ICP Student Dawn Smith receives 2020 ACSP award




Congratulations to our ICP Masters Student - Dawn Smith for receiving ACSP 2020 award
Don Schon Award for Excellence in Learning From Practice


The 2020 winner of the Donald Schön Award for Excellence in Learning from Practice is Dawn Marie Smith, University of British Columbia for her work on a
"A Day in the Life of a Planner"  (Reflective Thinking Exercise).


Smith is a Master of Community and Regional Planning candidate at the School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC, where she is studying Indigenous Community Planning. Her current research, funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council explores the alignment of British Columbia's provincial housing programs with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Dawn has a Bachelor's in Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She has previously received the Diversity Scholarship for community involvement and volunteering from the Central Ontario Cooperative Housing Federation, in Kitchener Ontario. Before attending university she worked for 10 years in green building and co-op development. She is a white settler living on the Songhees homeland in Victoria, British Columbia.

The award selection committee had this to say about Smith's work:

"The assignment contains a thoughtful reflection and analysis of the work of planning practitioner Lindsay Cole, who runs a “Solutions Lab” within the City of Vancouver. The analysis explicitly draws on Schön's ideas, most importantly on his distinction between espoused theory and theory-in-action, and concept of reflective practice. Through the observation and reflection on Cole’s theory-in-action, Smith shows how her practice reflects elements of therapeutic, communicative, and radical planning theories. The assignment reflects a thoughtful analysis strongly in the tradition of Schön’s ideas."

We recently caught up with Smith and here's "A Closer Look" at this impressive award recipient:


Q: How did you feel when you learned you won?

I was surprised and proud! Schön’s work has really impacted me: he gave me permission to cultivate my reflective abilities and expect my professional and academic community to do the same. I’m proud to be associated with his work.


Q: Who do you want to thank?

I’d like to thank ACSP for the award and Leonie Sandercock for introducing me to Schön’s work in the first place. I owe her an extra debt of gratitude for asking me questions that have changed how I saw myself and the world around me. I’m grateful to Jennifer Lynes and Michael Wood for supporting my studies at the University of Waterloo and to the SCARP faculty for their support, especially my advisor Penny Gurstein, and our director, Heather Campbell. I’m grateful to my parents, especially my mother, for instilling in me a deep love of learning and cultivating the value of reflection; she set me on a good path.


Q: What inspired you about this project?

Lindsay Cole’s work as the manager of the Solutions Lab at the City of Vancouver is incredibly inspiring. It was so amazing to spend time at the lab and learn more about her research. I think there’s a lot of untapped potential in change labs to really experiment with solving wicked problems in the public sector.


Q: What's next?

I am currently a practicum student with Sq’éwlets First Nation where I am supporting their Comprehensive Community Plan development under the supervision of Jessie Hemphill. I am also conducting research into housing policy alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples under Maggie Lowe's guidance. I’ll graduate from the Master of Community and Regional Planning program at SCARP in 2021 and I’m exploring moving into a PhD next.


The award is given in memory of Donald Schön and in honor of his seminal work on the reflective nature of creative planning practice. Since 1998, the Donald Schön Award has recognized a paper written for a graduate course in planning, a master's thesis, or a research report which shows excellence in the writer’s personal and/or professional learning from practice and in the analysis of that learning. In addition to submissions which demonstrate reflection on the writer’s professional engagement, the Committee welcomes more theoretical papers on planning practice which use and are informed by Schön’s work.



Don Schon Award