Professional didactics is the field where pedagogic theory and methods meets theory and methods of professional practice. It answers questions like: what are we doing? why and how are we doing it?; framing all reflections that can be associated with a field and its teaching. These reflections give valuable insight in to a field’s particularities and legitimacy, as well as how it can be taught and developed. Didactics is thus the learning process that enables us to act as professionals. In spatial planning, no professional works in isolation. Their common concerns across disciplines include: dealing with society’s spatial dimension, anticipating the future, and assuming «maker» roles in preparing strategies, plans, and projects. Each profession’s discipline further has its peculiar distinctions - landscape architecture is inextricably linked to natural science and aesthetics, urban- and regional planning to law and politics, and real estate development to economics and property rights. Each holds knowledge necessary for considering possible futures. Every spatial object these professionals co-make has an “opportunity space” framed by three “fuzzy” boundaries: spatial conditions, regulatory boundaries, and economical limitations. SITRAP’s challenge is to explore how to take advantage of the strong and sometimes hidden or tacit knowledge embedded in these professions’ making and to determine what it means to establish a field for professional didactics in spatial planning.
Educating a new generation of planners involves changing the thinking and working habits of students and educators. While not all spatial planners are designers, design thinking can provide methods for co-creation and transdisciplinary approaches to construing problems, creating solutions, and managing implementation. This requires an increasingly synergistic, strategic, emergent, collaborative, transdisciplinary, multicultural, socially responsible, and participatory understanding of design. Beyond that, digital tools are a fundamental part of the new generations’ habits and skills that challenge us as educators. Digitalization will increasingly have significant impacts on how spatial planners analyse data, organise work, and communicate verbally and visually. Existing digital tools in the field contribute to our transdisciplinary ambition, such as BIM (building information modelling) and GIS (geographical information systems) which allow collaborative and improved processes across multiple “maker” professions.
Based upon the identified gaps between our existing situation and the centre’s vision, we define three strategic areas: increasing student-active learning and involvement in education (S1); utilizing better our professional network (S2); and developing a professional didactics (S3). Projects and activities within S1 and S2 will provide baseline data for S3. (fig.3)
SITRAP will particularly focus on the needs of future professionals in socio-spatial transitions. What kinds of skills are needed? How can we train students to develop these skills? In practice, many professions work together, but often with different views of “the world”. This co-working is often plagued by competitive and conflictual methods, goals, and solutions. Planning theory describes this arena as a “battlefield,” and focuses upon managing conflicts, defining roles, and negotiating different power structures. We have different focus – we propose rather to establish what the different professions involved in spatial planning have in common and how their peculiarities can be exploited. This proposal aims to develop shared interdisciplinary methods for co-creation, as are needed to achieve transdisciplinary solutions to wicked problems for a sustainable, but also unknown, future.