Profile of Mr Christian Lamker University of Groningen

Christian Lamker

General research interests

planning theory, post-growth planning, sustainability, regional planning, roles in planning

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Uncertainty and Complexity in Planning Processes: Planning Theory and Requirements of Adaptation to Climate Change in Regional Planning Processes

PhD Abstract

Spatial planning as a deliberate and future-oriented activity in complex real-life situations needs context-dependent strategies to reduce the uncertainty and complexity. On the one side on available information and linkages, but on the other side also on value judge-ments, spatially relevant decisions of other stakeholders, future projections and impacts of today’s actions. It is therefore crucial to look at the different roles of planning in these processes and – especially against the back-ground of scarce human and financial re-sources – to analyse how it reduces uncertain-ty and complexity while preparing a regional plan and with the aim of making formal spa-tial determinations.
The challenges caused by climate change are not spatially limited or clearly limitable and will influence spatial development for the long-term and across generations. Known ideas and established lines of thought cannot be used without review and adjustment. Be-sides the substantial shape of planning, the question is how planning and its processes can deal with uncertainties of climate change, the complexity of responding to this challenge and the reduction of decision-relevant ele-ments is of special importance.
The core of this PhD Thesis is built by devel-oping a descriptive process model. It will be empirically tested by an innovative current process of preparing a new regional plan in the Ruhr region (Germany) against the topic of climate adaptation and different descriptive roles on the reduction of uncertainty and complexity within planning. Cornerstones are four roles from planning theory that will be elaborated, compared and analysed: technical problem solver, moderator, strategic navigator and explorer.

The aims of this PhD thesis are
• to give an overview on current discussions in planning theory on the role of plan-ning in planning processes,
• to review theoretical perspectives for re-ducing uncertainty and complexity in planning theory,
• to assemble demands of adaption to changing climate conditions for regional planning and to show the available op-tions,
• to outline and connect different ways of reacting to new challenges in a coherent descriptive process model by using de-fined roles,
• to make roles and ways of reacting empir-ically examinable,
• to test the descriptive process model and the theoretical framework in a case exami-nations in the Ruhr region and
• to enhance the model based on the case examinations, to add a contribution to the theory discussion and to the future design of planning processes.