgrounds. In this instance, whilst I was focused on issues of design, renewal, transport and heritage protection, other group members wanted to elicit the elements of class, economics and social history to tell a similar story.
My personal learning on this trip is difficult to summarise. Obviously I have discovered new information and research methods on this trip. From new ideas, methods and outcomes relating to renewal of place, as well as the roles and layers of government in the social, economic and environmental planning process, but there has been more. I believe my learning on this trip has more being focused on making the most of what you can. Being engaged on the daily field trips, applying each lecture to your own areas of interest and study, and ensuring that you take note of the ideas and perspectives of people from different disciplines. After all, this has been an interdisciplinary study tour.
In all, learning through interdisciplinary study has enabled me to broaden my perspectives on a variety of issues. From the impacts of planning on class, the economy and society, to the roles of government and power over all levels and aspects of the country, town and city. As a planner, this trip has reinforced to me the power of planning not just over the physical environment, but also society and the economy
- James McLean (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)