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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.

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.