Research departmentDYNAMICS OF COMMUNICATION, KNOWLEDGE AND SPATIAL DEVELOPMENT

The research department focuses on communicative action and knowledge processes in spatial transformations. It examines how communicative action facilitates the emergence and dissemination of new spatial knowledge, social processes and material configurations of space. The current fields of work in the department include: spatial transformations by innovative processes in structurally weak areas; by digitalisation processes in the context of urban planning and design as well as by processes of climate change adaptation in cities and regions.

With regard to structurally weak areas, the department examines how innovative ideas, practices and projects of spatial development emerge, become established and spread. These ideas, practices and projects are also referred to as "social innovations". In this context, attention is given to the innovation-driven communicative action of local policymakers, public authorities, civil society actors, and social entrepreneurs. The investigation of digitalised forms of action in the fields of urban planning and design is focused on the question of how far changes in planning practices itself, but also in the constitution of public spaces (e.g. by digitalised processes of communicative planning) as well as in material and spatial arrangements can be observed. The research on climate change examines how global challenges due to climate impacts are perceived and discursively processed in different ways on a national, regional or local level, in particular how socio-cultural factors shape the ways vulnerability is perceived and resilience is constructed.

Ongoing lead project

Smart cities are often talked about – but smart villages? Rural areas, particularly in structurally weak regions, are often affected by out-migration and a growing backlog in digital infrastructure and innovation dynamics. Both trends reinforce each other. However, there are examples of villages in which innovative initiatives do not just strive to compensate for deficits, but develop new, situation- and problem-specific local solutions. In doing so, they combine new services with creative uses of digital technologies and sometimes improved digital infrastructures. In this lead project, such initiatives, driven by ‘smart villagers’, are analysed from the perspective of ‘societal innovations’, yet with an emphasis on the aspects of mediatization and digitalization. more

News
10. November | 2020

With the corona pandemic at the latest, the importance of digital tools, the corresponding technical equipment and the ability to handle them has increased, also in rural areas. However, new solution models for life in rural areas that smart applications could enable have been experiencing for some time. A new special issue in the journal "Spatial research and Planning" aims to discuss and systematise the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation in rural areas. more info

News
28. September | 2020

For a long time, rural areas were considered culturally detached and economically unattractive, but this bad image is losing its force. Research in the spatial and social sciences is now increasingly interested in the innovative power of rural areas and rural entrepreneurship. The EU project RurAction looked at social enterprises in rural areas and the social innovations they generate to address typical rural problems. An international web conference and a web policy roundtable held in September of 2020 discussed new scientific findings as well as recommendations for policy makers and practitioners on the ground. more info