Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate for Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Art, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Art, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor of Anthropology; Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


To learn participatory and pragmatic urban planning, students have to engage with the society in real and ultra-disciplinary settings. In some universities, such an opportunity is provided through provision of voluntary civil services. But this kind of services has not been included in the official programs of the urban planning in Iran while the highly centralized academic administration makes any formal alteration very difficult. The aim of this article is to examine the possibility of introducing civil services within the current administration. It was pursued through an action research which tried to establish service at studio level. This kind of service is mostly known as “service-learning”. A review of the literature showed that service-learning in the field of urban planning suffers from the isolation of universities from the society. This problem manifests itself at two levels: the administrative structure and the professional techniques of participation. Focusing on the professional level, the pragmatic formulation of democratic engagement of universities is reviewed. Using this foundation, an alternative method of participation based on the analogy and metaphor is introduced. This method was adopted, reflected on and reformed within three semesters of action research. The final edition of the method satisfactorily eased the technical problems and justified the voluntary service for students within the current administration. But the collaborating professors rejected the sufficiency of the mere method, without structural modifications. The probable reasons for that rejection are discussed for further studies.


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