12th AESOP Young Academics Conference
26 March - 29 March 2018
University of Groningen
Groningen, the Netherlands

Call for Abstracts


Navigating Change

Planning for societal and spatial transformations

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen is proud to host the 12th AESOP YA Conference in March 2018. This conference aims to look for insights into how various disciplines within planning, and related to planning, are dealing with change. We invite researchers and practitioners dealing with environmental, technological, population and political change. Attention is paid to how these processes are conceptualised and which planning responses are promoted. Additionally, the conference aims to ask how is it possible to diversify planning approaches that deal with various forms of (positive or negative) change, and questions how they impact society and affect people’s every-day lives. We wish to examine both the analytical and normative dimensions across various disciplines within and closely related to planning. We therefore aim to contribute to interdisciplinary exchange within planning related research and practice on navigating change.

The conference is a four day event consisting of three keynote talks (Maarten Hajer and Philip McCann already confirmed), parallel sessions for young academics to present their research, two parallel workshops and a fieldtrip.  In the parallel sessions participants will benefit from the insight of a track chair that is renowned in his/her field, and the feedback of a discussant. The proposed tracks are: environmental change, technological change, population change, political change, and planning approaches for change. Each of these tracks also relates to central themes, such as social, cultural and spatial transformation. Therefore, abstracts related to these central themes are welcome to submit to any of the tracks. We will consider modifying the tracks in order to do justice to the approved abstracts, and we aim to end up with four official conference tracks.

The conference is free of charge to members of the AESOP YA Network (registration for the network is free on the website). We initially envisaged offering travel grant awards to participants who were travelling from afar and needed further support in order to participate in the conference. This is something that has not been done previously and was dependent on receiving sufficient conference sponsorship, which was uncertain for a long time. We received sufficient sponsorship to award 1 travel grant award specifically for video abstracts. We then judged the video abstracts based on quality and their timely submission by the deadline date. Those who has been awarded a travel grant award has been notified. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the conference organisers at [email protected]

More detailed overview of proposed tracks:


Environmental Change

Sudden shocks (such as flooding and earthquake disasters) and more slowly emerging changes (climate change) demonstrate how the natural environment is in flux. Planners are trying to find sustainable solutions to these changes at various time-scales (short-term vs. long-term), geographical scales (local vs. global) and functional scales (e.g. sectoral vs. integral). To illustrate, planners have been focusing on disaster response, adaptation, increasing (community) resilience and contributing to broader socio-technical transitions such as the energy transition. What have these concepts brought us until now? And what is their potential for planning? This track is open to papers that provide insights into the creation of more sustainable and resilient socio-ecological and socio-technical systems and the role of planning in this.


Technological Change

Society and, by extension, our living environment are experiencing ongoing changes due to technological developments such as robotics, e-transportation and IT applications. In an increasingly globalised society these changes can spread fast. Whereas some developments have already demonstrated their potential to be disruptive to places (e.g. AirBnB, Uber and related platforms for the sharing economy), the impact of other developments is yet to be seen (e.g. self-driving cars). Whether we, as planners, can use new technology to create innovative and smart urban and rural areas is the central focus of this track. Accordingly, we welcome papers that investigate the impact of various technological innovations on public space, as well as spatial effects of globalisation and increased mobility. We are also interested in planning processes and research methods that utilise new technologies, for example, related to Geographical Information Systems.


Population Change

While some cities are rapidly growing, the ‘move to the city’ also means that less urbanised areas are confronted with population decline. This also affects the population composition: Europe faces, for instance, both an ageing population and dynamic migration flows. These variations of change pose challenges to the general well-being in these areas, such as public health and the accessibility of services. How can planners develop fit-for-purpose strategies that can either accommodate growth or address decline? To understand these population changes, as well as to identify appropriate strategies, this track welcomes papers that address the urban-rural divide, propose suggestions for both ‘planning without growth’ and ‘planning for growth’, and place-based strategies that enhance inhabitants’ well-being.


Political change

The current political-institutional landscape has changed considerably. Processes of decentralisation and globalisation (e.g. through the European Union) have led to a multi-level governance landscape in which different levels of government interact. Simultaneously, promising civic initiatives are launched by social movements, both locally and globally, that emphasise the self-organising capacities of communities and regions. These initiatives are further enhanced by governments under the umbrella term of the ‘Big Society’. Some research hints upon emerging ‘geographies of discontent’ in which differences among inhabitants are growing. This track aims to explore the mutual relationships between political-institutional changes and established planning systems. Do these systems still account for these political changes, for instance, in terms of social justice and legitimacy? Do we need to reconsider the role of the planner in this?


Planning approaches for change

Planning is inherently concerned about the future. Its early focus was predominantly on extrapolating current trends, but more recently it has acknowledged more fundamental future uncertainties. Consequently, the ‘toolbox’ of planners continues to grow by advancing existing planning approaches and introducing new planning approaches that incorporate more fundamental change. We question the extent to which the current planning toolbox is equipped for dealing with change, and whether these tools also work in different settings (e.g. areas that face either growth or decline). This track is especially interested in (theoretical) papers that bring forward tools and approaches to help navigate change. Furthermore, this track will explore if such approaches are either expert-based, community-based, or a mixture of both. Topics in this track can include, but are not limited to, institutional design, scenario planning, serious games, research by design, self-organisation, social learning, and co-creative planning strategies.


Important Dates

We're not accepting any more abstracts, since both deadlines have been passed.

  • Extended deadline for (video) abstracts: Monday 13th November 2017

  • Notification of Acceptance: 18th December 2017, because of the extended deadline

  • Full Paper Submission: 31st January 2018