Founded in 1946, the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL ®) is a research institute for the spatial sciences performing service functions in both fundamental and applied areas of research. In terms of its organisational structure, the ARL is an interdisciplinary personal network with the task of bringing together competences within the spatial sciences. The principal function of the ARL is to be a forum to promote co-operation both between theory and practice and among regions. It is governed by a number of different ARL management organs, the ARL's central body for co-ordination and management being the ARL Headquarters. A member of the Leibniz Association, the ARL is a self-governing body under public law performing a role of supra-regional importance within Germany and of scientific value for the nation. It is funded jointly by the Federal and Land governments.
The ARL's role includes undertaking research and facilitating knowledge transfer in the field of spatial research and spatial development. As a neutral forum, it creates the framework for an interdisciplinary dialogue between theory and practice; it does this by stimulating, structuring, concentrating and promoting both basic and applied research, in most cases within interdisciplinary working groups (see the ARL Research Framework); the results of its work are made available to scholars, politicians and public administration, as well as to the general public, through ARL publications and events.
The ARL is a self-governing academy with its own management organs. These take full account of its special role and working practices.
- The General Meeting of Members consists of Members of the ARL, who advise on matters of fundamental policy and on the main focus of ARL activities. This assembly elects the Praesidium and additional Members.
- The Praesidium with three Members presides over the ARL.
- The Academic Advisory Council performs a broad external advisory and evaluationary function.
- The Board of Trustees is the ARL's supervisory body and is responsible for both administrative and technical questions relating to the work of the ARL.
The ARL's personal network is made of its Members; it also includes other experts in planning theory and planning practice from both Germany and from other countries. This is the special feature of the ARL that makes it stand out from other research institutions.