Week 3: What is Ethics in Urban Planning?

In urban planning, my field of practice, there is a code of ethics that applies to all planning professionals or practitioners, on the role and responsibility of planners. The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is the main ethical guideline for planners.

The  AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is divided into five sections to include (1) aspirational principles (ideals); (2) rules of conduct; (3) procedural provisions; (4) how a complaint of misconduct can be filed; and (5) forms of disciplinary actions against a planner. I see as an ethical dilemma the fact while the AICP ethical principles can apply to all planners or urban planning practitioners, misconduct cases are only applicable to members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

The AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct address research that contributes to the body of planning knowledge – that is, in terms of expectation on sharing of research findings and results. But most importantly, as with most of this module’s readings, these ethical principles prescribe a set of value and standards and professional conduct to regulate and guide professional conduct, and to promote good judgment, and decision-making.

Overall, the reading articles about research ethics in the humanities and social sciences seems to discuss ethical lapse or action and their potential consequences. My observation is that there is a difference between practice-based, domain-specific ethics (e.g., the AICP code of ethics) and a research ethics guideline (e.g., On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: 3rd Edition); where there is a clear delineation between personal and institutional responsibilities. For instances, AICP members are held personally responsible for misconduct.

However, the concept of research ethics embraces both personal and institutional responsibilities. In addition to personal misconduct by a particular researcher, a university or research institution may be held accountable for the actions of an affiliated researcher (student or faculty).