Exploring its ethical, activist and methodological implications
This volume is a special issue with contributions that stem from the collaborations of the 2018 AESOP PhD workshop, held 5-8 July at Tjärö island, Sweden. The overarching aim of the workshop was to establish inclusive spaces for dialogue and collaboration between PhD students across countries and continents on issues that pertained to the AESOP’s 2018 congress theme “Making space for hope”. Furthermore the PhD students got the chance to learn from the invited mentors with long experience from the academic planning field. The theme drew from a recognition of the severe challenges facing the world at present, for example, challenges coupled with the climate crisis, growing social inequalities, rapid population growth in urban regions and de-population trends in peripheral regions. Planning, considered broadly, is an activity that is striving to create better futures. It is an activity for maintaining predictability and stability whilst responding to societal challenges. Yet, it has been pointed out by policy makers as well as by researchers that planning is unable to effectively respond to these challenges with its traditional sets of approaches, calling instead for new and innovative planning methods. But this conference call asks not only for innovative approaches, but also for a more “hopeful research agenda” that challenges the “dystopian” views on the world that is represented in much research, in which cities are “...depicted as dark and dysfunctional places wrecked by endless capitalist crises and social-ecological catastrophes” (Prakas, 2010 in Pow, 2015, p. 464; cf. Torisson, 2015). The AESOP congress local organising committee argued that:
“...planning should contribute to making space for hope [and we] need to go beyond mainstream politics, negation and cynicism. Instead planning debates ought to “excavate” the hidden and submerged desires for better future by exploring hope and optimism” (AESOP bid 2015, emphasis added).