This year, the jury for the AESOP Excellence in Teaching Prize received applications which differed very much from one other in respect to structure, contents and educational profile. The high quality of all the applications (from KU Leuven, University of Manchester, Oxford Brookes University & University of Stuttgart) and their profound heterogeneity made it very difficult to select a winner from amongst them.
The intensive debate on these ‘differences’ nurtured within the jury a reflection about aims and role of the Prize in stimulating and promoting quality in planning education in the European context. After many years of awarding high quality (and different) teaching experiences, we agreed on the need of reviewing the concept and role of the prize itself, in order to update it in the face of the changes of conditions which affect planning education in Europe today such as the severe cuts to university funding, or government demands to teach more students. In such circumstances, innovation to sustain quality in planning education is a necessity and not an optional extra. Consequently, after intensive deliberation, we decided to award two applications ex aequo, due to the different elements of innovation and quality they address respectively and which respond to distinctive aims of the prize.
In one case, the jury appreciated the innovative way to teach a very large studio class in an interactive approach, in a student-centred way without needing excessive tutor support. This is a challenge that is awaiting most of the European university courses with more demanding students and diminishing funding and resources. The interactive approach is developed by a specific and original technique, which appears well tested and which shows its efficacy in supporting "student oriented teaching".
In the other case, the jury appreciated the strong and sustained collaboration of a range of university partners in order to offer an interdisciplinary postgraduate training course in urban, regional and spatial planning. This experience shows how curricula can knit institutions together and offer students an integrated European knowledge by bringing together the expertise and perspectives of European planning academics. This sort of collaboration lies at the roots of the mission and commitment of AESOP itself.
(from the Jury's Report)