The Department of Regional Planning has three areas of research:

"Common good objectives and instruments of regional planning"

Regional planning and development are confronted with social change and controversies to which they have to find new answers. These include the renaissance of the debate on equivalence of living conditions (especially in rural areas and urban-rural contexts), the discourse on justice in planning practice, the demands on regional planning resulting from the climate crisis, the federal government's "Heimat discourse", and debates on the legitimacy and juridification of regional planning. In theoretical terms, substantivist, procedural and antagonistic understandings of the common good are relevant here; in planning practice terms, the implications of social change for formal and informal instruments of regional planning and development are at stake.

"Planning tasks and practices in transformation processes"

This research area is intended to address the challenges for spatial development that arise from regional transformation processes. The planned measures to phase out lignite and to support structural change in Lusatia represent such a challenge. The task of shaping a regional transformation requires that the actors responsible for regional planning and development adopt new perspectives and adapt their instruments. Lusatia can be qualified as a model region for urgent questions of the "Great Transformation" towards sustainable development. It is a prototype for those European regions in which there is a simultaneous dissimilarity: while traditional structures such as infrastructures, industries or ways of thinking will still be important (for a certain period of time), the region has been in a process of transition for a long time, which has already produced a large number of future-oriented initiatives. Innovations and exnovations are equally relevant. The overlapping of "old" and "new" energy spaces is typical of industrialised regions facing a possible transformation to more climate-friendly economic and living models. Comparable radical changes are to be expected through processes of digitalisation. In conceptual terms, the research line aims to understand the importance of spatial development in shaping regional transformation processes in a systematic way. To this end, the traditions of thought of transformation and transition research on the one hand and planning theory on the other are to be related to each other.

"New regionalisations"

Regional planning and development play a role in regionalisation processes and in the emergence of new types of regional spatial constructs. New forms of regionalisation are developing in a complex institutional structure of different governance arenas. Particularly striking examples are border regions, metropolitan regions or regions of integrated rural development. The spread of regionalising practices (e.g. the "Regionale" approach) can also be explored. Conceptual approaches of spatial, social and cultural sciences are used to understand spatial formations. Approaches of institutional and governance research, "border studies" and research on planning and social innovations as well as on key actors are used to analyse the practices of regionalisation.