SITRAP is a resource centre for the development of teaching metholodology in spatial planning. The aim is better teaching and learning across various professions such as landscape architecture, town and regional planning and property development. Centre of Excellence in Education funding is allocated over 5 years (2023 -2027) with a total framework of approximately NOK 35 million. The funds will be used on various sub-projects which are described under the centre's three strategic areas.
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SITRAP will, based on teaching, research and practice, develop methods for better teaching and learning. The centre's main task is to document and further develop good experiences from teaching and contribute to innovation by providing creative input into pilots and development projects.
SITRAP shall contribute to professional interaction and cooperation with other national and international actors. The centre's activities, experiences and results are to be disseminated to various teaching environments within the Faculty of Landscape and Society, across the faculties at NMBU and to other national educations in planning. SITRAP shall have ambitions to qualify for Centre for Excellence in Education and Teaching in the field of spatial planning.
(Dean of the Faculty of Landscape and Society, NMBU - December 2018)
The Centres for Excellence in Higher Education (SFU) initiative was established in 2010 and is financed by the Ministry of Education and Research in Norway. The scheme is administered by the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills. The SFU initiative was established to:
- contribute to the development of outstanding quality in Norwegian higher education
- highlight the fact that teaching and research are equally important activities for universities and university colleges.
A significant element of the initiative is to promote excellence in R&D-based education. The SFU initiative is designed to further and reward the work that takes place in the interaction between students, academic staff, support services, the labour market, professional bodies and the wider society, as well as the knowledge base of educational activities. The initiative seeks to contribute to developing new forms of student involvement and partnership. Read more.
In 2022, 28 applications to obtain SFU status were assessed. Three of these were successful, including the application from SITRAP at NMBU's Faculty of Landscape and Society.
SITRAP has an annual budget of around NOK 6.5 million. Half is from NMBU and the rest comes from the SFU initiative. The status is awarded for five years, and can be extended for another five years after a mid-term evaluation.
Spatial planning is a common term for professions that work purposefully to find future solutions for issues related to a defined area.
The target group is both students and teachers at Norwegian educational institutions and international partners, as well as the range of professionals who practice in the subject.
We are concerned with what the various professions have in common and not what separates them, and often creates conflicts in planning processes. The intention is to understand how practitioners in the various professions apply their professional knowledge, how they learn, both individually and in collaboration with others, and develop professional security. The ambition is to use this insight to develop a better transdisciplinary practice already in teaching. By transdisciplinary practice we mean the use of methods, techniques and thinking that manage to synthesize across different scientific specialist knowledge, experiences and political opinions and frameworks.
By 2028, we will have achieved:
- A Comprehensive didactic knowledge of how complex situations from real life can affect teaching and learning.
- Study programs that offer a range of different learning methods, with a focus on planning tools and techniques, transdisciplinary co-creation and integrated problem solving
- Teachers who inspire students to learn how to learn, as a fundamental skill in dealing with complex problems, preparing them to take a leading role in the green shift.
- Students with self-confidence in dealing with unclear and rapidly changing situations.
- Institutional recognition of knowledge about didactics in spatial planning plays a key role for strategic priorities (in faculty, departments and ministries).
- FUS Forum for education in social planning (leader)
- DOGA (Tor Inge Hjemdal)
- KS (Henning Berby)
- Viken FK (Per Albert Kierulf)
- Nordland FK (Heidi Ramsvik)
- Kristiansand municipality (Knut Felberg)
- Centre for Property (Even Stenvåg Leira)
- Asplan Viak as (Per Einar Saxegaard)
- Drammen municipalty (Lene Basma)
- SEVU NMBU (Vigdis Johnsen)
- NMBU Learning Centre (Mike Moulton)
- Urban Lab (Viktor Talgø Sivertsen)
- NMBU Faculty of Landscape and Society (Leader of the Education Committee)
Competence in spatial planning is not achieved by a defined syllabus, but by the students’ transition into their profession. How they experience their capacities and competences as students will have a strong impact on their future practices.
Initiatives within this strategic area should involve students developing and reflecting over their own learning and our teaching practices to ensure that the education meets, and grows from, their needs.
Through the education, the students must be prepared that the problems and solutions of the future are not obvious and that there are few absolute conclusions or ready-made recipes.
They must be encouraged to 'learn to learn'. Complex challenges must be handled with the help of a large amount of research-based knowledge from subjects that they themselves have not studied. They must gain relevant experience in applying varied techniques and methods to assess this specialist knowledge against each other.
All the projects and activities in this focus area will be evaluated in terms of the learning outcome for both students and other involved actors.
Interdisciplinary master project (AP1)
The interdisciplinary master project is an offer to students who want to conduct their final master thesis (spring semester) in a learning fellowship with students and supervisors from different study programs in order to explore a common topical issue relating to sustainable development. Students from all master programs at NMBU can attend.
Seed-funding for supporting student-initiated activities (AP2)
Seed-funding in the form of financial support to students who, on their own initiative, seek academic or professional experiences beyond a formal study program, like organising field studies or workshops, conference participation, summer schools etc. Funding is provided for 4-5 initiatives per semester. The aim is to encourage and support student active learning.
Helpdesk for digital project work (AP3)
The helpdesk for digital project work is a service un by students, for students who need help to get started using digital tools or acquire more advanced digital skills. A team of academic staff and students employed as learning assistants will have a special responsibility to monitor the development of digitalization within the practice of spatial planning, guide the students into this part of the professional education and advise on the faculty's policy in this area.
Student-led Urban Lab
Urban Lab is a student-initiated and student-run arena arena for testing out ideas within place making and land use development, where students get in contact with both practitioners and researchers. Four times a year, an Urban Lab is organized as a work shop or design contest with an inspirational intro lecture and final competition. Urban Lab was established in 2021 with support from SITRAP and funds first from NMBU (Funds for innovative teaching) followed by funds from HK-dir (Program for increased work relevance in higher education) from 2022 until 2024.
The academic environment around SITRAP has a strong tradition of collaboration with a number of experts in the related professions. This is a strength that can be utilized and developed beyond what we do today. We can, for example, offer opportunities to develop training in planning-oriented leadership and build a culture of entrepreneurship among our students. Initiatives within this strategic area will facilitate new relationships between education and practice, along with knowledge about practical learning.
Planners give professional advice to those who make political decisions. Students can only gain insights into what this side of their future practice entails by involving and integrating various social actors into their studies.
National student competition in spatial development
The national student competition is a further development of Urban Lab and focuses more explicitly on the sustainable development of spatial communities. The competition is open to all students within the field of planning in Norway. The competition aims to inspire interdisciplinary project collaboration and innovative co-creation. The students organize their teams and carry out the competition outside of normal study time. The competition requires students to demonstrate an understanding of the presented problems, proposed solutions and a description/reflection on how the team worked together.
Action research on vocational learning
Through this sub-project, SITRAP will gain better insight into what planners experience from their education when they investigate problems and search for solutions. We seek to develop practical knowledge. This will take place through meetings, discussion and observation. The goal is a more structured understanding of planners in their professional practice. Participants reflect on how and why education is within various situations. This involves a number of methods, techniques, activities and procedures that are integrated into planning processes.
Collaboration to contribute to better planning
This is a 3-year project financed by the HK-dir program Measures for increased work relevance in higher education. The purpose is to develop, test and evaluate teaching modules that can contribute to real competence for the implementation of planning activities, with a particular focus on the involvement of children and young people.
Through testing, developing and evaluating projects and activities in the other two strategy areas, we shall generate empirical evidence for subject-specific didactic development. Initiatives within this strategic area shall contribute to increased understanding of all the various aspects of learning within spatial planning.
Design thinking and other methods in project development
This development work focused on how an interdisciplinary group of people manage to co-create and avoid destructive conflicts. The project builds on previous formative dialogue research and experiential learning.
Interactive learning archive
The archive will help to increase our understand of the complex learning processes that form part of transdisciplinary practice. The archive shall collect and disseminate various types of documented didactic initiatives and experiences, regardless of format (e.g. video, slide presentations, academic notes and articles), and document ongoing work across the various learning pathways in the related fields.
Development of an Examen facultatum in spatial planning
Development of an Ex.Fac in spatial planning is pedagogical development work that builds on the material from the learning archive. The aim is to develop a proposal for an introductory course across our study programs in planning.
Building an international network
SITRAP aims to reinforce, strengthen and expand an international network of institutions and researchers who can contribute to raising SITRAP's leadership in didactic development within spatial planning.
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