Theory versus practice in planning education: the view from South Africa.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of the Free State


This paper reflects on the ongoing debate between theory and practice in planning, using the example of South Africa. Based on one of the largest surveys undertaken to date of the South African planning profession, it discusses how planning education in South Africa is perceived to prepare students adequately for practice. While acknowledging that the majority of respondents view their Higher Education training positively, results of the study reveal challenges about how theory could be applied in practice along with knowledge gaps, particularly towards development control and land use management. Those challenges are raised in line with the extreme diversity of planning work, and the issues this presents to planning education. The paper then builds upon calls to develop contextualised practices of knowing (Davoudi, 2015), insisting on the importance of the ‘local’ in planning education in order to bridge gaps between theory and practice in socio-culturally distinct contexts.


Original languageEnglish
JournalPlanning, Practice and Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Feb 2020