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Call for Applications for the ARL International Summer School 2024


A picture showing a row of "habitable" photovoltaic panels in front of autumn-colored trees, with residential buildings and a city skyline in the background. Picture showing Picture generated by Adobe Firefly using the following keywords: transformation, new residential areas, landscape,  photovoltaics, new mobility, settlements, agricultural transition, city.

THUR 26 – SAT 28 September 2024, Vienna 

The event is jointly organized by: ARL - Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz AssociationUniversity of Vienna / Department of Geography and Regional Research

The ARL – Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association in cooperation with the Department of Geography and Regional Research at the University of Vienna, Prof. Dr. Meike Levin-Keitel, is inviting applications for the ARL International Summer School 2024 on “SPATIAL TRANSFORMATION FROM A PLANNING PERSPECTIVE”. The Summer School will take place from 26 to 28 September 2024 at the University of Vienna (arrival scheduled for 25 September 2024). Advanced doctoral students from all disciplines are invited to apply. The deadline for applications is 01 April 2024.


Spatial transformation holds a central role in addressing the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century, extending beyond the pressing concerns of climate change. The intricate interplay of ecological and social issues shapes the landscape of our future lifestyles, necessitating a profound shift towards sustainability. The spatial perspective emerges as a key protagonist in steering the transformation of cities and regions, energy and mobility systems, land usage, and the pervasive digitization across all facets of life. Embracing a socio-spatial lens in the pursuit of sustainability acknowledges that transformation processes are not only occurring within our living spaces but also shaping the conditions for future changes. Spatial planning has a great potential to play a pivotal role by addressing the complex dimensions of the built and unbuilt environment.

However, this transformative potential of spatial planning has not yet been fully exploited, many frameworks seem to be spatially blind. We are looking forward to analyzing and discussing the role of spatial planning in transformation processes. These research endeavors focus on diverse knowledge dimensions, spanning spatial system analyses, normative target knowledge, and transformation knowledge. This holistic perspective aims to understand how transformation processes can be collaboratively supported and developed by society, generating socially relevant knowledge.


Theoretical reflections and practical research approaches in spatial planning grapple with fundamental questions in transformation processes of all kinds (energy, mobility, agro-food transitions etc.). We invite contributions from doctoral students internationally and across a range of disciplines, such as geography, planning, urban studies and other social sciences, humanities and engineering. Our aim is to have a broad range of issues in the above topical contexts addressed, including:

  • Theoretical and conceptual contributions to the field of spatial transformations (disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary approaches), e.g. in the realm of social justice, democratic decision-making, spatial answers to target conflicts etc.
  • Theorizing on the role of spatial planning in transformation processes (anchored in planning theories or elsewhere)
  • Transdisciplinary tools and methods to gain societal relevant knowledge (such as real word labs, citizen science approaches etc.
  • Empirical insights in diverse fields of transformation like urban transitions and/or energy, mobility, agro-food transitions etc.


The ARL – Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association (Akademie für Raumentwicklung in der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft) is an independent, non-partisan institution for the spatial sciences under public law and is based in Hanover (Germany). The ARL offers knowledge-based analysis and advice on current sustainable spatial development issues. The ARL’s network of eminent experts from science and practice carries out research and knowledge transfer activities within the Academy’s joint working committees, thus offering important insights and findings for the future-oriented development of spatial structures and the political and planning measures necessary for shaping them. Moreover, with the new interactive Knowledge and Communication Platform (www.arl-international.com), which is unique in this format, the ARL is making a significant contribution to the active shaping of the European Research Area in the field of spatial and planning science.

Our mission at the Department of Geography and Regional Research of the University of Vienna is to advance cutting-edge, creative and globally competitive research, which defines our discipline and has positive impacts on society and to translate this research into excellent teaching. This will empower our students to become critical and responsible graduates, teachers in Geography and Economic Education and global citizens. We strongly believe that Geography with its focus on space-time relationships and dynamics is centrally relevant for tackling the grand societal challenges that we are currently facing. Since the establishment of our department in 1885, we have nurtured the plurality and diversity of concepts and methods and fostered inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation, which are necessary to address the challenges of the 21st century. We aim to provide an inclusive, collegial and inspiring environment that enables all members of the department to unlock their potential and contribute to our mission.

THE VENUE: University of Vienna

The Summer School will take place at the premises of the University of Vienna in the inner city of Vienna. The University of Vienna is one of the oldest universities in Europe, celebrating its 650 years jubilee in 2015. The University is committed to openness and the guiding principle of curiosity in which its interdisciplinary approach is one of its major strengths. With innovative research, research-led teaching, approximately 10,000 graduates, about 1,000 events and 350 (inter)national conferences and meetings every year, the University’s influence extends around the world.


Our aim is to stimulate discussions, gain insights and develop new research questions around the subject of this year’s summer school. Participants will have the opportunity to present their research and receive individual feedback from a number of participating international scholars. In addition, keynote speeches by distinguished academics in the field of spatial transformation offer the opportunity to intensify the debate and develop further research ideas. The program is complemented by a field trip and social activities.


The summer school takes a critical and interdisciplinary approach to the topic of spatial transformation from a planning perspective. We invite applications from advanced doctoral students with a background in geography, urban and European studies, political sciences, sociology, spatial planning, public administration, social design, and related fields. We accept up to nine participants in a competitive application process. The ARL sponsors the accommodation and travel costs for all participants. A participation fee will not be charged. Selected participants are expected to submit an academic text (3,000 to 4,000 words) before the summer school (deadline: 12 July 2024). The text should synthesize the main aspects of the presentation that you are expected to give during the Summer School. As academic institutions, the organizers encourage academic publications and aim to compile a special issue in an international peer-reviewed journal on the theme of the summer school “Spatial Transformation”. Hence, participants are asked to develop afterwards their academic texts into an academic journal paper.


Your application should include a motivation letter (max. 1 page), a short CV (max. 1 page) and an abstract of the presentation that you intend to present (max. 400 words). Selection criteria are thematic relevance (in relation to the overall theme of the Summer School) and the quality of the abstract.
Please submit your application by 01 April 2024.

Please send your application (compiled in one PDF file) to britta.bockhorn@arl-net.de.
You will receive notification of acceptance by the end of April 2024.
For further questions, please contact Dr. Britta Bockhorn, britta.bockhorn@arl-net.de, Phone +49 511 34842-25.

We look forward to receiving your application!