Call for Abstracts

Conference Theme

We are living in a time of change. Socio-political, economic, and environmental facts of the twentieth century do not seem to align with today’s phenomena that we are living in. Global trends are having a stronger influence on the political dynamics within and among nations, devastating outcomes of a changing climate are affecting the most vulnerable communities, the pace of global flow of capital and information is becoming a game-changer. Traditional political responses to contemporary challenges quite often prove inefficient in thoroughly understanding today’s highly complex societal settings and adequately addressing their roots.

These challenges often manifest themselves as conflicts in planning discipline. Conflict represents an important dimension that is relevant to all aspects of planning, such as spatial development, social cohesion, environmental resilience, and governance. Conflict in planning is of critical importance: if we are to improve the living conditions of the societies that are most in need, more contribution to the planning literature and its incorporation to a post (economic, political, environmental) crisis debate is urgently needed. Only then we can ensure rather an engaged and responsive (than reactive) development in cities, regions, and states that is also inclusive, flexible, adaptable, and innovative.

While most planning practitioners are often aware of conflicts in planning, it is still necessary to have an in-depth understanding of their drivers, so that planning as a discipline can be operationalized as an instrument for conflict resolution. It is also essential to acknowledge the fact that this cannot be achieved without a profound, multidisciplinary debate. This conference, therefore, aims to shed light on conflicts inherent in planning theory, policy and practice; revolving around the questions of how to relate the understanding of conflict changing aspects in planning process, what pathways of transformation may emerge from the tensions of conflict in terms of innovative social practices, new policy and disciplining orders, and how planning can play a significant role in turning conflicts into a transformative resource.

Our goal, therefore, is to provide young planning researchers and practitioners with a platform for discussion and knowledge sharing.


Track 1 – Population Conflict: Newcomers vs. Locals

Economic, political, and environmental crises have always forced many citizens to migrate to new places. The impact of the newcomers on the hosting communities and vice versa has created significant planning challenges (such as shrinking cities, housing crisis, pressure on existing infrastructure…etc.), which in turn generated a growing concern on this phenomenon by local communities. Providing adequate and coordinated responses to migration has been a struggle to many national governments as their main target is to offer solutions towards the inclusion and integration of migrants and refugees; whereas many local governments and stakeholders were able to provide these resolutions. This track raises the questions on how multidisciplinary planning approaches and the interference of them contribute to producing inclusive urban spaces for refugees and migrants as well as the local hosting communities. Contributions focused on how planning research should build up the knowledge and practice to address those conflicts are welcomed to apply.


Track 2 – Value Conflict: Experts vs. citizens

Pursuing public interest has been at the root of spatial planning policies. However, the identification of public interest shared by various communities and stakeholders has become increasingly difficult in fragmented society exposed to business interests. The position of planning experts vis-à-vis conflicting values and interests is not clear either in theory or in everyday practice. Without clear awareness of values and problems of local communities, planning practice often contributes to social conflicts as planning experts fall short of meeting the expectations of citizens. Therefore, reconciliation of the diverse interests of stakeholders in transparent processes, by acknowledging the dominant interests, forms the main component of planners´ skills. Besides, activating dialogue and citizen participation becomes a central issue when the will to communicate and participate is low so that future planning conflicts among interests of, e.g., business, tourism, ecology, and the local community should be avoided or at least mitigated. The papers submitted to this track should revolve around how effective and valid are the present methods of planning in dealing with conflicts stemming from different values.


Track 3 – Governance and Policy Conflict: Local vs. state interests

While decision-making processes shape the physical space and place, they unsettle the normative framing of citizenship and belonging, values, and ethics. Political change and transformation, for instance, can easily challenge the ideological foundations of local-level flexibility and national-level centrality, especially when institutions and procedures of governance fail in meeting the expectations of local communities. This track aims to understand and promote a rational approach to address many planning questions/inquiries about which issues require state intervention and which should be left up to local officials. The topics discussed by submitted should focus on what is the role of planning in mediating conflicts between the changing leadership of a place and the nature of the local power; and how to bring progressive shifts between multilevel power relations and planning conflicts?


Track 4 – Cultural Conflict: Preserving the past vs. future needs.

While there is a consensus among planners that cities with distinctive cultural identity should be protected as a whole through systematic urban planning processes, cities across the world are experiencing a remarkable renaissance, and today’s urban reality is transforming cities globally through new development. However, cultural heritage preservation and urban planning show up often as controversial and conflicting. To accommodate viewpoints, both preservation and planning require further investigation so that the goal of protecting local identity is accomplished. What are the needed tools and methods for implementation of such integrating approaches, and how adequate they should be to foster sustainable development? This track invites participants to discuss planning challenges of preserving and managing cultural heritage in its different aspects (built environment, natural environment…etc) in the face of changing expectations, needs, and requirements of modern-day society.


Track 5 - Environmental conflict: Civilization vs. natural environment

Unprecedented rates of socio-demographic and socio-economic changes worldwide in conjunction with shifts in climate create a massive strain on the environment and therefore produce numerous direct and indirect environmental conflicts. Resilient and future-proof places ready for environmental challenges (e.g., climate change-induced temperature and sea levels changing trends, pollution, soil degradation and desertification, environmental effects of urban heat islands, and increased incidences of natural disasters) are highly needed to be approached by planning. However, the growth of red tape bureaucratic delay and/or lack of regulatory responses in many countries lead to environmental impacts outcomes that endanger human health and well-being to a great extent. This track invites participants to discuss planning interventions needs for lowering the pressure of society on the physical environment as well as planning solutions for making cities and regions more resilient to changes in the global environment.