Research department DYNAMICS 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
16. July | 2019

Recently, the federal commission on “Equal Living Conditions” reported considerable regional inequalities in Germany. Rural regions, in particular, suffer from poor education and employment opportunities, lower incomes and shortages in the provision of public and private services. These observations, however, are not specific for Germany. Many rural regions across Europe face challenges such as a lack of medical practices, village shops, schools and public service provision. In this situation, expectations rest on a relatively new type of organization: social enterprises. A new book explores the role of social enterprises in rural spaces. more info

IRS Seminar
23. July | 2019
Untertitel IRS Seminar with Bianka Plüschke-Altof and Kadri Leetmaa and examples presented by Benjamin Schaarwächter and Fabian Schroth

All over Europe rural areas are often affected by out-migration, peripheralisation and a growing backlog in (digital) infrastructure and innovation dynamics. At the same time there are examples of villages in which innovative initiatives develop new, situation- and problem-specific local solutions. The workshop opens the debate on current developments in Estonian and German rural areas, discussing both challenges and innovative opportunities. more infos