Worlds Lost and Found: Analytical Contributions in Support of Collective Decision Making for Collective Action

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Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Kieran Donaghy, professor emeritus of the Department of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University.

Donaghy will present a survey of recent analytical contributions that enable spatial planners and urban designers to support and engage in collective decision making and design leading to collective action by bringing into view relevant aspects of the world—as it is and as it could be. He'll begin by identifying critical features of analytical frameworks intended to support collective decision making for collective action. He'll then offer an argument for why we need a more complete ontology than what has traditionally been invoked in spatial planning and discuss the sophisticated ontology in the planning data model of Lewis Hopkins, Nikhil Kaza, and Varkki George Pallathucheril. Noting that this ontology is non-committal on underlying social behavior, he will further discuss contributions from behavioral economics that might be integrated into Hopkins et al.’s framework. While acknowledging that the framework of Hopkins et al. supports analyses of transition paths to alternative futures, he argues for formalizing analyses of subjunctive reasoning, drawing on an important but neglected contribution by Walter Isard and Blane Lewis. He then proceeds to a discussion of causal analysis in general that draws on the work of Nancy Cartwright and consider an example of how such analysis can be conducted in the planning support system of Brian Deal, Haozhi Pan, Stephanie Timm, and Varkki Pallathucheril  In the final part of this talk, Donaghy will briefly consider how Michael Batty is modeling collective decision making in urban design.

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