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.
The motivation why I choose for the masters Society, Sustainability and Planning (SSP) & Environmental & Infrastructure Planning (EIP) was to understand and counteract the, in my view, planning and design processes that enforce personal examples of injustice and inequality in the spatial domain. I am interested in giving all actors a voice and the instruments or tools to make the physical environment better for its users.
The different courses of the masters taught me different theoretical and practical lenses of which I am still grateful of and apply in my personal and working life.
At the moment I work as a consultant Smart Cities & Smart Mobility for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. What is interesting is that I am most of the time busy with making connections between people and programme’s. I believe that both masters enabled me to do so because you get to know how the process of spatial planning works and you are aware of the content with in-depth knowledge about sustainability, planning and stakeholder involvement. This may seem a bit odd, but in my experience it appears to be a critical power and unique selling point. Most of my colleagues do not have such a background and are not always fully informed about the spatial consequences of their actions. A glimpse of programme’s I work on: 5G-Blueprint, a public-private ecosystem for smart and sustainable urban development and the Dutch National Mobility Vision 2050.
Besides, I started right after my master the company VRX which specialises in using (Immersive) Virtual Reality (IVR) for co-creative spatial planning and design. VRX produces virtual environments where citizens can experience how for instance a playground can look like based on different scenario’s. During design sessions with IVR we ask them to give their view on the scenario’s so we are able to improve the scenario’s while working towards a final design.
The important thing about both masters is that they provide you with a fruitful and professional knowledge base. After you finish your master you can work in different working fields, for different organisations and connect them to each other (energy, water, transport, housing, nature). I hope my personal experience after study and two years working underlines this and provides an (prospective) example for people interested in either or both masters.
- Roy Boertien
In June 2022, I obtained my bachelor degree in Human Geography and Planning at the University of Groningen. During my time as a bachelor student, I figured out that my interests in Planning are within the social aspects and how we can make neighborhoods and therefore cities more and more sustainable. Therefore, in September 2022, I started with the Master's program in Society, Sustainability and Planning at the University of Groningen, and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience since.
During the course of the program, I have had the opportunity to study interesting topics such as how to maximize the livability in neighborhoods, how to cope with the urge of cities becoming more sustainable and the opportunity to follow courses outside of this master´s program. So far, I can conclude that the program has been well-structured and all courses have been carefully designed to help me gain a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of the matters at hand. From discussions, lectures and the projects, I gained insight into the theories and practices that lay under the surface of society, sustainability and planning. The professors at the university are extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter, and their guidance was valuable to develop a comprehensive understanding of all the topics.
Overall, I am satisfied with my decision to pursue the Master’s program in Society, Sustainability and Planning at the University of Groningen. It has so far been an invaluable experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to deepen their knowledge on these topics.
- Giovanni Kiewiet
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.