University of Calgary

Thomas Leonard Harper

  • Adjunct Professor

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.

Personal Statement

My teaching and research interest is in exploring theoretical issues which impact public planners' ability to meet the challenges of a post-modern, post-industrial, pluralistic, liberal democratic society. My theoretical work (in collaboration with Dr. Stan Stein) has aimed to develop planning theory that we believe is relevant to contemporary planners, helping them (1) understand the rapidly changing and turbulent environments (physical, social, political, economic, legal, institutional, professional) in which  they attempt to carry out their historic mission -- making human environments better places to live;  and, (2) justify the role and purpose of public planning and plans in our society. I have expressed these theoretical concerns in practice, where my primary interest  has been in the area of assisting various community groups in decision-making and consensus-building.

Canadian management guru Henry Mintzberg defines a professional as having (1) a general theoretical framework, (2) a toolkit of solutions (techniques), (3) skill in (a) diagnosis, (b) application of the appropriate tools. The more turbulent the (social and physical)  environment,
the more inadequate is the professional's toolkit to deal with emerging problems. The professions become less and less relevant as more problems "fall btwn the slats." Here lies the need for interdisciplnarity: problem-oriented inquiry and practice which bridges professional and disciplinary "cultural" boundaries. In order to bridge these boundaries, we need to understand the conceptual frameworks of the different fields. This requires a flexible and adaptive approach: in our recent publications, Dr Stein and I have advocated a Neo-pragmatic approach to both theory and practice.

All professions today are contested, experiencing some sense of crisis from the "post-modern" challenge to the authority and legitimacy of expertise. Thus, there is an increasing need for the environmental design professions to be "reflective practitioners": to be critical about what they do,  to be aware of the normative aspects, to be able to justify and legitimate their plans, policies or designs, to give good arguments and reasons for them. Dr. Stein and I have addressed the need for reflective critique and for understanding the moral basis for legitimating public plans and policies in a liberal democratic society.

Although I am a native Calgarian, I have spent time living in various large cities. These experiences in large metropolitan areas gave me an awareness of some of the benefits and challenges of urban living, and broadened my interest in social issues. I did my undergrad degree here at U of C, and graduate work in management at Carnegie Mellon University, and in public policy and urban economics at the University of  Chicago and the London School of Economics.

For most of my career, my teaching has been in core courses of the new MEDes, the Planning Program, and the faculty core -- focussing on critical thinking, ethics, economic and political institutions, and planning theory. At various times I have also taught courses in research methods, urbanization, organization and management, and urban management, many of these in collaboration with philosopher Stanley Stein.

I was director of the Planning Program for nearly ten years. I served on the board of the (American) Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, as President of the Association of Canadian University Planning Programs, and as their representative to the Global Planning Education Associations Network. I have been on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Planning Education and Research, am now on the Editorial Board of Canadian Planning and Policy,
and have refereed several books, over 130 journal articles, and over 160 conference papers.

As a professional planner (MCIP, RPP), I have done work for a variety of clients, and have served on boards and committees for quite a few community, social service, educational and church organizations.

 

Selected Work

Books

  • T.L. Harper, A. Yeh,  H. Costa, M. Hibbard, eds. Forthcoming 2010. Dialogues in Urban and Regional Planning, Volume 4. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis
  • T.L. Harper, A. Yeh,  H. Costa, eds. 2008. Dialogues in Urban and Regional Planning, Volume 3. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein.  2006. Dialogical Planning in a Fragmented Society: Critically 
    Liberal, Pragmatic  and Incremental. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy 
    Research, Rutgers University.

 

Refereed Journal Articles

  • S.M. Stein, T.L. Harper.  2005. Rawls' "Justice as Fairness": a Moral Basis for Contemporary Planning Theory. Planning Theory. 4:2.
  • S.M. Stein, T.L. Harper. 2004. Power,  Trust  and  Planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research.
  • T. B. Jamal, S.M. Stein, T.L. Harper.  2003. Beyond labels: Pragmatic planning in multi-stakeholder  tourism-environmental conflicts. Journal of Planning Education and Research .
  • S.M. Stein, T.L. Harper. 1996. Planning theory for environmentally sustainable planning. Geography  Research Forum. vol. 16,80-100
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein. 1995. Out of the post-modern abyss: Preserving the rationale for liberal planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research 14:4, 233-244. 

 

Chapters in Books

  • Stiftel, B., J. Demerutis, A. Frank, T. Harper, D. Inkoom, L. Lee, J. Lima, A. Memon, I. Mironowicz, N. Nkya, D. Paris, C. Silver, N. Sipe. 2009. In Planning Sustainable Cities. Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, c.10. Earthscan.
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein. 2008. Classical Liberal (Libertarian) Planning Theory. In Critical Essays in Planning Theory. Vol 2. eds. J. Hillier and P. Healey. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing. (Reprint of 1995 chapter below)
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein. 2006. Dialogical Planning in a Fragmented Society: Critically  Liberal, Pragmatic and Incremental. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University. 
  • T. B. Jamal, S.M. Stein, T.L. Harper.  2004. Beyond labels: Pragmatic planning in multi-stakeholder  tourism-environmental conflicts. In Dialogues in Urban Planning: Prize Papers from the World Planning School Associations. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein. 1995. Classical Liberal (Libertarian) Planning Theory. In Planning Ethics: A reader  in planning theory, practice and education. ed. S. Hendler. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research. Rutgers University, c.1.
  • T.L. Harper, S.M. Stein. 1995. Contemporary Procedural Ethical Theory and Planning Theory, In Planning Ethics: A reader in  planning theory, practice and education. ed, S. Hendler. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban  Policy Research. Rutgers University, c.3.

 

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