I am currenty a PhD student at the Department of Spatial Planning at TU Dortmund.
I previously worked for 7 years as a professional planner in Ireland and am a corporate member of both the Irish Planning Institute and the Royal Town Planning Institute.
I hold a Master's degree in Regional and Urban Planning from UCD, a Master's degree in European Urban Studies from the Bauhaus University of Weimar and a First Class Honours Bachelor's degree in Geography and Sociology from Trinity College Dublin.
My general research interests inculde the emergence of spatial planning as a distinct profession in the European context.
My particular interests involve the differing understandings of the character and role of spatial planners as professionals in different national contexts.
I am also interested in the extent to which these different understandings an be seen to be converging given recent trends including the Europeanisation of planning reguation and research as well as the development of transnational professional bodies.
The overall theme of the proposed PhD research project is how spatial planning is viewed as a distinct 'profession' in two different European countries, namely Ireland and Germany.
The proposed research will also investigate the possible emergence of a common understanding of spatial planning as a distinct profession in the wider European context.
My interest in this field originates from a two stage research project I undertook in 2012 and 2013 into to the mutual recognition of the professional qualifications of planners across Europe on behalf of the ECTP-CEU .
This research indicated that spatial planning appears to be well established as a distinct profession in United Kingdom and the Republic in Ireland which have prominent professional representative bodies that specifically identify themselves with spatial planning .
However, in many other European countries including Germany, such bodies do not seem to be as prevalent and instead of being viewed as a distinct profession, spatial planning appears to be much more closely identified with other established professions such as engineering and architecture.
The proposed research will seek explore the factors which may explain such differences in how spatial planning is understood as a distinct standalone profession in Ireland and Germany.
The examples of Ireland and Germany are viewed as being particularly relevant to the exploration of this issue as they represent ideal types not only of two very different spatial planning cultures but also of two different understandings of spatial planning as a profession.
In addition to examining the factors which may explain the emergence (or lack thereof) of spatial planning as a distinct profession in Ireland and Germany, the proposed research will also examine the possible impact of a number of specific trends on the development of planning as a distinct profession in Europe.
These trends can be seen to include:
- the 'Europeanisation' of spatial planning (arising primarily from the integrative, territorial policies of the EU)
- formal attempts by the EU to encourage the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between countries;
- the increased harmonisation of third level education via the Bologna Process as well as the emergence of English as a lingua franca for planning education and research; and
- the increasing trend towards transnational professional bodies as exemplified by the engineering architectural professions.
It is possible that these trends could result in the development of a new shared understanding of spatial planning not only as an activity but as a distinct profession.
However, it also appears possible that these trends will have only a limited impact due to the relative strength of the different prevailing 'planning cultures' which exist in Europe.
A key goal of the proposed research project will be to critically assess both of these possibilities having regard to the emergence of different understandings across planning cultures of spatial planning as a distinct profession.