Thematic groups

AESOP Thematic Groups are working groups on specific themes established in order to create more effective platforms for debate and discussion amongst AESOP members.

Ways in which AESOP can support the TGs :

  • Institutional patronage,
  • Rights to the logo and to include the words ‘AESOP Thematic Group’ in the name,
  • Support for their logistical activities via the main AESOP website,
  • Possibility to propose topics of events (i.e. Congresses) by the TGs,
  • Possibility of financial support from AESOP (with some more requirements),
  • AESOP quality assurance,
  • Affiliation of the final results with AESOP,
  • Usage of AESOP’s platform of communication.


Thematic Groups shall deliver annual report to the Secretary General by the end of January.
Application form for AESOP funding is available here.


The application for a new Thematic Group should include:

  • Name of TG,
  • Name and affiliation of the Coordinator,
  • List of interested participants (including at least three AESOP members from different schools),
  • Short description of the area of interest,
  • Main aims,
  • Main topics to be discussed,
  • Anticipated outcomes,
  • Planned activities.

Additional information and the .word forms can be obtained from the Secretary General.

Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC): Spatial Planning Education in Climate Action, 3-16 Nov 2021

Published at: 14 October 2021

This Urban Thinkers Campus brings academics and students from many of the world’s best schools of spatial planning together to share their experiences in developing and delivering curricula on planning for climate action. Outcome: A knowledge base of innovative curricula and pedagogical practices that will support the wider dissemination of climate action as a major theme in planning schools, discourses and practices. Three online pleanry sessions and activities from 3- 16 Nov 2021.
Registeration open:

Event hosts: University of Twente, the Netherlands in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, the Planners for Climate Action network and representatives of several partner universities.

Planning and Complexity

The aim of the group is to contribute to the creation and maintenance of a network of lecturers and researchers, who are willing to explore and debate new developments influencing both planning theory and practice in the light of non-linearity, resilience, adaptivity, complexity, complexity thinking and complex adaptice systems.

Coordinated by: Dr. Ward Rauws

New Technologies & Planning

The GOAL: improve the communication and the knowledge between AESOP members on what is the state of the art, the methodologies and the practice of New Technologies in Planning.

Coordinated by: Prof Michele Campagna

Planning, law and property rights

Law is an essential element of planning. Statutory law, as interpreted by the courts, defines planning powers, the planning process, and the mandatory elements of binding development plans. Although the law often attributes a wide margin of discretion to the planning authority, it also limits planning powers for the protection of individual rights.

Coordinated by: Dr Linda McElduff

Transboundary Spaces, Policy Diffusion, Planning Cultures

The aim of this group is to create and grow a network of researchers interested in, broadly speaking, the Europeanisation and internationalisation of spatial planning, and the various forms it takes – the creation of new, softer planning spaces and corresponding governance arrangements, the change of policies and practices through ‘travelling ideas’ etc.

Coordinated by: Prof. Dr. Giancarlo Cotella

Transportation Planning and Policy

The Goal of this group is to create and grow a network of researchers interested in the complex interlinkages between transport behaviour, transport infrastructure, the role of technology, sustainability, governance structures and interventions.

Coordinated by: Dr Enrica Papa

Ethics, Values and Planning

This TG aims to facilitate lively debates on relevant ethical urban planning issues. It organizes monthly colloquiums, an annual conference and provides an open space for members to initiate debates and workshops.

The TG address three main themes:

1) the interrelation between justice and spatial governance;

2) how to include values in urban design and planning as well as the correlation between ethics and spatial configurations (this includes, for example, distributive issues, access to resources, freedom, etc.);

3) different types of ethical approaches in planning and their operationalization.

If you would like to join the TG or would like to discuss an idea, please contact Stefano Cozzolino ( or Arend Jonkman (

Coordinated by: Dr. Arend Jonkman

Resilience and Risks Mitigation Strategies

The Thematic Group “Resilience and Risks Mitigation Strategies – RRMS” has the overall aim to enhance debate, educational coordination, research, policies and practices on resilience strategies and risk mitigation and adaptation for sustainable spatial development within Europe

Coordinated by: Prof. Dr. Richard Sliuzas

French and British Planning Studies Group

French and British Planning Studies Group


Groupe d'Etudes sur l'Urbanisme Français et Britannique

 2020 - 2021


Coordinated by: Dr Olivier Sykes

Sustainable Food Planning


This Group aims to bring together academics, policy-makers and practitioners from an international audience and provide a forum for discussion and development of sustainable food systems.  Fashioning a sustainable food system is one of the most compelling challenges of the 21st Century.  Because of its multi-functional character, food is an ideal medium through which to design sustainable places, be they urban, rural or per-urban places.


Meetings are held annually, hosted in different cities.  The four meetings that have been held so far have attracted between 80-100 participants and discussed a wide variety of issues within sustainable food planning.  Further details of keynote speakers and all of the meeting presentations can be found in the blog posts.

Coordinated by: Prof. Dr. Arnold van der Valk

Public Spaces and Urban Cultures

About the AESOP TG Public Spaces and Urban Cultures’

The AESOP Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures has been initiated after the Annual Meeting of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) in Liverpool (UK) in 2009. In April 2010 the initiative has been recognized as a new thematic group Public Space and Urban Cultures by AESOP. In 2015, the group has decided on self-organized management structure which is updated every two years:

AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures – Self-Organized Management Network

Group Coordination

2023-2021 Stefania Ragozino (CNR-IRISS National Research Council of Italy) and Tihomir Viderman (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg)
2025-2023 Tihomir Viderman (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg) and secondary volunteer is to be elected

Self Organized Management
Patricia Aelbrecht (University of Cardiff)
Nadia Charalambous (University of Cyprus)
Gabriella Esposito De Vita (CNR-IRISS National Research Council of Italy)
Sabine Knierbein (Technische Universität Wien)
Christine Mady (Notre Dame University - Louaize)
Matej Nikšič (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia)
Stefania Ragozino (CNR-IRISS National Research Council of Italy)
Nikolai Roskamm (University of Applied Sciences Erfurt)
Mohamed Saleh (University of Groningen)
Sara Santos Cruz (Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto)
Ceren Sezer (RWTH Aachen University, Germany)
Socrates Stratis (University of Cyprus)
Tihomir Viderman (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg)
Burcu Yigit Turan (Swedish University)

Advisory Board 
Ali Madanipour (University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK); Sophie Watson (Open University, UK); Sabine Knierbein (TU Vienna, Austria); Gabriella Esposito De Vita (CNR-IRISS National Research Council of Italy); Ceren Sezer (RWTH Aachen University, Germany); Christine Mady (Notre Dame University - Louaize, Lebanon)

The Aesop Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures has been founded upon an initiative of Sabine Knierbein, Ceren Sezer and Chiara Tornaghi in 2010. The aim of the group is to settle the research and design focus on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures in planning-related disciplines. For more information about the thematic group, please visit the group’s official blog: For questions please send an e-mail to:

Coordinated by: Dr Stefania Ragozino


The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group aims at bringing together different perspectives on conflicts around urban planned developments, with a focus on the role planning practices may play both in defining/framing and in possibly solving/reframing conflicts. The purpose of the Planning/Conflict thematic group is to offer a durable framework for scholarly exchange, focussing on the empirical analysis of planning conflicts and promoting their critical/interpretive inquiry, in order to highlight what planning conflicts can teach us:

  • about changing features of urban development policies and trends and their impact on local societies and communities;
  • about changing conditions under which urban planning practices take place;
  • about the effectiveness and legitimacy of established planning practices in dealing with conflicts;
  • about the transformative potential that might be brought to light by facing planning conflicts;
  • about the potential productive and innovative contribution of agonistic practices in view of a democratization of planning.

The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group is open to participants’ proposals for joint initiatives: Please do not hesitate to advance proposals!

Would you like to contribute and/or to keep informed?

  • please log into the AESOP website in order to post a comment
  • please sign the application form                            or sent an email to                   planningconflict[at]  to subscribe to the thematic group´s mailing list

Coordinated by: Enrico Gualini

AESOP Discussion on the New Urban Agenda

This is blog describing AESOP involvement in Habitat III Process.


Coordinated by: Dr Lauren Andres

Urban Futures

This Thematic Group aims at fostering new ideas and ways of understanding urban futures. In this sense, we encourage to consider the possible evolutions of some environmental, technological, political, social variables or conditions in the very long term and, subsequently, envision specific urban scenarios at the local, regional or global scales. These scenarios can refer, for example, to the impact of radical climate change (flooding, extreme scarcity of fresh water in given regions), pervasiveness of smart technologies or security measures, dismantling of statehood, radical modifications in current geopolitical order, massive migrations or other similar changes.


Coordinated by: Prof. Dr. Peter Ache

Planning Education

2019 - 2020 Plans

On behalf of Artur R. Pires and myself – as coordinators for the TG Planning education – a huge thank you for the keen interest and enthusiasm in regards to the Planning Education Thematic Group.

We had two short lunchtime meetings during the 2019 AESOP congress (9-13 July) which were filled with wonderfully lively dialogue and discussion. It was fantastic to feel the energy amongst the group members attending.

Over the next year we want to progress the ideas muted at the meetings.

The main one was to develop an AESOP Planning Educators Workshop. Conceptually, this is would be mirroring other Association activities such as the PhD workshop (AESOP) or the Writing Workshop for new scholars (ACSP, our sister association in North America). If this is successful – it would be then the goal to have this develop into a regular, annual activity of AESOP in the long term as a means to increase the profile of planning education/pedagogy in and for spatial planning. This workshop would hit all three aspects that Artur and I proposed as high level aims of the TG as well as suggestions of participants regarding publishing our work, building community (and doing research/projects together with funding).

Initial ideas are:

+ 2-day workshop that consists of a mix of theoretical inputs and practical activities

+ select a theme or two to keep the event focused (e.g. transformational pedagogies; community interaction/involvement; digital; internationalization; co-learning; becoming/being?)

+ organized in a location that is fairly easy to get to.

+ interested individuals apply for places with a Limited number of participants so that there is time and space to engage in deeper conversations.

+ apply of TG funding and other sources to make the workshop free (i.e. catering/materials/facilitator) (with travel and accommodation to be paid by participants)

It would be great to get a few volunteers and establish a working/task group to develop the Workshop idea in the next 2 months.

If you are interested – please email Artur and me ( and ) no later than 31 July to let us know and we can start a dialogue and arrange perhaps a skype meeting to develop the details to a level at which we can apply for funding.

Finally, in the spirit of disseminating what is going on in terms of pedagogical research and sharing resources – please do let us know of future events, activities or publications in respect to planning education that we can share amongst our blossoming community of practice.  We will work with the AESOP executive to see how we can find a suitable means to make this martial available via the website/social media. We do hope also you post your news via the AESOP news pages (if your institution is an AESOP member you can register and submit news about events via the AESOP website).

Kind regards and looking forward to working with all of you

Andrea and Artur

Coordinated by: Dr Andrea Frank

REGIONAL DESIGN: Impacts on Territorial Governance and Planning Practice

The thematic group activities aim to explore new paths for planning at the regional and metropolitan level, in a context of governance rescaling in which spatial planning policies and practices, still traditionally anchored to rigid administrative boundaries, are now challenged to be reinvented.

Processes of defining and redefining sub-regional boundaries call for spatial visioning and design for shaping the boundaries of urban regions, providing pro-active knowledge of their characteristics and trends and conceiving shared visions of their spatial development.

The performance of regional planning and the contribution of regional design practices in these settings will be the focus of the TG, relating this performance to characteristics of the institutional context.

Coordinated by: Associate Professor Valeria Lingua

Urban Transformation in Europe and China

Since the beginning of the 21st century China and Europe are getting closer and closer. Together, European enterprises are making more and more business in China, and more and more Chinese enterprises are investing in Europe. Tourists from Europe and China like to explore the respective other region. The one-road-one belt Initiative, driven by the Chinese government is reducing geographic distance and transport time.

The aim of the thematic group is to explore the potentialities of transferring European experience, both successes and failures, to China, and löearn from Chinese experince. It will confront European participants with the challenges of urban regeneration in Chinese cities, and it will give Chinese practitioners and academic planners an insight into regeneration practices in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Austria.

Coordinated by: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Yi Xin

Nordic Planning

The Thematic Group ‘Nordic Planning’ (PLANNORD) is aimed as a platform for networking and exchange of knowledge, concerning spatial planning in the Nordic context faced with global trends and challenges. The purpose of the Thematic Group is to share experiences and insights on contemporary and emerging planning challenges, in connection to various development conditions and different scales of spatial planning and governance, in particular at local-regional levels. The overarching aim is to promote spatial planning research and education excellence within and on the Nordic context, and to facilitate related peer support for the academic community, while also facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration between the academia and planning practice. The main form of activity are bi-annual symposia, hosted by each Nordic country in turn.

Additionally, the Thematic Group engages in arranging and facilitating PhD education, by arranging PhD workshops at least bi-annually, and sharing educational support and information of open PhD courses and seminars arranged by Nordic schools of planning individually. The aim of PhD education collaboration is to improve the quality of PhD-level planning education, share education experiences, study programs and promote development of curricula, and to support networking among young academics.
The Thematic Group has established collaboration with the newly founded Nordic Journal of Urban Studies.
Please visit our website at:

Coordinated by: Professor Raine Mäntysalo

Planning Theories


Copyright: Pixabay

The AESOP TG Planning Theories offers space for academic conversations on plural theories about spatial planning. We appreciate planning theories as an unfinished project. We want to understand the strategies and dynamics of theory-building. We promote the use of social, economic, political, legal, philosophical, or other theories in planning theories. We wish to understand the criteria adequate for assessing the quality of planning theories. 

The TG’s main aims are: 

    • unfolding the different meanings of ‘planning’ as object and subject of planning theories
    • contributing to a better understanding of the interconnections between planning practices, planning theories, and planning academia
    • understanding the strategies and dynamics of theory-building in planning theories 

Coordinated by: Prof. Dr. Benjamin Davy