Judith E. Innes, Professor Emerita of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley and an authority on collaborative approaches to urban planning and decision-making, died of lymphoma at her home in Davis, CA on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. She was 78.
Innes began her academic career in the 1970s working on social indicators, but by the early ‘80s she had come to question rational technocratic models of decision-making and had turned to the study of how knowledge was actually used in practice.
Observing how data were used – or not used – in reaching decisions, she came to see the world as a complex adaptive system where interventions have unpredictable results, experts can mobilize biases, and myth, narrative and personal experience can be powerfully persuasive. She used these insights to create a new paradigm for planning, addressing the challenges posed to traditional practices by the many voices and competing versions of reality that confront planners today.
Innes authored, co-authored, or edited four books, more than 50 articles and book chapters, and two major monographs. Often ahead of the times, Innes’ writings were frequently controversial, but eventually many of them became required reading.
Planning professor Patsy Healey of Newcastle University, who got to know Innes during a visit to UC Berkeley in the mid-1980s and became a close colleague and friend, said of Innes, “The stream of papers she wrote over twenty years now occupy a position as core literature in our field.”
Innes’ most recent book, Planning with Complexity: An Introduction to Collaborative Rationality for Public Policy (Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Oxford with David E. Booher) is now in its second edition and is widely considered a classic. The book draws upon the authors’ decades of experience in planning and public policy, analyzes the roots and the emerging practices of collaboration, and presents an overarching theory of collaborative rationality to help make sense of the new practices.
Innes was active throughout her career in leadership positions for the planning profession and the university. She was a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, reviewing academic planning programs in universities across the US. She also was a prominent leader in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
At UC Berkeley, she served two terms as director of the Institute of Urban & Regional Development, a campus-wide organized research unit, where she helped to secure and manage extramurally funded projects that included community development efforts, action research, and community-based learning. She was a member of key committees of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate and was active in the Women’s Faculty Club.
An engaging teacher, she was a much sought-after mentor of graduate students, many of whom are now faculty members themselves and credit her for transforming their academic careers. Upon her retirement, former students joined with Innes’ colleagues and admirers across the US to organize a session at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual meeting to recognize her many contributions to the field.
A tireless advocate for women on campus, Innes coached her women colleagues to “kick over the waste basket” of outmoded ideas that could stymie their advancement, and organized writing groups that helped junior faculty members attain tenure while shaping lasting networks of friendship and collaboration.
Michael Teitz, Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning and a longtime colleague of Innes, noted that she had always been a tenacious fighter - for women in the university, for students and young faculty, for those who faced discrimination and unfair treatment in promotion, for a form of planning that recognized the importance of communication and community - and added that she had been gloriously successful in every fight.
Her many friends, while admiring her intellect, also noted her wry sense of humor, her frank speech, and the fun they had traveling with her or meeting for monthly breakfasts or dinners where conversations ranged from work to family to the news of the day.
Innes grew up in Boston, where her father and grandfather had been prominent political leaders; her mother had been a dancer in vaudeville and cabarets. Raised to be a debutante, wife and mother, she chose to also become a scholar. She received her B.A. in English Literature from Radcliffe College, Harvard and her Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT. She taught as a lecturer at Tufts University and was a visiting lecturer at Berkeley before joining the Berkeley faculty as an assistant professor in 1976, rising through the ranks to full professor. She retired in 2011.
She is survived by her partner, David Booher of Davis, CA, her son, Robert de Neufville of Honolulu, her brother Charles, niece Daniele Campbell, great nephew Casey Lamb and great niece Charlotte Lamb, two cousins, and many friends.
A memorial event will be held on the Berkeley campus in fall 2020, COVID-19 permitting.
Donations in memory of Judy can be made here, where you can select the option to donate “In Memory” of a person. All donations in memory of Judy will go to the Department of City & Regional Planning PhD program to fund fellowships and the Berkeley Planning Journal.
Planning with Complexity: An Introduction to Collaborative Rationality for Public Policy, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Oxford, 2010., second edition
Knowledge and Public Policy: The Search for Meaningful Indicators, Transaction Books, Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1990.
The Land Use Policy Debate in the United States. (ed) Plenum Press, New York, 1981.
Social Indicators and Public Policy: Interactive Processes of Design and Application, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co. Amsterdam, 1975.
--Selected Journal Articles:
"Informality as a Strategy of Planning: Collaborative Water Management in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program" (with Sarah Connick and David E. Booher), Journal of the American Planning Association, 73, 2, 195-210, Spring 2007.
“Reframing Public Participation: Strategies for the 21st Century” (with David E. Booher), Planning Theory and Practice, 5, 4, 419-436, 2005.
“Planning Styles in Conflict: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission” (With Judith Gruber), Journal of The American Planning Association. 71, 2, Spring, 177-188, 2005.
"Consensus building: Clarifications for the critics." Planning theory 3, no. 1 (2004): 5-20.
“Outcomes of Collaborative Water Policy Making: Applying Complexity Thinking to Evaluation” (with Sarah Connick), Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 46, 2, March, pp. 177-197, 2003.
Consensus building and complex adaptive systems: A framework for evaluating collaborative planning (with D.E. Booher)m Journal of the American Planning Association 65 (4), 412-423 1711, 1999