Unpacking Spatial Planning as the Governance of Place

International Summer School 2016

25 August to 27 August 2016 in Stockholm (Sweden)


Since the early 1990s, the concept of ’governance’ has been commonly used as a framework for describing the various types of interplay between the state, market actors and civil society and particularly the increased involvement of non-state actors promoting new interaction pathways. Similarly spatial planning is called to address a number of topical societal challenges, such as climate change, regional economic development, spatial segregation, or the provisions of services of general interest, which are undoubtedly no longer solvable by the state itself. Consequently, in recent years, various types and characteristics of governance have been identified within spatial planning and development work. In this vein, most noteworthy is perhaps the concept of ‘territorial’ or ‘multi-level’ governance, which still appears rather blurred due to the prevailing confusion around various notions associated with the terms ‘territory’, ‘space’ and ‘place’. Be this as it may, we can still detect a number of gaps in the literature how and to what extent, for instance, various planning cultures, regional identities and place-based characteristics or sectoral interests factor into spatial planning work and governance practices.


The International Summer School 2016 intends to discuss conceptual, methodological and empirical contributions that investigate spatial planning as the governance of place regarding the following potential key topics:

  •  theoretical, conceptual or methodological advances in researching spatial planning and local/ regional development work as the governance of place,
  • reflecting the role of stakeholders, institutions and agency,
  • examining practices of the coordination of actors and institutions and the integration of policy sectors to achieve a certain territorial development goal (such as improving the provisions of services of general interest, climate change adaptation/ mitigation, reducing spatial segregation, combatting housing shortages),
  •  reflecting the tension between self-organised or soft forms of governance and the strive for democratic legitimacy and accountability in planning,
  • examining the various political, administrative and cultural articulated spatialities within trans-boundary/ multi-level governance and spatial planning,
  • exploring today’s role(s) of notions such as place, space, territory and related ones in spatial planning and governance,
  • studying the role of regional (or territorial) collective identities and their integration in spatial planning and governance,
  • deploying a gendered perspective within the governance of place and its impacts on e.g. actornetworks and power formations,
  • investigating how prevailing perceptions, policy styles and planning cultures feed into spatial planning and governance processes,
  • exploring the role of various types of knowledge in spatial planning and governance practices,
  • (comparative) cross-national/cross-regional studies on the role of planning and/or governance cultures.


The International Summer School 2016 of the ARL (German Academy for Spatial Research and Planning) will be held in cooperation with the Department of Human Geography at Stockholm University (SE). Stockholm University is one of the world’s top 100 higher education institutes, with over 70,000 students, 1,800 doctoral students and 5,000 employees. The Department of Human Geography, where the ARL International Summer School is hosted in 2016, employs about 50 people. The Department has three larger research profiles. One of those is the ‘Stockholm Urban and Regional Research Environment’ (SURE), in which the Summer School is embedded, which brings together over 15 senior researchers and PhD students in a dynamic environment. The research ventures span different scales and topics often related to issues such as power, gender, space/place dynamics, planning practices, territorial governance, sustainable/ uneven development, identity and mobility.


Our aim is to stimulate discussions, develop new insights, and establish the need and nature of future research imperatives in the topic of spatial planning and governance. Every participant will therefore have the chance to present his or her research and receive individual feedback from international professors and experts. In addition, keynote speeches and plenary sessions offer the opportunity to intensify the debate and develop further research ideas. Field trips and shared social activities round off the programme.


We invite young academics and experienced experts within the field of spatial planning and governance. Besides six appointed “wild cards” for young academics from European Universities, the ARL is sponsoring six further young academics for the Summer School 2016 in Stockholm. This will cover accommodation and travel costs. A participation fee will not be charged. As academic institutions, the ARL and Stockholm University encourage scientific publications. The organizers aim to compile a special issue of an academic journal on the theme of the Summer School. Participants should thus be willing and prepared to develop their papers into articles for academic journals. Contributions for such a special issue will be selected during the Summer School. Nonetheless, the organizers do not guarantee the publication of selected contributions.


Your application should include a convincing motivation letter, a short CV, and an abstract of not more than 600 words describing the project you are going to present and discuss.

Please submit your application by 28 February 2016 to

Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung (ARL)
Dr. Lisa Marquardt Hohenzollernstraße 11
30161 Hannover

or via e-mail to peters@arl-net.de.

You will receive notification of acceptance by April 2016.
Applicants may not exceed the age of 35 years.


For further questions, please contact Dr. Ina Peters (peters@arl-net.de, +49 (0)511 34842 61) or Associate Professor Peter Schmitt (peter.schmitt@humangeo.su.se, +46 8 674 7853).