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Socio-spatial Planning


The MSc Socio-Spatial Planning (SSP) program follows the research agenda of the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment as well as the Faculty of Spatial Sciences in more general. This research agenda focuses on the relationships between wellbeing of people (with different identity markers, backgrounds, values, wishes), institutional innovation (improved governance and policy making), and spatial transformation (changing landscapes, cities and regions).

The emphasis in Socio-Spatial Planning related research lies on the social side of planning. ‘Ordinary’ people and local communities are often neglected by planners and the focus tends to be more dominantly on policy, governance, strategic planning and legal frameworks. Research conducted by researchers active in Socio-Spatial Planning program aims to understand the ‘HUMAN FACTOR’' in spatial planning: why different groups of people embrace, contest or reject spatial changes? how do they take the lead in shaping their own environment and how to align such initiatives with more formal plan- and policy-making? how do spatial interventions influence different stakeholders and their well-being? and how to engage society effectively in spatial transformations?

The core ambitions of the research that informs the teaching program of Master SSP are to:

  • Contribute to planning for liveable, resilient and resourceful communities and places
  • Be able to create coalitions and stimulate collaboration among different stakeholders
  • Design policy solutions for an inclusive and sustainable society

Some examples of recent research topics of the researchers closely connected tothe program of Socio-Spatial Planning include:

  • Liveability, resilience and resourceful communities (prof. Ina Horlings, dr. Elen-Maarja Trell)
  • (Spatial) justice and urban (in)equality (dr. Barend Wind)
  • Civic initiatives and self-governance (prof. Gert de Roo, dr. Ward Rauws, dr. Elen-Maarja Trell)
  • Design-dialogues and vision-building (dr. Terry van Dijk)
  • Place-based development, place-branding and leadership (prof. Ina Horlings)
  • Age-friendly neighbourhoods (dr. Ward Rauws)
  • Coalition building and collaborative planning (prof. Ina Horlings)

The articles written on the above topics by the staff members are often used as direct input for lectures and as key literature for the core courses. The Department also facilitates connecting Master thesis research to the ongoing research of staff members.

Featured researchers

  • Opleidingsvideo

    Master Socio-spatial Planning

    – Opleidingsvideo
  • Testimonial van Kasimir Hagendoorn

    Working on the safety of the Netherlands

    Hi! I'm Kasimir and currently working on the safety of the Netherlands. Safety, because I'm working on a project for strengthening of the Afsluitdijk, a waterworks icon of the Netherlands. And as is widely known, the Netherlands are largely below sea level. Therefore, it is of great importance to keep our waterworks in perfect condition in line with future climatological changes.

    Within the project 'the Afsluitdijk' (literally meaning 'closing dike'), I'm responsible for the stakeholder management. I have to foresee possible future interventions of stakeholder-issues and anticipate on it. This means that I have to deal with a great variety of actors and even so stakes, which makes it a very challenging and exciting job.

    Although most of the week I'm working on this project, I have several other projects I work on as well. This is possible, because my employer is not the Dutch government, but Procap, a middle-sized consultancy and project management company. I started to work for Procap in 2012 as a project manager and consultant, almost 2 years after I graduated.

    So how did I get to where I am now? First we have to go back to 2008, the time when I had to choose a master. I knew that I was interested in the brick world and its environment. Therefore, I decided to start with two masters in Groningen: Spatial Planning and Real Estate Studies. In my opinion both studies are complementary to each other and I enjoyed the focus of the micro and macro of both masters. Because in the end, isn't it nowadays about an integral approach?

    After my graduation in 2010, I started with an internship at an engineering company. I did this, because I thought an internship would help me to get acquainted with the work field and to support the decision to start to work in the field I'm interested in. During my internship I conducted my master research and apparently I did well, as the engineering company said they would be happy to hire me as an advisor. Which I was willing to do, but first I had to go to NYC for a fellowship, where I got accepted as a visiting fellow for the period of three months.  When I got back from NYC, unfortunately, the engineering company couldn't offer me the job anymore because they had to fire 300 people. So this is the moment where I had to start to search for a job,

    I started to contact the people in the field of spatial planning and real estate who I already knew and who could possibly help me. Doing so, I managed to get several interviews. However, due to the economic crisis, most companies were not willing to take the risk of hiring a new person. Except for Procap, who had just fired some people, but were interested in having me as a research intern. I was eager to help them for a couple of months as an intern, but right after we were about to close the deal, a social housing company contacted me and asked whether I was interested to work on Bonaire, an island in the Caribbean. I couldn't refuse this offer. I had a great time and learned a lot, but after one year it was time to move on and I mentioned to Procap I was going back to the Netherlands. This is when Procap contacted me again, and we managed to agree on the right terms, which makes that I've been happily working for them since 2012.  

    After all I feel the internship helped me to expand my network, helped me to understand how to be a professional and use my knowledge and skills I gained during my studies and extracurricular activities. As a student there's so much you don't know and the way companies work you can only discover while working for them. 

    – Kasimir Hagendoorn
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