Our research approach

Our research approach stems from an understanding of the city as a socially-produced set of relations: Its material form is dynamic, shaped by social and ecological systems that are often in conflict.

We consider planning as one practice, among many, that seeks to shape the city and its arenas of negotiation. It is embedded in—and perpetuates—sets of power relations. Both historically and currently, planning has been instrumentalized to better human living conditions, but has also brought about numerous negative effects.  At its worst, the practice has been used to oppress populations and exploit environments. The discipline has far-reaching influence that demands critical examination.

The research of the Department of Urban Planning applies interdisciplinary approaches and cooperates with partners outside of the university to understand and respond to crucial issues of urban change. Working collaboratively with diverse groups of actors and networks, we aim tocall attention to alternative knowledge systems that challenge dominant planning discourses and scientific views, while promoting a more in-depth understanding of the processes of self-organization and collaboration that also constitute our world. 

We see planning as political and we support research agendas that are decolonial, feminist, and transformative.

Our team brings together methodologies from the planning and social sciences to examine issues both locally and internationally focused. We have extensive networks with actors in the local area of Brandenburg as well as with universities and organizations throughout both the global north and south. While some of our work is located in major urban centers, we have cultivated a focus on rural areas, secondary cities, and on urban-rural boundaries. 

Currently, the Department is involved in larger cooperative projects, such as the comparative research project Hybrid Urbanisms (www.hybridurbanisms.org, funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG); the research network HochschulCampus KleinstadtForschung (www.hckf.de, funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, BMI and the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, BBSR), and research cluster Architectures of Order (www.architecturesoforder.org, funded by Loewe, the Hessian initiative for excellency in research). 

Here you can find more information about our current research projects and the dissertation research being conducted by our PhD students.