Regional Studies Special Issue / RSA Winter Conference 2018, 15-16 November, London.
Organisers: John Harrison (Loughborough University), Daniel Galland (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) and Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Newcastle University)

Planning Regional Futures
Since Regional Studies was founded in 1967, planning and planners have been central to understanding cities and regions. In the first ever issue of the journal the opening four papers all had “regional plan” or “regional planning” in their title. Yet asRegional Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, planning could be seen to face powerful challenges – professionally, intellectually, practically – in ways arguably not seen before.
Recent developments and trends have raised fundamental questions about the ‘p’ word (planning) in academic and policy circles. We can point to how planning is no longer solely the domain of professional planners but has been opened up to a diverse group of actors who are involved in place-making and place-shaping. We can observe how the study of cities and regions traditionally had a disciplinary home in planning schools (geography departments, and the like) but this link with place and space disciplines is being steadily eroded as research increasingly takes place in and through interdisciplinary research institutes. We can point to the advent of real-time modelling of cities and regions, and the challenges this poses for the type of long-term perspective that planning has traditionally afforded at a time, and in a society, where immediacy and short-termism are the watchwords. We can reflect on ‘regional planning’ and its mixed record of achievement. And we can also recognise how the link between ‘region’ and ‘planning’ has been decoupled as alternative regional (and other spatial) approaches to planning have emerged in conjunction with more networked and relational forms of place-making, and the re-imagination of the urban and the region in the current period.
This Special Issue is an intellectual call-to-arms to engage planners (and those who engage with planning) to critically explore research agendas at the intersection of planning and regional studies. More specifically, our aim is to move beyond the narrow confines of existing debate by providing a forum for debating what planning is, and should be, for in regional studies.
Proposals are therefore invited that take-up the intellectual and practical challenge of planning urban and regional futures, as well as more provocative think-pieces that challenge or defend the foundations upon which the planning tradition in regional studies is constructed.
Potential topics/themes of interest might include, but are not limited to:
  • Theoretical interventions and/or empirical studies which seek to advance new ways of (re)conceptualising regional (and other forms of spatial) planning;
  • Papers which seek to connect the changing dynamics of planning and regions to broader processes of political, economic and societal change;
  • Examination of the causes, consequences and implications of different forms of agreement-based policies or ‘contractualism’ in planning cities and regions;
  • Studies which seek to interrogate the link between planning and regional studies;
  • Those that question the scope and meaning of ‘regional’ in planning regional futures;
  • International comparative perspectives on planning city and regional futures;
  • Perspectives on the changing institutional context(s) in which planning and work on planning urban and regional futures is increasingly conducted;
  • Research which positions current approaches to planning in regional studies within a historical context and/or horizon-scanning papers outlining a next stage in this evolution;
  • Accounts which avail new insights into the implications for cities and regions of when and where planning now occurs, and who or what is planning and determining urban and regional futures.

Submission instructions
Please send your proposal to the lead guest editor, John Harrison (, copied to Daniel Galland ( and Mark Tewdwr-Jones (, by 29 June 2018.

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