Prof. Donald Schon of DUSP dies at 66


Professor Emeritus Donald A. Schon of urban studies and planning -- organizational consultant, philosopher, former government administrator and director of a nonprofit social research organization -- died September 13 at Brigham and Women's Hospital after a seven-month illness. He was 66.

He began his MIT career in 1968, when he was named a visiting professor. In 1972, he was appointed Ford Professor of Urban Studies and Education at MIT. From 1990-92, he served as chair of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. At the time of his death, he was Ford Professor Emeritus and senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning.

Although Professor Schon was a philosopher, at the heart of his life's work was the constant notion of being effective in practice and of helping educators to teach professionals how to be effective in practice. He published numerous articles and books, most importantly Beyond the Stable State, The Reflective Practitioner, and Educating the Reflective Practitioner.

Professor Schon was born in Boston and raised in Brookline and Worcester. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1951, where he studied philosophy. He also studied in Paris at the Sorbonne and Conservatoire Nationale de Music, where he studied clarinet and was awarded the Premier Prix. After graduating, he received the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and continued at Harvard, where he earned master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy in 1955. He then served two years in the US Army.

He worked from 1957-63 as senior staff member in the industrial research firm Arthur D. Little, Inc., where he formed the New Product Group in the Research and Development Division. Under the Kennedy administration, he was appointed director of the Institute for Applied Technology in the National Bureau of Standards at the Department of Commerce, where he continued through 1966.

He then co-founded and directed OSTI (Organization for Social and Technological Innovation), a nonprofit social research and development firm in the Boston area through 1973.

He leaves his wife, Nancy Quint Schon; his mother, Ann Mason Schon; four children, Ellen Schon and husband Steve Marcus, Andrew Schon and wife Jill, Elizabeth Schon Vainer and husband Gadi, and Susan Schon; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service to honor his life and work will be held at a date to be announced.

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WILLIAM F. FURTADO SR.

William F. Furtado, 62, of Cambridge, a retired driver for Graphic Arts, died on August 18. He began working at MIT in 1961 and retired in 1996. He leaves his wife, Catherine; a daughter, Debra Furtado of Medford; a son, William Furtado Jr., of Medford, and one grandchild.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 1997.


Topics: Obituaries

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