“We’re like any 20-year-old,” said Edward Blakely, dean of the
School of Urban and Regional Planning. “We’re just old enough to
get in trouble, and young enough to have energy to make a
difference – to still have hopes and dreams and ambitions, and to
have a long career in front of us.”
And like any 20-year-old, the school is still finding its
identity. Blakely, who took over as dean in July, hopes to steer
the school on the right path.
Blakely will formally be installed as dean Tuesday, Sept. 20, as
part of the school’s 20th-anniversary celebration. The
festivities also include a symposium featuring talks on the
school’s research highlights and contributions to the planning
and development field.
As dean, Blakely wants to distinguish the school by enhancing its
international component – training students for jobs overseas –
and by using the Los Angeles urban environment as a laboratory
These aims, together with the goal of improving the enrollment of
domestic undergraduates, parallel the Strategic Plan initiatives
endorsed by the Board of Trustees.
“The Strategic Plan calls for us to be much more noticeable and
visible in Los Angeles, particularly in the neighborhood in which
we’re located,” Blakely said. “So one thing I’m trying to do is
get our classes where we teach people how to plan to use Los
Angeles as the place to do it.”
While some urban planning studios do currently focus on Los
Angeles, Blakely wants to see the city used on a more consistent
“Now we often use case studies from books. Well, I think this is
the best book – Los Angeles itself,” he said.
Because Los Angeles is a global city, Blakely wants the school’s
curriculum to reflect globalization, which also is consistent
with the Strategic Plan’s call for the university to emphasize
its international edge. He wants students to learn about other
cultures through work both here and abroad.
Given the realities of a global economy and the demand for urban
planners in foreign countries, “I want to develop a program and
training where students can have international experience as part
of their degree,” he said.
Specifically, Blakely is working to develop a master’s degree
program taught in three countries, so that students can gain
international experience as part of their training. He also wants
to establish field placements overseas for postgraduate
“A student who wants to work in Africa, for instance, will have a
place where he or she can go and be housed, fed and draw a
salary. They can work for a year and then be placed in that
Blakely would like to see these new programs implemented in
[Photo:] Edward Blakely: “I think this is the best [text]book –
Los Angeles itself.”