The 2011 World Planning Schools Congress (WPSC2011) in Perth, Western Australia, will celebrate 10 years of global urban/regional planning scholarship, education and policy research since the first WPSC was held in Shanghai (2001). In the period since then and the second WPSC, held in Mexico City (2006), the world that we live in has become a predominantly urbanised one, hyper-globalised and intimately inter-connected due to developments in technology, migration flows, and natural, human-made and economic disasters.

Such events have had and continue to have profound impacts on where and how we live, work and play and have had varying impacts, positive and negative, across different spaces, places and communities. In short, we appear to be living through an era of major socio-economic, cultural, environmental and political transformation and (un)certainty. Paradoxically, this situation seems to offer planning and planners a sense of certainty and clarity as to their role in anticipating, analysing, and ameliorating the various challenges that surround us as a consequence on the aforementioned transformations.

In the last few years policymakers around the world have been confronted with a series of “mega-wicked problems” in the form of rapid urbanisation, climate change, population growth and demographic structuring, natural disasters and, global economic volatility prompted by the sub-prime housing crisis. In the wake of this there has arguably been a (re)turn to urban and regional planning/planners for explanations and (re)solutions. As such the WPSC 2011 provides an ideal time and opportunity for planning scholars, educators and policy researchers to critically reflect on:

where planning scholarship, education and practice has come from – theoretically, methodologically, pedagogically, technologically, empirically, politically and professionally;

where planning currently sits as an academic discipline and profession that is notionally premised on serving the ‘public interest’ but exists in a world containing mongrel cities, edge cities, polycentric cities, fractured cities, global/world cities, mega-cities, refugee cities, creative cities, and (un)sustainable cities with ever splintering senses of community;

the successes and failures of planning scholarship, education and practice; and

the future direction(s) and prospects of planning scholarship, education and practice over the next 10-20 years, why we should be moving there, and how we can best get there.

WPSC11 will provide spaces and opportunities for established and early-career planning scholars and educators, research students, and policy researchers from around the world to come together to share ideas, knowledges and experiences that will serve to create a dynamic and thought-provoking environment designed to encourage intellectual, pedagogical and policy debate and to foster linkages - research, teaching and social – between members of the global urban/regional planning community.