The Downtown Austin Planning Process as a Community of Inquiry: An Exploratory Study
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The Downtown Austin Plan phase one planning process was used as a case study to explore pragmatic community of inquiry principles. A community of inquiry is defined by a problematic situation, reinforced by a scientific or experimental attitude, and linked together by participatory democracy. On December 12, 2005 the Austin City Council approved a resolution initiating the Downtown Austin Plan and authorizing the search for a planning consultant to guide the process. In October 2006, a consultant was selected and the final agreement was approved by City Council to begin planning services in April 2007. The Downtown Austin Plan phase one report was developed April 2007 to February 14, 2008, when recommendations were presented to the council. Document and archival data analyses, as well as structured interviews with City of Austin staff, consultants, and stakeholders were used to test three working hypotheses that were developed based on community of inquiry principles. Research findings established the use of community of inquiry principles to some degree. Support for critical optimism was most apparent, while support for scientific attitude and participatory democracy was less obvious.