Crossing over with Complexity: Co-evolution in Planning

Crossing over with Complexity: Co-evolution in Planning

AESOP Complexity Group

12-14. April 2017, Ghent, Belgium

Spatial planning today increasingly operates in a fuzzy, non-linear and dynamic world, characterized by a diffused and globally networked society. The complexity sciences have found a receptive ear with spatial planners and governance experts who try to address and embrace this evolving and multiple world (Boelens & De Roo, 2014). According to Isabelle Stengers (2015), complexity is an experimental science, which makes us think, feel, imagine, act… In that way, its application to spatial planning and governance thus opens up many new possibilities for planning theory and practice. It offers as much a metaphorical (also called sematic by its criticists) vocabulary as a pragmatist orientation on concrete operational perspectives, and hand-on experience in ongoing planning processes – opening up to the emergence of new narratives (Stengers, 2015; Hillier, 2010). In other words, complexity enables planners to act in co-evolution with an ever evolving world of unexpected and undefined becoming.

Moreover, the complexity sciences fit spatial planning and governance through its eminently trans-disciplinary relevance. Complexity sciences have been developed out of, and influential to domains ranging from biology, ecology, geography, economy, sociology, brain sciences, cognitive sciences, psychology and psychotherapy, medical sciences, sociology etc. Complexity has not necessarily brought these distinctive disciplines towards convergence, but rather opened up to a diversity and differentiation of connections and unprecedented cross-overs between them, including the domain of spatial planning and governance and the disciplines and milieus planners come across Moreover, complexity enables cross-overs and couplings between theory and practice, temporality and permanence, lay and professionals, design and planning, human and nature, to name just a few… In other words, complexity enables planners to act in co-evolution with a multitude of domains and milieus, and to generate productive co-evolution between theory and practice as well.

For this conference, we specifically invite papers that emphasize and scrutinize these forms of co-evolution, by focusing on cross-overs and co-evolution between multiple disciplines and domains, between theory and practice, and by focusing on the ability of planners (or: the capacities planners need) to create productive co-evolutions in a world of undefined becoming. Also, participants are encourages to explore any not yet addressed cross-overs, that might open up any concealments that exist today in the application of the complexity sciences to spatial planning and governance (such as issues of power and politics…).

Important dates

Extended deadline for abstract submission: 16th of October 2016

Date of notification of acceptance: End of October 2016

Deadline for submitting full papers: 5th of March 2017


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