The master programme in Society, Sustainability and Planning centres around understanding the human factor in spatial interventions.
Society, Sustainability and Planning promotes a novel understanding of how to transform the built environment in collaboration with its users. Our courses pay attention to the social, cultural, political, and economic environment in which decision-making on spatial interventions takes place.
The emergence of self-organizing citizen collectives is a critical change in today's societal strive for sustainable places and futures. SSP emphasizes the role of citizens in shaping places. We interrogate why different stakeholders and social groups embrace, contest, or reject spatial changes, and how we can design their surroundings in such a way that it meets their diverse needs. We present spatial justice is a leading principle to design cities of the future. Moreover, we pay explicit attention to the ways in which spatial planning can contribute to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, such as healthy ageing, a clean environment, and eliminating poverty, in collaboration with citizens and civil society actors.
Our programme highlights the social aspects of the global transition towards a more sustainable society. Sustainability challenges are interconnected with the communities that face them. As such, our students learn to adopt new methodological and interactive approaches to problem-solving in different contexts. This exchange does not only take place outside of the classroom, but also within our small-scale, international department.
You learn to analyze, develop and negotiate innovative institutional designs and policy solutions to support and lead complex transformations in light of international sustainability and planning debates. Core of our focus on the human factor in society, sustainability and planning is using real-life cases and working with and engaging people in real-world living labs.
Through this framework, our graduates are able to utilize spatial planning in solving urgent social problems, such as inequality and climate change. Our alumni are critical and engaged consultants and researchers, who are in high demand on the labour market. They are employed by NGOs, consultancies, governments, and businesses.
If you are looking for a two year programme and are interested in doing research, you can also integrate the master with our two year top rated Research Master in Spatial Sciences.
I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning
In the academic year of 2016-2017, I completed the MSc Socio-spatial Planning. I chose this specific Master for a variety of reasons, the most important being the strong connection to current planning practices and the theoretical insights it provided me. I wrote my Master's thesis about municipal border reconstruction, or municipal mergers in short. I enjoyed the freedom of choosing my own research topic, which helped me to stay motivated during the process.
The courses, such as City Matters, Planning Theory and Revitalizing Neighbourhoods, provided me with the tools needed to conduct independent research but also a theoretical background that helped me to build my own theoretical framework for the thesis. I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning practice, whilst always keeping an eye out for the people in social and sociological processes. This still helps me today in my job as a planning professional in different municipalities.
Hilko Oosterhuis is currently working in two municipalities on sustainability and development projects as a trainee at BMC, which is a consulting company for the local, regional and the national government.
The master has been an eye opener into the many possibilities to consider as we create better living spaces
As an advocate for public transport in a car dependent island, my hometown, Puerto Rico, I came to Groningen looking for a degree that would offer a view into a change of planning paradigm.
The Master Socio-Spatial Planning has certainly offered me such an opportunity, starting with the complexity theory in the Planning Theory course and the validation of the sociological knowledge addressing the unequal power relations that generate social injustice through the planning practice in City Matters.
Also, the study of Dutch planning tradition and the inclusion of civic society in the design of public policies in Engaging Society for Spatial Transformation and Revitalizing Neighbourhoods courses has been very insightful.
The many workshops and excursion to various infrastructure projects in and out of the Netherlands has also been an eye opener into the many possibilities to consider as we create better living spaces.
The Master provided me with the necessary insights to understand and actively contribute to changes within the dynamic built environment
The Master 'Socio-Spatial Planning' provided me with the necessary insights to understand and actively contribute to changes within the dynamic built environment, after obtaining a technical (bachelor) degree in construction engineering
What I like about the program, next to the excellent quality education it provides, is the degree of flexibility to select courses that fit my interests. Through the broad mix of courses I could select in addition to the core courses, I gained strong analytical and research capabilities that prepared me for my current job. Furthermore, I developed a strategic mindset, which allows me to have a birds-eye view perspective - something I now actively use in my professional life to convince and connect actors in different decision-making processes.
Furthermore, the program offered a unique intimacy with regard to the size of the group and the connection with the practice. I experienced a great deal of interaction among students, professors and alumni, which had beneficial effects on my professional development and perspective as an urban planner.
Wolbert van der Haar is currently a consultant and project manager at Arcadis Design & Consultancy, Department of Real Estate and Urban Development.