Teaching in the broad field of planning is one of the main activities of AESOP Member Schools. Thus, in 2002, AESOP introduced a prize, which recognizes and encourages Excellence in Teaching. Through this award, AESOP celebrates and disseminates innovative practices in teaching in its Member Schools. The broad aim of the Prize is to stimulate the development of planning courses or groups of courses in order to better prepare students for their forthcoming practice, to further educate practitioners, and to promote the development of a critical perspective. The specific purpose of the prize is to promote and encourage planning schools to innovate in ways that enhance the knowledge and skills necessary to respond to new global planning challenges. The Award provides an important opportunity to disseminate effective practice and importantly to celebrate teaching quality amongst AESOP members.



Teaching Resilience, Resilient Teaching  

The theme of this year’s AESOP Prize for Excellence in Teaching is ‘Teaching Resilience, Resilient Teaching’. As regards ‘Teaching Resilience’ the Prize Committee encouraged entries from modules that employ innovative approaches to explore the concept of resilience in planning and its practical applications.  The focus on ‘Resilient Teaching’ is designed in part to take into account the particular circumstances of the current 2019 – 2020 academic session under which normal modes of teaching are suspended across higher education institutions in many parts of the globe.  Three modules were entered for the Prize in 2020: Planning Studio (Aalto University); Landscape Character, Context and Change (University College Cork); Designing Resilience in Asia (Technical University of Darmstadt). 



Winning Entry

Technical University of Darmstadt

Designing Resilience in Asia

After a thorough review of the applications and the collation of the scores from the Committee members the 2020 AESOP Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to the Technical University of Darmstadt for the module ‘Designing Resilience in Asia’.

This module strongly addressed the theme of the call in 2020 and is grounded in an ambitious collaborative approach to addressing international issues in planning education. The module sits within the context of TU Darmstadt’s membership of the International Research Programme "Designing Resilience in Asia". Its stated objective is to promote preventive holistic design paradigms, and multi scale approaches, that engender the physical, cultural and social resiliencies of Asian communities in light of natural disasters. The content of module clearly engages learners with interdisciplinary aspects of resilience taking into account not only technical approaches to resilience (e.g. sustainable agriculture; water catchment management; early Warning Systems; disaster risk assessment; the role of mobile phones and new technologies etc. ), but also social, ecological, cultural and economic dimensions, notably the social resilience of local populations. It thus dealt with resilience issues on a broad basis. This was achieved through collaboration with an impressive array of  international stakeholders within a complex international setting. Students develop concepts of resilience for countries in Asia with a different location providing the focus each year (2015 - Xinxingang, China / 2016 Valenzuela, The Philippines / 2017 Bangkok, Thailand / 2018 Chennai, India / 2019 Naga City, The Philippines). The importance of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development goals and the New Urban Agenda are recognised as are links to practice. The module includes a trip to Singapore, involves local stakeholders from that country, and engages major development aid institutions in Germany.


Highly Commended – University College Cork, ‘Landscape Character, Context and Change’

The Committee felt this was an innovative module as regards its integration of an appreciation of landscape into core planning thinking and teaching. Whereas often design reflection is solely approached from an urban design perspective, the module’s focus on landscape allowed the value of design methods for aspects of conservation, resilience, and the maintenance of place quality to be explored. This was felt to be a ‘rather unique’ take on design-based education. There were very good links to the European and international scales e.g. the European Landscape Convention informed the module content and techniques such as landscape assessment were included. The  ‘resilience of teaching’ aspect was well-covered in the application and the module has very good learner feedback.


Commended - Aalto University, ‘Planning Studio’

The Committee appreciated the module’s structure, strong pedagogical framework,  organisation, and strong links to theory (e.g. the use of notions of the temporal framing of planning and ‘strategic incrementalism’ as guiding concepts). There were very good links to practice too achieved through the format of working with different municipalities each year. This allowed coverage of a wide range of real life issues which can be faced by a municipality and gave learners and excellent opportunity to gain first hand experience and knowledge . The module culminates in the students producing a strategic land use and transport plan and vision for the selected municipality. The  ‘resilience of teaching’ aspect was well-covered.