John Forester

John Forester's research into the micropolitics of the planning process, ethics, and political deliberation assesses the ways that planners shape participatory processes and manage public disputes in diverse settings. He has served as a mediator for the Community Dispute Resolution Center of Tompkins County, has consulted for the Consensus Building Institute, and has lectured in the past several years in Seattle, Chapel Hill, Sydney, Melbourne, Helsinki, Palermo, Johannesburg, Aix en Provence, Amsterdam, and Milan.

Forester's recent writing includes Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes, and he has edited a manuscript with Ken Reardon (Ph.D. CRP '90) for CRP's New Orleans Planning Initiative. Forester spent the 2008–09 academic year as NICIS Scholar at the University of Amsterdam's Centre for Conflict Studies.

Forester served as department chair from 1998–01 and was associate dean from 1997–98. He received his B.S., M.S., M.C.P., and Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Community-based planning and development
  • Participatory and collaborative planning

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Classes (Selected)

  • CRP 5460 Introduction to Community and Environmental Dispute Resolution Explores the theories and techniques of dispute resolution as they apply to community, environmental, and related public-policy disputes. Analysis complements skill-building. Issues of power, participation, and strategy are central to our examinations of negotiation and mediation practice.
  • CRP 5850 Special Topics in Planning: Policy Research and WritingThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to planning. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 2010 People, Politics, and Planning in the CitySeminar examining various bases of political and professional power. What do professionals who want to serve the public need to know about power and decision-making processes in the institutional settings in which they operate? How and why can professionals make a difference when facing problems characterized by great complexity and severe inequalities among affected groups? The course addresses these and others questions.
  • CRP 5130 Introduction to the History and Theory of PlanningThis graduate lecture course provides a foundation on the theory and history of how cities are planned, developed, and governed. The first half explores why cities exist and how their economic, political, and imperial functions have shaped planning interventions, spatial and social inequality, and environmental outcomes. The second examines the major levers that governments can use to shape the urban condition, including land policy, social policy, infrastructure and natural resource policy, and planning processes. The course connects U.S. experiences with relational and comparative perspectives from around the world. Assignments emphasize training in reading, writing, and communication skills. 

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Urban Studies Research Grant, University of Amsterdam
  • Josephine Jones Lecturer, University Colorado-Boulder (2010)
  • John De Grove Guest Professor, Florida Atlantic University (2010)
  • NICIS Scholar, Den Haag, Holland (2008–09)
  • Cecil Sheps Social Justice lecturer, University of North Carolina (2004)

Publications (Selected)

  • Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes, Oxford University Press (2009)
  • "Beyond 'Participation': From Risk Management to Processes of Dialogue, Debate, and Negotiation," with Reshmi Thecketil, Building Safer Communities. Risk Governance, Spatial Planning, and Responses to Natural Hazards (2009)
  • "Interface: Making a Difference in Response to Hurricane Katrina," edited with articles by Ken Reardon, Andrew Rumbach, Praj Kasbekar, and Efrem Bycer, Planning Theory and Practice (2008)
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