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Department of Spatial Planning
Prospective Students


Overview about the current selection of courses

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Wiechmann, Dennis Hardt, Dr. Letizia Imbres

This year the RUHR LECTURE is organized in cooperation with the RAG-STIFTUNG and is dedicated to the Future of the Ruhr Region. The series showcases the broad range of disciplines involved in metropolitan research in the University Alliance Ruhr (UAR): Researchers from all three universities as well as experts from various disciplines give insights into their current work. While the main focus lies on the Ruhr Region, experiences from other metropolitan regions are included in a comparative approach.

The series is part of the activities of the Network Ruhr (Urban and Regional Research Network Ruhr,

Contact and further information: metropolenforschunguaruhrde

Peter Davids

Spatial planning plays a pivotal role in nowadays flood risk governance. The recent flood events of summer 2021 in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are illustrating the need for more than just flood protection. Flood risk strategies are no longer limited to flood prevention, but also focus on protection, preparedness and recovery strategies. By combining the strategies from water management, spatial planning, urban development and social science expertise cities should become more resilient against flood risks. This integrated approach requires the involved of new actors, and also requires new roles for existing actors in flood risk governance, such as active participation of citizens.

However, when it comes to the recovery process, the role of spatial planning to build back more resilient lacks behind. After a flood event municipalities and citizens tend to focus on rapid recovery to the pre-flood vulnerable situation. The question raises what the role of planning is towards a resilient recovery of flooded urban areas.

This master project invites students to explore this role of spatial planning in flood risk governance processes when shaping resilient recovery recently flooded urban areas. Students will select a case study where they will identify actors and instruments that could contribute to a resilient reconstruction. Students will learn about the challenges and opportunities that spatial planning and flood risk governance face to reduce flood risks.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Zöpel, Prof. Karsten Zimmermann

Upper Silesia and the Ruhr region represent post-industrial regions in different evolutionary stages. In Upper Silesia, mining is still very relevant as coal is the primary source for energy production in Poland. In contrast, the Ruhr region went through several stages of structural change and transformation, including the change of landscape and urban environment and the re-constituion of the economy. Still, we can’t say that Upper Silesia is lagging behind. The environmental regeneration of the rivers and streams (i.e. the Rava river in Kattowitz) is still to be done and has by far not reached the relevance of the Emscher regeneration. The same applies for Urban Regeneration in some cities and towns. However, the mining museum in Kattowitz as a public space and driver for structural change is of extraordinary quality. Also in terms of regional governance, the new planning association, located in Kattowitz, seems to be on a promising way.

It is the goal of this M-Project to compare the two regions and to identify success factors and risks in the process of structural transformation. What has been done in the past and which are the next steps? We will give a particular emphasis on Museums: are they the sites where new ideas about the future and the past will emerge?

Universities: in both regions the universities are main drivers for regional and territorial development. What is their future role? Who has done better?

Post-coal strategies: what can Upper Silesia learn from the Ruhr?

We will do an excursion and visit cities in upper silesia (funding opportunity DAAD). Due to excellent contacts to universities, political institutions and foundations, students will have easy access with regard to interview partners and data. Eventually, we will also visits other sites such as the Museum Plein in Limburg which is considered an excellent case for a cultural institution being a main actor for regional development.

Recommended readings:

  • Benneworth, P./Charles, D./ Mandanipour, A., 2010: Building localized interactions between universities and cities through university spatial development, in: European Planning Studies 18, S. 1611-1629.
  • Brownley Raines, A. 2011. “Wandel durch (Industrie) Kultur [Change through (industrial) culture]: conservation and renewal in the Ruhrgebiet,” Planning Perspectives 26: 183-207.
  • Heidenreich, M. 2015. “The New Museum Folkwang in Essen. A Contribution to the Cultural and Economic Regeneration of the Ruhr Area?” European Planning Studies 23:1529-1547.
  • INWIS/PROGNOS 2014: Lehren aus dem Strukturwandel im Ruhrgebiet für die Regionalpolitik. Bremen/Berlin/Bochum.
  • Percy, Susan 2003: The Ruhr – from Dereliction to Recovery, in: Crouch, C./Fraser, C./ Percy, S. (Ed) Urban Regeneration in Europe, 150-165.
  • Sobala-Gwosdz, A.,/ K. Gwosdz. 2017. ““Katowice effect”? Regeneration of the site of the former Katowice coal mine through prestige cultural projects.” Urban Development Issues 56:27–40.

Robin Chang

Low-risk, incremental, short-term, inexpensive, urban intervention and potentially long-term improvement: not quite a slogan, but convincing catchphrases for which temporary use (TU) is now known (Arieff, 2011; Bishop & Williams, 2012; Elisei, D. P., 2014; Ferreri, 2015; Glick, 2012; Lydon et al., 2012; Pfeifer, 2013; URBACT, 2016). The rise of attention to small-scale, urban practices at the street and site scale are, compared to traditional and bureaucratic planning practices, easier means to “more substantial investments” and greater “larger scale efforts” (Arieff, 2011; Bishop & Williams, 2012; Colomb, 2012; Ferreri, 2015; Lydon, Bartman, Woudstra, & Khawarzad, 2012).

But how do temporary measure build or improve upon existing practices and processes? And what are the factors that drive and impede the empheral approach to urban regeneration? In this course students will be encouraged to build upon their existing knowledge of planning practices and processes and investigate the potential organizational and site-level innovations required to effectively and temporarily regenerate urban landscapes. The examination of current (and local) case studies will help students to apply their learning and contribute to practical projects.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Siedentop

Although demographic and economic growth pressures have considerably slowed down in many developed countries within the past decades, the management of urban development remains a key issue of urban and regional planning. Even countries with a low economic performance and population decline have to cope with an ongoing expansion of built-up areas – often at the expense of prime farmland or conservation areas – and the emergence of a dispersed, car-reliant and less infrastructure efficient urban form. Urban Sprawl is a global issue and – with a view on its negative externalities – a fundamental economic, social and environmental challenge.

The opportunities of urban and regional planning to reduce urban sprawl and achieve (or preserve) a compact, resource efficient urban form are heavily disputed in the scientific and political realm. Whereas as some scholars consider planning and related market interventions – often referred to as ‘urban growth management’ – as a crucial requirement for a more sustainable urbanization, others refer to negative effects of growth controls such as the inflation of land and housing prices or a spatial ‘spill over’ of land development towards less regulated rural areas.

A middle position argues that growth management policies have to provide households and businesses with sufficient developable land and to avoid a wasteful use of land resources. Urban growth management answers how much developable land is needed and where and how new development should take place. At the regional as well as urban scale concepts of compact, walkable and transit-oriented development have become influential as a normative orientation.

The main objective of this seminar is to study the practice of growth management in selected case study regions. Students will work in teams and each team elaborates a single case study. This covers an analysis of implemented policies and an evaluation of their real effects in certain domains. Potential study regions are London (UK), Melbourne (Australia), Portland (USA), Seoul (South Korea), Stuttgart (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland).


  • Bengston, D.N. et al. (2004): Public policies for managing urban growth and protecting open space. Policy instruments and lessons learned in the United States. In: Landscape and Urban Planning 69: 271-286.
  • Distelkamp, M., Mohr, K., Siedentop, S., Ulrich, P. (2011): 30-ha-Ziel realisiert. Konsequenzen des Szenarios Flächenverbrauchsreduktion auf 30 ha im Jahr 2020 für die Siedlungsentwicklung. Forschungen, Band 148. Bonn: Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung.
  • Pallagst, K. (2007): Growth management in the US: Between theory and practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Prof. Dr. Karsten Zimmermann

The rehabilitation of neighourhoods is a long standing topic in urban planning. The purpose of urban regeneration, however, has changed as new issues such as renewable energies, preparedness for climate change (Climate Improvement Districts, green infrastructure) and re-industrialization have emerged (Cities of making). In addition, we observe new governance techniques and experimental collaborative approaches. In this course, we will start with the emergence of urban regeneration in western Europe. Then, we will discuss the mentioned changes, the role and influence of EU Urban Policies and give a specific emphasis on emerging topics such as the regeneration of suburbia. We will also learn about urban regeneration in France (Politique de la Ville) and England. International students will learn about urban regeneration in Germany.

Rick Hölsgens

Sustainable urban planning is a complex challenge, that requires new governance structures and novel and inclusive approaches. In this seminar, which focus on the social and governance challenges of sustainable urban development, barriers and chances for a sustainable city planning will be examined. Innovative urban governance and participation approaches will be discussed, and the students will be encouraged to do further research in search of novel and sustainable approaches that not only cover environmental, but also social and economic challenges. The goal of this seminar is two-fold. Firstly students will learn about the complexity of urban transformation processes. And secondly, they will address these challenges with newly developed ideas and concepts for successful governance and the transformation to sustainable urban governance.

Dr. Sara Mitchell

In this seminar we are going to analyse in great depth various aspects of Advanced Urban Economics in order to obtain a better understanding of locational distributions of individuals, households, firms, capital and goods and services in cities. Students can largely decide which particular topic they find most interesting. However, it is essential that topics are analysed using state of the art scientific literature as well as empirical analysis.

Potential areas of interest could be:

  • Agglomeration of households in hip neighbourhoods and the impact on housing prices
  • Neighbourhood choice and the impact of migration on cities
  • Industrial organisation in cities
  • Anything topical which students find of interest

Vanessa Hellwig

In this seminar we are going to analyse in great depth various aspects of Digitisation in order to obtain a better understanding of the impact of the internet on our Economies and Cities in particular international interconnectedness in any forms on economic activity. One important factor is that the internet mitigates information costs considerably as well as often rendering space insignificant.

Since the seminar is available for economics students as well as students in spatial planning, students can largely decide which particular topic they find most interesting. However, it is essential that topics are analyzed using state of the art scientific literature as well as empirical analysis.

Potential areas of interest could be:

  • Does the internet render physical proximity unnecessary?
  • Is the internet replacing or complementing stationary economic activity?
  • How important is the internet for innovation?
  • How does the internet change our cities?
  • Implementation of smart city concepts and their effects
  • How do smart technologies change a city?

Robin Chang

Without a doubt, participation processes are an integral component of the contemporary planning practice. But how beyond inclusion of stakeholders for the sake of inclusion and engagement, what are the dimension necessary to consider so that planning processes and decision-making can capture the trust and value of all persons involved in the context of complex and adapting systems?

This seminar encourages students to confront the nexus between public participation with dynamic social and alternative energy systems. By seeking to address the challenges of change, the seminar aims to helps students understand current research on how communities are building adaptive capacity through shared values to improve the ability to respond to change. A Complexity thinking and Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach inform the seminar content. A real-life case study featuring the challengse of deploying decentralized, renewable energy systems in South-East Asia (in partnership with Energy Action Partners will be integrated into course-work.


  • Arnstein, Sherry R. (1969): A Ladder Of Citizen Participation. In Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35 (4), pp. 216–224. DOI: 10.1080/01944366908977225.
  • Innes, Judith Eleanor; Booher, David E. (2018): Planning with complexity. An introduction to collaborative rationality for public policy /  Judith E. Innes, David E. Booher. Second edition. London: Routledge.
  • Lasse Gerrits; Martin Wirtz: Teaching Complexity by means of Problem-Based Learning: Potential, Practice, and Pitfalls, checked on 2/16/2018.