UH Manoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning Research Highlight: Fall 2021

This edition of our UH Manoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning research highlight piece focuses on articles that were recently published by Dr. Dan Milz or published in collaboration with his colleagues. Dr. Milz is affiliated with UHM DURP and the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. His articles focus on dissent in virtual planning meetings and watershed-based planning in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The information discussed in these articles has broad practical application and will be of interest to Chapter members. Additional information on the articles as well as Dr. Milz's background and research interests is included below. 

Readers may contact Dr. Milz at dmilz@hawaii.edu to obtain a copy of the articles. 

Dissecting the politics of scale in watershed-based planning

By Dan Milz

This paper explores how spatial judgments impacted planning and policy-making by studying how stakeholders on Cape Cod, Massachusetts considered cross-scale relationships between local, regional, and state jurisdictions and hydro-geologically defined watersheds. Analysis of video data from participatory planning workshops illustrates how these judgments were made as stakeholders developed a regional wastewater management plan. Detailed analysis of their deliberations illustrates the complex and dynamic nature of their scalar judgements as they addressed mismatches between watersheds and towns. Findings illustrate how their judgments were part of the process that led to the development of innovative policy tools for collective action that embraced, rather than erased, mismatches. This paper also demonstrates the application of spatial judgments of non-expert stakeholders as they made plans and proposed actions for a complex social-ecological system.

Planning for Dissent

By Atul Pokharel, Dan Milz, and Curt D. Gervich

Participatory planning traditionally requires face-to-face meetings with the public in community fora, design charrettes, planning commission meetings, and so on. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and aided by online participatory technologies, planners have been translating their face-to-face practices for use in digital forums. These new tools are equipping planners with greater ability to control meeting interactions, including the ability to stifle dissent. In this Viewpoint, we argue that planners should devise the means to protect modes of digital dissent if they want to avoid propagating the injustices of physical participatory processes in the digital world. Based on ongoing research, we offer guidance to planners about how to begin discussing the meaningful roles dissent could play and how it might effectively and fairly be incorporated into virtual participatory planning processes. In practice, this means that planners must pay more explicit attention to the norms and rules of participation as they evolve for online settings and to avoid hasty judgments when confronted with dissenting voices.

Dan Milz

Dan Milz is an Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in UH Manoa's Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. He teaches in the Environmental Planning and Sustainability Course Stream and in the Matsunaga Institute’s Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Dr. Milz studies the science and politics of environmental planning by analyzing how people think about ecological systems as they make plans and propose new policies. His research agenda has three components. First, it investigates the cognitive aspects of practical environmental judgments in participatory settings to observe how stakeholders learn to make better plans. Second, he researches the role that data visualization tools play in supporting planning processes. Finally, he explores how professional facilitators help local stakeholders improve planning and policy outcomes. Dr. Milz has studied regional wastewater planning on Cape Cod, water supply planning in the Chicago region, community green infrastructure planning in urban neighborhoods, and stakeholder learning in community engagement processes.