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The Urban & Regional Planning Research (URPLAN) represents a cross-disciplinary group of researchers with expertise in planning theory, cultural, economic and human geography, environmental planning and urban and regional studies.
The research is concerned with themes recognized as crucial to the governing and development of cities, regions and places: change-ability, strategic and participatory planning. Trained in all main traditions of planning and with experience from urban and regional planning practice, our research includes inspiration from theories of assemblage, evolutionary government and responsive planning theory, and have increasingly come to use affect, discourse, rhetoric, culture, milieu, and strife as approaches to the study of politics and planning.

Selected publications

Hautala J. & Nordström P. (2019) Creative city, mobility and creativity: Finnish artists in Berlin. Mobilities.

Knudsen, Jon P., Schulze-Krogh, Ann Camilla & Normann, Roger (2019): Smart Specialization – Norwegian Adoptions.Journal of the Knowledge Economy.

Mikaela Vasstrøm & Roger Normann (2019) The role of local government in rural communities: culture-based development strategies, Local Government Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2019.1590200

Knudsen, J. P. (2018). Towards a new spatial perspective–Norwegian politics at the crossroadsNorsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography, 1-15.

Cruickshank, J. (2017): Local hegemonies resisting a green shift and what to do about it: the introduction of a regional park in southern Norway

Jon P. Knudsen (2017): Vicarious habitation – reinterpreting the role of peripheral living in a Nordic context, European Planning Studies, DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2017.1361589

Vasstrøm, M. (2017) Opening or reproducing understandings: the action research role in wicked situations, In: Johnsen, H.C.J., Hauge, E. S., Magnussen M. L., Ennals, R., (eds.) Applied Social Science Research in a Regional Knowledge System - Balancing validity, meaning and convenience, Routledge.

Cruickshank, J. (2016): Is culture-led redevelopment relevant for rural planners? The risk of adopting urban theories in rural settings. International Journal of Cultural Policy. DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2016.1178732.

Lysgård, H.K. (2016) The ‘actually existing’ cultural policy and culture-led strategies of rural places and small towns. Journal of Rural Studies, 44(2016), pp. 1-11.

Normann, R., Johnsen, H.C.G., Knudsen, J.P, Vasstrøm, M., and Johnsen, I.G, (2016) Emergence of regional leadership – a field approach, Regional Studies, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2016.1182146

Pløger J., (2016) Conflict and agonim, Michael Gunder, Ali Madanipour & Vanessa Watson (eds) ‘Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory’, London, Routledge, 7000 words (deadline 30.11.15, to be published Spring 2017).

Hidle, Knut. 2014. Politics, planning and homes in a world city. Urban Studies. 51: 224-226. doi: 10.1177/0042098013508986

Billington Mary Genevieve, Karlsen James Tommy, Mathisen Line, Pettersen Inger Beate, Unfolding the relationship between resilient firms and the region (2017). European Planning Studies ISSN 0965-4313. 25 (3), s 425 - 442 doi: 10.1080/09654313.2016.1276886

Ongoing projects

(More on the Norwegian page)

WINDPLAN: Public Participation in Wind power planning – challenges and opportunities (Søknad til NFR- ENERGIX)

A profound challenge faced by modern society is how to involve and maintain the engagement of all parts and dimensions of society contributing towards a more sustainable future. Nowhere is this felt more profoundly than in issues of climate change and transitions to low carbon systems; wind power development not least. Norway has some of the best wind resource areas in Europe. However, wind power is strongly conflicted, and Norway is lagging behind other countries in wind power development. Existing governance responses have not yet answered the challenges. On the contrary international research indicates how new policy directions of increased hierarchical steering may themselves have been part of the conflict. The dilemma thereby appears as a contradiction between high governmental support for renewable energy and local opposition and rejection of proposed projects. Despite the scale of the problem, there is a lack of in-depth knowledge on public acceptance and opinions of wind power in current Norwegian social research.

The aim of WINDPLAN is to broaden our understanding of current wind power development conflicts in Norway. The study critically explores current wind power development in Norway between policies, planning rationalities and local community understandings, and analyzes how existing arenas for public participation are framed, filled, opened and closed in national policy discourses and in actual case studies of wind power planning. To understand the dynamics of social acceptability, the project learns from policy development in UK and DK as well as case studies in Denmark where different policy trajectories and experimental approaches to wind power development have developed high social acceptability. The findings form basis for a collaborative research dialogue workshop with policy-makers developers, local officials and citizens from DK and Norway exploring new potential conceptual models for public participation in Norwegian wind power development.

PhD project about challenges related to sustainable urban and regional development in the southern part of Norway

This PhD-project is about challenges related to sustainable urban and regional development in the southern part of Norway. More specifically the focus is on planning practice and what kind of perceptions that lies within the individual planner as they set out to find solutions to new sustainable challenges.
What kind of measures are needed for urban and regional development if we are to reach a more sustainable society? How do we create the right kind of measures, and do we know how to work with these kinds of challenges? Challenges related to climate and sustainability is just as relevant for the regions as it is for the cities, but the challenges might be of a different character depending on where the planning actor is situated. Unwrapping these challenges and questioning how they affect the planner's perspective on opportunities and limitations in relation to sustainability forms the foundation of this project. In continuation with this, sustainability is to be understood as an abstract concept. What does it mean when cities and regions aim to become more sustainable? Different actors have different ways of understanding and working with the concept. This might lead to challenges when one is to co-operate across different fields to develop both new ideas and solutions. What the individual planner perceives as important, relevant and possible might vary. The co-creation of knowledge, and mediation of existing knowledge, in regards to sustainability is therefore the next step.
The PhD-project will use theories about meaning-making and place-making within the context of planning with the aim of exploring how planners negotiate sustainability in deliberations with others. What happens when differing perspectives come together to negotiate the meaning of sustainability and how does this negotiation influence the planners work locally? That is the core question of the project.
The project will last for three years, and is led by PhD research fellow Rachel Berglund.

Previous projects

(Most are described in Norwegian only; see the Norwegian page).

CUBARU Cultural Based Rural Development (2012-2017)

The project investigates the potential of using culture and cultural industries as a development strategy in small rural municipalities. In this way we attempt to fill a gap in both culture-based development studies where the rural to a large extent has been neglected, and in rural development studies where the cultural to a large extent have been neglected.

The project is divided into two modules, where we first will reveal how a strategy for culture-led development has emerged in four carefully selected municipalities in the interior of the Agder region. In the second module we will reveal the organising capacity in the municipalities for performing such culture-led development strategies.

The main question will deal with the socio-economic impacts of culture and cultural industries and the broader field of culture are raised concerning different aspects of the society. But the project also cover issues concerning the potential of culture as an engine in place development/local development. The project will provide applied knowledge about how relevant theories and practices about culture-based development strategies are in small rural communities in rural Agder. The research results will be relevant and applicable for the county and municipal governments at Agder who have anchored cultural approaches in their development strategies.

Cultural policy and urban planning on the edge

– institutional and cultural challenges facing the foundation “Cultiva” financed by UiA (2008 – 2011).