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AESOP Thematic Groups are working groups on specific themes established in order to create more effective platforms for debate and discussion amongst AESOP members.

  • Institutional patronage
  • Rights to use the AESOP logo
  • Rights to include the words ‘AESOP Thematic Group’ in the name
  • Support for their logistical activities via the main AESOP website
  • Possibility to propose topics of events (i.e. Congresses) by the TGs
  • Possibility of financial support from AESOP (requirements apply)
  • AESOP quality assurance
  • Affiliation of the final results with AESOP
  • Usage of AESOP’s platform of communication
The application for a new Thematic Group should include:
  • Name of TG
  • Name and affiliation of the Coordinator
  • List of interested participants (including at least three AESOP members from different schools)
  • Short description of the area of interest
  • Main aims
  • Main topics to be discussed
  • Anticipated outcomes
  • Planned activities
AESOP Council of Representatives RESOLUTION 12.II.2019


Coordinated by: Dr. Stefano Cozzolino
This TG aims to facilitate lively debates on relevant ethical urban planning issues. It organizes monthly colloquiums, an annual conference and provides an open space for members to initiate debates and workshops.

The TG address three main themes:
  • the interrelation between justice and spatial governance;
  • how to include values in urban design and planning as well as the correlation between ethics and spatial configurations (this includes, for example, distributive issues, access to resources, freedom, etc.);
  • different types of ethical approaches in planning and their operationalization.


    Coordinated by: Dr. Olivier Sykes
    The French and British Planning Studies Group was founded in 1998, initially by British academics who had undertaken research in France. Very soon after its foundation it developed into a dialogue between French and British academics undertaking research in the other country, which allowed in-depth discussion based on the very extensive knowledge of its members.


    Coordinated by: Prof. Michele Campagna
    The GOAL: improve the communication and the knowledge between AESOP members on what is the state of the art in the methodologies and the practice of New Technologies in Planning. The Tg's activities aims to foster the disciplinary reflection with regards to planning education, research and practice.

    Nordic Planning

    Coordinated by: Prof. Raine Mäntysalo
    The Thematic Group ‘Nordic Planning’ (PLANNORD) is aimed as a platform for networking and exchange of knowledge, concerning spatial planning in the Nordic context faced with global trends and challenges. The purpose of the Thematic Group is to share experiences and insights on contemporary and emerging planning challenges, in connection to various development conditions and different scales of spatial planning and governance, in particular at local-regional levels. The overarching aim is to promote spatial planning research and education excellence within and on the Nordic context, and to facilitate related peer support for the academic community, while also facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration between the academia and planning practice. The main form of activity are bi-annual symposia, hosted by each Nordic country in turn. Additionally, the Thematic Group engages in arranging and facilitating PhD education, by arranging PhD workshops at least bi-annually, and sharing educational support and information of open PhD courses and seminars arranged by Nordic schools of planning individually. The aim of PhD education collaboration is to improve the quality of PhD-level planning education, share education experiences, study programs and promote development of curricula, and to support networking among young academics. The Thematic Group has established collaboration with the newly founded Nordic Journal of Urban Studies.

    Planning and Complexity

    Coordinated by: Dr. Ward Rauws
    The aim of the group is to contribute to the creation and maintenance of a network of lecturers and researchers, who are willing to explore and debate new developments influencing both planning theory and practice in the light of non-linearity, resilience, adaptivity, complexity, complexity thinking and complex adaptice systems.


    Coordinated by: Enrico Gualini
    The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group aims at bringing together different perspectives on conflicts around urban planned developments, with a focus on the role planning practices may play both in defining/framing and in possibly solving/reframing conflicts. The purpose of the Planning/Conflict thematic group is to offer a durable framework for scholarly exchange, focussing on the empirical analysis of planning conflicts and promoting their critical/interpretive inquiry, in order to highlight what planning conflicts can teach us:
    • about changing features of urban development policies and trends and their impact on local societies and communities;
    • about changing conditions under which urban planning practices take place;
    • about the effectiveness and legitimacy of established planning practices in dealing with conflicts;
    • about the transformative potential that might be brought to light by facing planning conflicts;
    • about the potential productive and innovative contribution of agonistic practices in view of a democratization of planning.

    Planning Education

    Coordinated by: Dr Andrea Frank
    Part of the AESOP mission – and encapsulated in the Association’s charter is - to ‘promote the development of teaching … in the field of planning’ and to ‘promote a progressive approach to planning education in schools’. While AESOP has had long standing activities to support these goals through a dedicated conference track, an Excellence in Teaching prize and establishing a ‘core curriculum’ and expert pool – we feel that a Thematic Group could further promote these aims and bolster AESOP’s contributions to the field. In particular, two strands of related discourses will be pursued by this group.

    The first strand focusses on the promotion of discussion and dialogue of planning curricula and subject-specific pedagogical developments.

    A second, related but no less important strand of work and discussions will explore the implications (threats and opportunities) for planning education within the context of emerging discussions of new models, missions and values of/in and for higher education institutions.

    Planning, law and property rights

    Coordinated by: Dr. Linda McElduff
    Law is an essential element of planning. Statutory law, as interpreted by the courts, defines planning powers, the planning process, and the mandatory elements of binding development plans. Although the law often attributes a wide margin of discretion to the planning authority, it also limits planning powers for the protection of individual rights.

    Planning Theories

    Coordinated by: Prof.dr. Benjamin Davy
    The AESOP TG Planning Theories offers space for academic conversations on plural theories about spatial planning. We appreciate planning theories as an unfinished project. We want to understand the strategies and dynamics of theory-building. We promote the use of social, economic, political, legal, philosophical, or other theories in planning theories. We wish to understand the criteria adequate for assessing the quality of planning theories.

    The TG’s main aims are:
    • unfolding the different meanings of ‘planning’ as object and subject of planning theories;
    • contributing to a better understanding of the interconnections between planning practices, planning theories, and planning academia;
    • understanding the strategies and dynamics of theory-building in planning theories

    Planning Theories And Practices For The Global South & East

    Coordinated by: Chandrima Mukhopadhyay
    The AESOP TG Global South & East provides a platform for mutual interaction of planning scholars, researchers and practitioners from different world regions. The group members are willing to reflect on ideas, concepts, theories (including 'Southern theories'), practices, that make sense in this context. They are interested in knowing how the 'knowledge' produced in this TG can be useful for their work, no matter where they are. The group also reflects on teaching students, particularly international ones, who are travelling globally. We are equally interested to hear reactions to this group, of scholars from indigenous societies in the North.

    Public Spaces and Urban Cultures

    Coordinated by: Dr. Christine Mady
    The Aesop Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures has been founded upon an initiative of Sabine Knierbein, Ceren Sezer and Chiara Tornaghi in 2010. The aim of the group is to settle the research and design focus on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures in planning-related disciplines.

    The members of the AESOP Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures meet annually to discuss and develop approaches proposed under the group’s working topic. These meetings mostly take the form of workshops/seminars/conferences accompanied by a fieldtrip in duration of two days, and also provide an environment for engaging in a peer-to-peer discussion on the participants’ research and design projects. The meetings are organized by various types of institutions, which submit their declaration of interest for hosting an event based on the call’s theme, in close collaboration with at least one group member.

    Regional Design

    Coordinated by: Prof. Valeria Lingua
    The thematic group activities aim to explore new paths for planning at the regional and metropolitan level, in a context of governance rescaling in which spatial planning policies and practices, still traditionally anchored to rigid administrative boundaries, are now challenged to be reinvented. Processes of defining and redefining sub-regional boundaries call for spatial visioning and design for shaping the boundaries of urban regions, providing pro-active knowledge of their characteristics and trends and conceiving shared visions of their spatial development.

    The performance of regional planning and the contribution of regional design practices in these settings will be the focus of the TG, relating this performance to characteristics of the institutional context.

    Resilience and Risks Mitigation Strategies

    Coordinated by: Prof.dr. Daniel Zwangsleitner
    The Thematic Group “Resilience and Risks Mitigation Strategies – RRMS” has the overall aim to enhance debate, educational coordination, research, policies and practices on resilience strategies and risk mitigation and adaptation for sustainable spatial development within Europe.

    Sustainable Food Planning

    Coordinated by: Prof.dr. Arnold van der Valk
    This Group aims to bring together academics, policy-makers and practitioners from an international audience and provide a forum for discussion and development of sustainable food systems. Fashioning a sustainable food system is one of the most compelling challenges of the 21st Century. Because of its multi-functional character, food is an ideal medium through which to design sustainable places, be they urban, rural or per-urban places.

    Meetings are held annually, hosted in different cities. The four meetings that have been held so far have attracted between 80-100 participants and discussed a wide variety of issues within sustainable food planning. Further details of keynote speakers and all of the meeting presentations can be found in the blog posts.

    Transboundary Planning and Governance

    Coordinated by: Dr. Eva Purkarthofer
    The aim of this group is to create and grow a network of researchers interested in, broadly speaking, the Europeanisation and internationalisation of spatial planning, and the various forms it takes – the creation of new, softer planning spaces and corresponding governance arrangements, the change of policies and practices through ‘travelling ideas’ etc.

    Transportation Planning and Policy

    Coordinated by: Dr. Enrica Papa
    The Goal of this group is to create and grow a network of researchers interested in the complex interlinkages between transport behaviour, transport infrastructure, the role of technology, sustainability, governance structures and interventions.

    Urban Futures

    Coordinated by: Prof.dr. Peter Ache
    This Thematic Group aims at fostering new ideas and ways of understanding urban futures. In this sense, we encourage to consider the possible evolutions of some environmental, technological, political, social variables or conditions in the very long term and, subsequently, envision specific urban scenarios at the local, regional or global scales. These scenarios can refer, for example, to the impact of radical climate change (flooding, extreme scarcity of fresh water in given regions), pervasiveness of smart technologies or security measures, dismantling of statehood, radical modifications in current geopolitical order, massive migrations or other similar changes.

    Urban Transformation in Europe and China

    Coordinated by: Prof.dr.-ing. Yi Xin
    Since the beginning of the 21st century China and Europe are getting closer and closer. Together, European enterprises are making more and more business in China, and more and more Chinese enterprises are investing in Europe. Tourists from Europe and China like to explore the respective other region. The one-road-one belt Initiative, driven by the Chinese government is reducing geographic distance and transport time. The aim of the thematic group is to explore the potentialities of transferring European experience, both successes and failures, to China, and löearn from Chinese experince. It will confront European participants with the challenges of urban regeneration in Chinese cities, and it will give Chinese practitioners and academic planners an insight into regeneration practices in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Austria.