Director Penny Gurstein's farewell message

(Although Penny is ending her term as SCARP Director, she will continue in her role as Professor at SCARP. She will be teaching, supervising students and working with the newly formed Housing Research Collaborative.)

I am ending my 10-year term on August 31, 2018 and a new Director, Dr. Heather Campbell will be starting on Sept. 1, 2018.  Heather is coming from University of Sheffield in the UK and we at SCARP are excited about having her join SCARP.   

SCARP has gone through a lot of changes since I joined the faculty in 1991.  There are now only 2 faculty members (Tom Hutton & myself) who started or were at SCARP in 1991 when I started. I was the first tenured female faculty member, now there are 4, and soon, 5, with Heather.  We have also become a more diverse faculty but recognize that we need to become more diverse.  

As you know, SCARP has had a long history of leading the transition to social, environmental and economic sustainability in our teaching, research and service.  I have been told repeatedly that SCARP is unique among planning schools in its innovative approaches, and inclusive and respectful ways that it addresses planning problems and those affected by planning.  We were at the forefront in changing the model of planning in Canada from a rational approach that dominated planning in the after the Second World War to a collaborative model that involves stakeholders and the community affected by planning.   We have championed a new approach to planning for and with Indigenous communities through our indigenous community planning concentration.   We have actively engaged in community and regional planning issues both locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.  We have developed community-based approaches to our teaching and research such as social learning (called learning by doing, and pedagogical innovations such as the use of film in planning processes.  We have partnered with a range of community organizations and institutions including with the Musqueam Indian Band.  We have championed community engagement that allows for respectful dialogue, and deep listening and learning. 


Some of the highlights of my time as Director are the formation of the Indigenous community planning concentration that has become a model for other programs and has transformed our relations with indigenous communities. We have developed a new Professional Masters Program, the Master of Community and Regional Planning that, in its second year, requires a two-term planning studio where students work on real world planning projects and have an opportunity to integrate the theory they are learning with their practice.  We have created a new Master of Engineering Leadership in Urban Systems with Civil Engineering.  We have also revamped our Research Master's degree and reinvigorated our PhD program.   In 2017-18 we introduced 4 new undergraduate courses to great success, and another one in 2018-19,  and are in the process of developing a two-year undergraduate program as a proposed Bachelor of Community and Regional Studies.  We are in the last stages of finalizing a book on Vancouver and its region to be published by UBC Press, which has contributions from all of our faculty and will make an important contribution to planning theory and practice.  We have hosted numerous symposiums and workshops on critical planning issues.  We have also worked collaboratively with units at UBC and university programs in Europe, North America and Asia on planning problems internationally.  


All of this would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of SCARP faculty, staff and students.  The staff need a special thank you for their dedication and diligence to our school and its students.  The students are really what makes our school so vibrant.  It always amazes me every year what a talented, astute and enthusiastic cohort of students we have.  When they leave, I hope they are leaving with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the world.   I also need to acknowledge the support of the Faculty of Applied Science where we relocated to in 2013.  Being in a faculty that appreciates what we offer and supports us has been invaluable to our recent successes, and I hope that with the Faculty’s support we will be able to address the woefully inadequate facilities that SCARP occupies.  


Planning is a never-ending project and so much still needs to be done in addressing inequities and climate change.  SCARP has an important contribution to make.  I look forward to continuing to be involved in SCARP’s nurturing when I return on March 1, 2019 after my Administrative Leave.