In 2018, the Chair of Spatial Planning (KPP) celebrated two important anniversaries. It was 60 years since Prof. Saša Sedlar had established the Chair of Municipal Technology – KPP’s predecessor – at the former Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Geodesy, and 45 years since the establishment of the Interdisciplinary Post‑graduate Study of Spatial and Urban Planning (IPŠPUP).
To commemorate the two occasions, a roundtable was convened on November 9, 2018:
Spatial Planners of the 21st Century and their Role in Managing and Planning in Slovenian Territory,
which was accompanied with a scientific monograph with the same title (you can download it from the link on the right). We were proud to host 136 participants from Slovenia and abroad. Representatives of six ministries and other state institutions, Slovenian municipalities, administrative units, regional development agencies, non-governmental organisations and societies, academic and research communities, and companies attended the event, among whom there were many IPŠPUP graduates. We were pleased to see many students from various study programmes attending the event as well.
We were particularly honoured to welcome representatives from the faculties in Zagreb, Osijek, Banja Luka and Belgrade and a representative from the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County from neighbouring Croatia, who also contributed to the monograph and attended the roundtable.
The event was divided into two parts. The first part was focused on the Chair of Spatial Planning and the Spatial Planning study programme, from their beginnings to the present, and looking forward to the future.
Part 1 – Introductory address
- Prof. Dr. Krunoslav Šmit, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Zagreb
- Prof. Dr. Dejan Filipović, Dean of the Faculty of Geography of the University of Belgrade
- Assoc. Prof. Dr. Brankica Milojević, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Banja Luka
- Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marija Maruna, Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade
- Assist. Prof. Dr. Dina Stober, Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Osijek
Prof. dr. Andrej Pogačnik, long-standing Head of KPP and IPŠPUP on Achievements and Challenges over the Years:
Prof. Dr. Andrej Pogačnik: CHAIR OF SPATIAL PLANNING: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES OVER THE YEARS
Establishment and functioning of the Chair of Spatial Planning
The establishment of the Chair of Spatial Planning at the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering of the University of Ljubljana was the consequence of rapid urbanisation in Slovenia in the late 1960s. At the time, large new towns were built – Nova Gorica, Velenje, Murska Sobota, as well as many new residential quarters and industrial areas in Ljubljana, Maribor, Kranj, and Koper, while neighbourhoods with single-family houses in the suburbs and the countryside grew uncontrollably. The leading architects, i.e. urban planners, of the time, such as Ravnikar, Mihevc, Novak, and Grabrijan, were successful in urban planning using the principles of functionalism, but there were no experts in municipal infrastructure, transport, urban economics, sociology, law, environmental protection. The profile of interdisciplinary-oriented urban planners was to be educated by the Chair of Municipal Technology, which was newly established in 1958 ‒ this was the predecessor of the Chair of Spatial Planning. Formally it was included in the Geodetic and Municipal Department of the Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Geodesy (UL FAGG), which was established two years previously (1956), which provided the appropriate academic environment for its successful operation. The chair fostered connections particularly with chairs and institutes for municipal economics, transport, and hydraulic engineering of the former UL FAGG. The contacts with the Chair of Urbanism at the Department of Architecture were weak and ceased completely after the separation of architecture and civil engineering and establishment of an independent faculty after Slovenia’s independence.
The founder and the first head of the chair was architect – professor Saša Sedlar, politically and professionally renowned personality in the then Socialist Republic of Slovenia. The professor left a mark on Slovenian, Yugoslav, and also international environments. He prepared the first lecture notes for a contemporary urban design textbook, following the model of Serbian colleagues Mirkovič and Maksimovič. He was very popular among students, but his lectures only reached a narrow circle of young surveyors and municipal civil engineers. Along with Prof. Sedlar, Assist. Novak was also involved at the start of the Chair’s operation. Lecturers from other chairs, departments, or faculties were included in the teaching process – geographer Vrišek, legal expert T. Klemenčič, transport engineer Zemljič, landscape architect Ogrin, and others.
The education in urbanism continued to take shape and in 1964 the Chair for Urban Planning was established. Assist. Novak was replaced in 1972 by Assist. Pogačnik with a Masters degree from the United States and with practical experience in the then Ljubljana Urban Planning Institute. Over the years the necessity to expand the teaching and research work to rural areas, municipalities, and regions became evident. To this end, in 1978 the Chair was renamed into a more recognisable Chair of Spatial Planning (hereinafter: KPP) which is as an educational and research unit still active today. After the untimely and sudden death of Prof. Sedlar, the Chair was taken over by Pogačnik, who headed it for the next 37 years, until his retirement in 2012.
Staff and educational activities as part of undergraduate study programmes
Chair’s staff numbers increased over the years. Assist. Dimitrovska Andrews, later Director of Urbanistični inštitut, Assist. Čuček Kumelj, later employed at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial planning, Assist. Čerpes, later Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana, Zavodnik Lamovšek, later Assistant Professor and Head of KPP, Assist. Žaucer, and Assist. Gašper Mrak were all employed in the central, urban planning field. The second teaching position in the field of rural planning was filled by the now retired Assist. Prof. Prosen with Assist. Foški, the current head of KPP. Thus the number of staff at KPP in the years up to the Bologna Reform consolidated, with the inclusion of young researchers and other professionals.
In line with its doctrine of interdisciplinary education, KPP included lectures from a broad spectrum of areas. Prof. Černe (regional planning), Prof. Marušič (landscape planning), Prof. Pličanič (law), Prof. Kovač (economy), Prof. Plut (ecology), and others, were also involved. From UL FAGG chairs and the later independent Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering (UL FGG), municipal topics were covered by Prof. Rakar and Assoc. Prof. Šubic Kovač, transport planning by Assist. Prof. Lipar, and others. Prof. Naprudnik, Prof. Jeršič, and others regularly held thematic lectures.
On the occasion of KPP’s anniversary it is worth mentioning that this is now the third generation of teachers and educators. The first generation (unfortunately now late) professors were Sedlar, T. Klemenčič, Vrišer, Čuček, Zemljič. The second generation, now largely retired, consisted of Pogačnik, Prosen, and Naprudnik, and the third one of Zavodnik Lamovšek, Foški, and Mrak. The Chair’s teachers were involved in the education process at other universities or faculties: the study programme in landscape architecture at the Biotechnical Faculty, at the Faculty of Architecture, geography at the Faculty of Arts, at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Maribor, and, elsewhere in Yugoslavia, particularly in post-graduate study programmes in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo.
As mentioned, in the first decade of its existence, KPP’s teaching activities were mostly underway in the Surveying Municipal Department and later under the Spatial Orientation at UL FGG’s Department of Geodesy. This somehow narrowed down its influence, scope, and mission. Its graduates – surveyors were particularly trained for interdisciplinary management of drawing up spatial plans, urban management, rural renovation, work in real-estate companies, and for geoinformation services. Thus they filled the gap between the professional areas that were otherwise occupied by architects, geographers, and landscape architects.
Many textbooks, lecture notes, and monographs in urbanism, regional planning, restructuring of rural areas, and urban ecology were provided, with which the authors were trailblazers in many fields, as previously there was no Slovenian professional literature available. As authors of various chapters they contributed to various proceedings, monographs, and other professional publications published elsewhere. Their contribution was evident in urban planning dictionaries. Scientific, professional, and popular articles written by KPP staff were regularly published in journals Sinteza, Arhitektov bilten, Urbani izziv, Geodetski vestnik, in Yugoslavian scientific and professional journals, in prominent foreign journals Computer-aided Design, Urban Ecology, Town and Country Planning, Geografický časopis, and in monographs published by renowned publishing houses, i.e. Ashgate Pergamon and Springer.
In time, and in particular after Slovenia’s independence, the study programme in spatial planning, headed by KPP, grew apart from other related, but competitive, programmes. First, this happened as an orientation in years 3 and 4 of the study programme in Geodesy, later as an independent study programme at the second-cycle Bologna level for the title of Master of Science in Spatial Planning, which could be continued up to the doctoral degree. The Bologna Reform eased the enrolment from other faculties, particularly after the completion of the first cycle. Admittedly, the programmes of other faculties were becoming increasingly competitive. Let us mention the completely separate study programme in Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana and related fields of study at the Department of Geography of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana and the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, the orientation in urbanism at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Maribor and the Real-Estate Management at the University of Nova Gorica.
Graduation works at KPP mostly covered topics in analytical urbanism, spatial planning, rural planning, ecology, urban economics, property management, and similar. They also covered topics in spatial sociology, particularly in the form of surveys and other forms of collaboration with local residents, and, in recent years, topics of sustainable spatial development. The students often picked subject themes relevant to their hometowns, at the initiative of municipalities or local design studios. Thereby they were beneficial to solving professional problems, particularly in remote smaller towns that otherwise did not receive any special attention. Many student workshops and seminars applied theoretical elements of the courses on practical case studies, e.g. Muta, Kranjska Gora, Šentrupert, etc.
Interdisciplinary Post-graduate Study of Spatial and Urban Planning.
Interdisciplinary Post-graduate Study of Spatial and Urban Planning were established at FAGG of the University of Ljubljana in 1973. In this text it will be named IPŠPUP, as this acronym was well known in the professional and wider academic circles. The initiative originated from the highest circles of the then profession and the rectorate of the University of Ljubljana and was among the first interdisciplinary Master degree courses. Scientifically and professionally it should educate top level urban planners and spatial planners to work in public administration, institutes, the University, the Urban Planning Institute, and elsewhere. Prof. Saša Sedlar, Prof. Vrišer, Vladimir Braco Mušič, MSc, Andrej Pogačnik, MSc, and others were among the designers and organisers of the study programme. The practical implementation was handed over to FAGG, i.e. the chair covering the field of spatial planning (KPP).
As urbanism was “fashionable” at the time, many architects, geographers, landscape architects and other university graduates enrolled in the programme, even if they did not pursue their careers in spatial planning. There were always some sociologists, surveyors, civil and municipal engineers among the students, while graduates from other backgrounds enrolled rarely. There were many students from the neighbouring Croatia and, due to the policy of the Non-Aligned Movement, many students came from Arab and African countries. Everyone who was anyone in the profession and held a teaching title was included: along with the founders of the study programme there were also Prof. Gaberščik, Prof. Tepina, Prof. Vrišer, Prof. Kokole, Prof. Saje, Prof. Frankovič, Prof. Mlinar, Prof. D. Vogelnik, Prof. Ogrin, Prof. Čuček, Prof. Zemljič, Prof. V. Klemenčič, and Prof. T. Klemenčič. Thematic lectures were held by Prof. Naprudnik, Prof. Gosar, Prof. Šturm, Prof. Brezar, Prof. Jeršič, and others. In IPŠPUP’s first decade, renowned professors from Belgrade and Zagreb, such as Prof. Bjelikov, Prof. Perović, Prof. Radović, Prof. Marinović Uzelac, came to hold lectures. At first, some more academically oriented architects from the Chair of Urbanism, particularly Prof. Ravnikar, distanced themselves from IPŠPUP.
In the 1980s and 1990s this older generation was successfully replaced by the next, middle, generation: Prof. Lavrač, Prof. Černe, Prof. Kos, Prof. Marušič, Prof. Rakar, Assist. Prof. Gantar, Prof. Pogačnik, Assist. Prof. Prosen, Prof. Pirnat, Assist. Prof. Pličanič, Prof. Malačič, and others.
IPŠPUP always collaborated with many guest lecturers with various backgrounds, who boosted the programme’s content and recognisability. The “second generation” lecturers included Mag. Bassin for spatial development of industries, Prof. Dimitrovska Andrews for urban design, Mag. Dekleva for land policy instruments, Sašek Divjak for sustainable development, Prof. Leskovec for sports and recreation land uses, Dr. Ravbar for regional development.
All the disciplines essential for spatial development were equally included in the programme: urbanism, geography, economics, law, sociology, landscape planning with environmental protection. This meant that the study programme was indeed very extensive and demanding. Three, completely separate, seminars served to practically apply knowledge using case studies of cities, municipalities, neighbourhoods, and natural areas. As ex cathedra lectures were otherwise frequent, these seminars were the most successful IPŠPUP’s study format.
The study programme lasted two years, with enrolment every two years. The first generations were extremely numerous – between 70 and 90 students; nevertheless, the dropout rate was also large. Each year only a few students completed their MSc degrees. The study was, practically, free of charge, as all students had scholarships to pay the tuition. Later, in the late 1980s and 1990s, student enrolment dropped to a few dozen, and after Slovenia’s independence to about one tenth or less. There were many reasons for this. The first one was the abolishment of scholarships so that students themselves, or their companies, had to pay the tuition. The second was competitive post-graduate studies at the Faculty of Architecture, the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Biotechnical Faculty, the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, and later at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Maribor. These study programmes were easier and more tailored to the needs of architects, landscape architects, geographers and other core professions, i.e. the students’ basic education. However, in my opinion the most important reason was IPŠPUP’s too extensive scope and a too-high level of study. Seminars and Masters theses were also required, which asked for an interdisciplinary approach, a scientific level, solving of spatial problems, extensive review of the literature, etc.
IPŠPUP gained international recognition and comparability through funding from the Ford Foundation, U. S., in the 1960s. Before that, the Foundation funded the Yugoslav-American urban planning project carried out by the Urban Planning Institute of Slovenia, which was however not included into the formal education system. So for a few years – in the then Socialist Republic of Slovenia – IPŠPUP was substantially funded by the capitalist America. The dollars were used to engage top lecturers of the time from Western Europe and the United States, such as De Lauwe, Thyrwitt, Alpass, Teicholz, Kunzmann, Maurer, Salomonsson, and many others. Our lecturers visited university centers for urbanism abroad, and thus built their knowledge and bought many foreign books and journals. Back then, as now, the small Slovenian professional community barely managed to benefit from all the knowledge and opportunities offered by the Ford Foundation.
The study programme also had some shortcomings: a too-extensive curriculum, as mentioned before, fragmentation of courses, and a too large dropout rate. Here Slovenia lost the opportunity to get the necessary generations of experts with a MSc or PhD in spatial planning. Interdisciplinarity frequently side-lined into simplified course work on various fields, without a proper synthesis and coordination under spatial frameworks. The faculties with long-standing tradition and a preoccupation with their own self-importance gradually reduced their interest in IPŠPUP, while there was also no exchange of knowledge or staff in the other direction. Urban and spatial planning in other faculties was delivered by the there employed economists, sociologists, journalists, conservationists, but that’s another story.
The introduction of the Bologna Reform in 2008 finally shut down IPŠPUP, as it abolished the scientific Master of Science Degree after the university diploma and introduced the second-cycle professional Masters degree in various faculties. The fundamental idea that IPŠPUP followed was gone, i.e. to allow professionals – university graduates – to upgrade their knowledge with the fundamentals of other professions, to successfully work in the complex field of spatial planning. In the last years of IPŠPUP, when the Bologna Reform was already in place, there were several campaigns for IPŠPUP candidates to complete their studies and transfer to doctoral studies and thus obtain an even higher title. The last students completed their studies in September 2016.
In over 40 years of its existence, IPŠPUP completed its mission. It strongly expanded the professional community concerned with urbanism and spatial planning, and introduced these two professions at the university and in Slovenian society in general. The programme produced many future ministers, university professors, scientists, directors, and some of our most important spatial planners. It was appreciated in the former Yugoslavia and known in neighbouring countries as well. Its largest merit was its interdisciplinarity, as comparable study programmes at home and abroad were more included into the geographic, economic, environmental protection, and academic environment. Even the students who did no complete IPŠPUP later told us that they obtained the know-how that was later highly beneficial to their core profession.
Teaching cannot be successful without one’s own research. KPP’s scientific research followed its fundamental educational goals and missions. It avoided distinctly design-oriented urban planning and the domain of landscape architecture. Its biggest successes were related to analytical urbanism, particularly in smaller towns, in regionalisation, i.e. regional planning, sustainable spatial development of cities and villages, restoration of rural areas, and various applications of geoinformation sciences related to space. KPP delivered tangible results in researching polycentrism, the role of smaller towns, and their identity and vitality as the basis of urbanisation in EU and beyond.
The Chair’s research successfully covered new, interdisciplinary fields emerging in-between urbanism, landscape architecture, economy, sociology, law, ecology, and spatial informatics. Following the accession to the EU, its younger staff successfully took part in international projects, either as partners or leading operators. So they forged their way to the international scene, published scientific results abroad, presented at international conferences, and similar. Scientific collaboration was particularly developed with the study programme in spatial planning at the Vienna University of Technology and the Institute of Geography of the University in Vienna and the programme in rural planning at the University of Zagreb. Its collaboration with TU München and the German Federal Ministry for Urban Development and the Environment is also known and recognised. In some of its scientific work, the Chair involved young researchers or already established experts.
Scientific results in spatial sciences must originate from practical experience, i.e. from working on professional assignments. The Chair’s colleagues took on work on many urban plans in smaller towns, as the tasks in larger towns were undertaken by the local urban design offices. Thus urban designs were produced – detailing land use and infrastructure with all the prescribed rules and professional background documents – for Hrastnik, Logatec, Litija, Sežana, Ilirska Bistrica, Ig, Idrija, Ajdovščina, etc. Furthermore, we elaborated various studies for Lendava, Bloke, Šentanel, Jesenice, Straža pri Novem mestu, and also Ljubljana ‒ where we were members of the Strategic Council for the Master Plan. KPP students carried out many domestic and international workshops which showed the possibilities of local development: Muta, Šentrupert, Novo mesto, Kranjska Gora, Slovenian Istria, Ljubljana, and elsewhere.
Spatial planning concerning municipalities and regions was perhaps even more evident. We drew up the spatial elements in social plans, later spatial plans, and finally municipal spatial plans for many Slovenian municipalities, e.g. Hrastnik, Sežana, Slovenska Bistrica, Ig. In the independent Slovenia we took part in the drawing-up of regional spatial development designs, which were unfortunately never confirmed as spatial planning documents due to the changed legislation in 2007. KPP’s work in urban and regional spatial tasks was characterised by carefully prepared analytical groundwork, commitment to protection of nature, agricultural land and the environment, along with a proactive transformation of space. Regardless of clients’ expectations, we always tried to create new spatial visions.
Many collaborations of KPP and the ministry responsible for spatial development involved both practical and research work, addressing regionalisation, sector-specific legislation, various analytical assignments. We were involved in various phases of designing the spatial development strategy of Slovenia and its potential regions.
Throughout, the chair was actively involved in professional associations. Let us mention its involvement in the Chamber of Architecture and Spatial Planning of Slovenia (ZAPS), the Association of Architects of Ljubljana (DAL), the Town and Spatial Planning Association of Slovenia (DUPPS), in associations of evaluators and moderators, as court experts, etc. We were members of the Environmental Protection Council of the National Assembly and the Regional Development Council. KPP has been active in the International Association for Urban and Regional Research and Education (AIFPAUR) accredited by UNESCO. In the years prior to the establishment of AESOP, Prof. Pogačnik acted as its vice-president. Thanks to KPP, UL FGG became one of the founding members of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). Its members are editors, members of editorial boards, or reviewers of important journals, they take part at Sedlar Meetings and activities associated with the Fabiani awards, professional exhibitions, public lectures, and similar.
Regardless of the faculty or university in Slovenia that it belongs to, the Chair follows the developed world in the fields of spatial planning, purban planning, rural planning, spatial ecology, and related fields. Along with the protective orientation and doctrine in spatial development prevailing in Slovenia, the Chair keeps looking for its own path to create balance between development and protection planning, i.e. between the needs of people and natural conservation. The Chair successfully presents Slovenia in EU and beyond in the said teaching and scientific field. In the Slovenian context, it gave the know-how to leading urban designers, spatial planners, professionals in property management, and similar profiles, new generations of university teachers, and researchers. Until Slovenia’s independence, its programme was almost the only one to offer education in the fields mentioned, but now the competition has been increasing.
KPP is thus focused on educating senior staff in departments for the environment and spatial planning, in large urban design studios, research institutions, and ministries. Its key educational and research advantages lie in its interdisciplinarity and thus creation in new fields of sustainable development. New forms of sustainable and concurrent land use, recycling, new transport, energy, and environmental protection technologies in the developed world are rapidly changing the image of cities and landscapes. KPP is keeping up-to-date, applying, and developing the aforementioned new challenges in Slovenia, thus being part of the most advanced and responsible part of the world in the fields of urbanism and spatial planning.
We can see that scientific, educational, and practical work of KPP staff did not go unnoticed throughout its operation. They received many resounding awards, such as the award of the Association of Urbanists of Yugoslavia, the Fabiani Award, the Platinum Pencil Award of the Chamber of Architecture and Spatial Planning of Slovenia (ZAPS), the Golden Award of the University of Architecture. Inside the faculty, the efforts of its members were crowned with vice-dean titles. As applies to urbanism and spatial planning in general, our work was rather overlooked by politicians and the media. Or, when this was not the case, this scene had a preference to listen to and promote media stars, known speakers, and self-proclaimed know-it-alls – there is no lack of the latter in our field.
IPŠPUP also played an important role in spatial planning and development in Slovenia. It is unreasonable that some administrative – may it be “European” – decision abolished a study programme, which had proven to be successful and necessary in Slovenia. Or that our academic environment blindly follows EU directives, without finding a format or a formal framework for future existence or development of such a study programme as was, in fact, IPŠPUP.
Even though it was away from politics and media attention – which applies to Slovenian urbanism – KPP gave our society and the academic environment its due and relevant contribution. Taking into account the compactness of Slovenia and the number of its university teachers, it delivered, and continues to deliver, all the key activities in the fields of spatial planning. And that at the level of the most developed and much larger countries. Along with its missions in the international environment it also responded to the specific requirements, challenges, and threats of this beautiful land and its people.
Sen. Lect. Dr. Mojca Foški, Head of KPP Chair, on a view towards the future and presentation of the monograph Prostorski načrtovalci 21. stoletja (Spatial Planners of the 21st Century):
Sen. Lect. Dr. Mojca Foški: CHAIR OF SPATIAL PLANNING TODAY AND A VIEW TOWARDS THE FUTURE
Establishment and functioning of the Chair of Spatial Planning in the new millennium
The establishment and development of the Chair of Spatial Planning (KPP) and the Interdisciplinary Post‑graduate Study of Spatial and Urban Planning (IPŠPUP), from their early days to their transition to the Bologna system, was described by Prof. Pogačnik in the introduction to this monograph (Achievements and Challenges over the Years). Prof. Pogačnik and Assist. Prof. Prosen were, until their retirement in 2012 and 2010, respectively, the drivers of educational, scientific, and professional development of KPP. We, their successors, feel obliged to continue the development of the Chair in all fields of its operation. We hold a special responsibility in the educational domain by taking care of the study programme Spatial Planning, which succeeded its much more recognisable older brother – IPŠPUP.
Many societal changes, and particularly the economic crisis during 2008‒2014, contributed, after both professors retired, to the lack of new employments at KPP. Nowadays, the staff consists of only three educators (doc. dr. Alma Zavodnik Lamovšek, viš. pred. dr. Mojca Foški, and asist. dr. Gašper Mrak). Nevertheless, we continue to transfer knowledge in spatial planning to younger generations. We teach courses in spatial, regional, urban, and rural planning in almost all UL FGG’s study programmes, along with the second-cycle study programme Geography (UL FF) and the first-cycle study programme Urbanism (UL FA). In the past, Dr. Maja Simoneti helped with our educational and research activities, while Mag. Nataša Pichler Milanović was involved in international research activities and Miha Konjar was a young researcher. Ms Konstanca Soss has been helping us as a technical assistant all along. In recent years, the shortage of staff is addressed by involving teachers from other members of the University of Ljubljana, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. Renowned professionals are invited to take part, who, with their thematic lectures, show their experience in current spatial planning practice.
Despite staff problems, we continuously introduce new tools and methods into our teaching process, which was also the subject of several publications in journals concerned with the topic of teaching methods in higher education (e.g. Sodobna pedagogika) published by us or in collaboration with guest teachers. The emphasis is on interdisciplinarity and project-based learning, which requires from educators and students more input in terms of content, organisation, and time; nevertheless, the learning outcomes are better than if using conventional teaching methods and students’ satisfaction is greater. The most efficient format of project-based learning is student workshops, which have been held each year since 1998. Since 2012 these workshops are international which particularly contributes to connections between students and teachers of similar orientations from different study programmes and different countries, allows for exchange of knowledge and practical experience, and improves the teaching process. Most results of these student workshops were published in professional monographs (available at https://www.researchgate.net/; in the COBISS system).
During studies, the students are encouraged to take part in various domestic and international research and project tasks, competitions, and summer schools. Our focus is particularly on involvement in projects Along the Creative Path to Practical Knowledge, co-financed by the ministry responsible for education, where teachers from KPP take part as mentors.
A big step toward independent work for any student is the production of the final paper; KPP is proud of its many supervisions and the diversity of final works at various study levels (from professional to doctoral) and in various study programmes. We also boast two Prešeren Awards (Rozman – 2014 University Prešeren Award and Dolinšek – 2016 Faculty Prešeren Award) under the supervision of doc. Zavodnik Lamovšek.
Regardless of the extensive teaching work and the economic crisis that strongly affected our field as well, our professional work and scientific research have not been neglected. In the professional domain we mostly collaborate in drawing up professional background documents for the needs of spatial planning at the local level, in production of various expert opinions and reviews, and in the tasks put up for tender by the ministry responsible for space. Here we maintain, to the extent possible, collaboration with municipalities and the companies concerned with spatial planning, as this brings us together with the current challenges of spatial planning practice, at the same time preventing us to remain solely inside isolated academic circles.
Over the last few years, the prevailing research topics have been urban and regional development, development of methodological tools, and definition of spatial development concepts and models, which we particularly address under Target Research Programmes (CRPs) funded by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS). Depending on the interests of individual ministries and their sectors we prepare professional works in the wider field of professional planning. Since the late 1990s we have been strongly involved in international research. In the period before Slovenia’s accession to EU, we were among the first ones in Slovenia to take part in the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion (ESPON, www.espon.eu) and in Interreg programme projects, transnational territorial cooperation projects, Urbact, Leonardo da Vinci, and the 7th Framework Programme. Here too the topics focused on the development of settlement, cities, and urban regions or implementation of the proposed spatial development. Our involvement in international projects almost ceased over the last few years as during 2014–2017 Zavodnik Lamovšek was strongly involved in UL FGG managerial tasks as the Vice-Dean for Student Affairs.
We maintain contacts with the professional and international community through active membership in domestic and international associations, either as individuals (the Town and Spatial Planning Association of Slovenia, the Association of Surveyors of Slovenia, the Association of Architects of Ljubljana) or institutionally (the Association of European Schools of Planning – AESOP). In 2019, UL FGG will host (together with UL BF) the 14th AESOP Heads of Schools Meeting. All of the time we have been an active part of civil initiative in the field of spatial planning (e.g. Odgovorno do prostora! – Acting Responsible to Space!).
Bologna reform and the introduction of the Master degree study programme Spatial Planning
The higher education reform in EU, resulting from the Bologna Declaration, which was signed in June 1999 by representatives of 29 countries (among them Slovenia), introduced novelties that strongly affected the study programmes of spatial and urban planning in Slovenia, particularly that at UL FGG. Until the so-called Bologna Reform, at UL FGG spatial planning at the under-graduate level was included, as a special orientation, in years 3 and 4 of the university study programme in Geodesy. However, IPŠPUP played a key role in educating spatial planners, as it brought graduate students to obtain the Master of Science degree and some even the doctoral degree (see annexes of this book).
The Bologna Reform abolished all former postgraduate Masters degree studies (the last MSc students enrolled in IPŠPUP completed their degrees by 30 September 2016), so the study programme in spatial and urban planning transformed into the second-cycle (Masters) study programme in Spatial Planning (PN). At first, the formation of an independent second-cycle study programme Spatial Planning at UL FGG was not favoured, but the commitment of Prof. Pogačnik and doc. Prosen who was at the time head of the Department of Geodesy, played an important role in its establishment. The study programme Spatial Planning received its first accreditation in 2008 and was offered for the first time in the study year 2011/2012, with admissions planned every other year.
The concept of the study programme’s indisciplinarity, as introduced by IPŠPUP, was to a great degree transferred to the new second-cycle study programme in Spatial Planning. Courses in law, economics, spatial sociology, landscape management, and environmental protection were preserved. An important role was given to the courses in municipal economics and housing, property management and the courses concerned with acquisition, processing, positioning, and understanding of spatial data. The format of the seminar, i.e. project work, was preserved, where students learn about the fundamentals of spatial and urban planning in connection with other fields. It was, however, impossible to incorporate and transfer all IPŠPUP content into two years of full-time courses, particularly in terms of its complexity, as the programme was, in fact, transferred from the scientific to the professional study level.
As the study programme was formed within the Department of Geodesy and we wanted to preserve the connections between geodesy and spatial planning, the new study programme preserved the subject matter of remote sensing, cadastres, cartography, etc. To date, the introduction of the new study programme has proven that we managed to preserve the concept of a study programme allowing the students to acquire a wide interdisciplinary education in spatial planning. The advantage for our graduates lies precisely in the interdisciplinary format of the study programme, who are in this way included in various work environments in spatial planning as well as work environments that require professionals acting as facilitators between various professions in solving spatial planning challenges. Until now just over a half of the students from the first three generations completed the programme.
In the academic year 2018/2019 the fourth generation of students enrolled in the study programme in Spatial Planning. This study programme will appeal to those students who had completed various first-cycle study programmes in geography, surveying, technical property management, landscape architecture, civil engineering, forestry, etc. Transferring between study programmes after the completion of first-cycle study programmes is one of the ideas of the Bologna Reform, while the idea of students’ diversity was strongly encouraged already by IPŠPUP. The students who enrolled wanted to upgrade their knowledge in spatial planning, either for their professional work or research. Its MSc graduates were always sought after and today they fill senior managerial positions or positions requiring high professional competence in many institutions concerned with spatial planning.
Problems, dilemmas, and a view towards the future
Of course there were some teething problems in the early stages of the new study programme, so in 2014 we carried out a self-evaluation and suggested changes in the study programme, with the goal of filling in the gaps that had been identified as the biggest shortcomings. Given the needs of employers we also added compulsory practical training. The reaccreditation of the study programme was confirmed in 2015. In the same year, all UL FGG’s study programmes were awarded the ASIIN international accreditation, valid until 2021. Next year we hope to obtain the AESOP certificate of quality of the education programme.
Despite the long tradition of KPP and the wide recognisability of IPŠPUP we face, after the introduction of the Bologna Reform and the onset of the economic crisis, problems concerning the recognisability of the Chair and the study programme. First-cycle study programmes do not include many topics concerned with spatial planning, while the profession of a spatial planner has not been widely recognised across society. Unfortunately even some professional circles and state institutions fail to recognise it to an adequate degree, as also evident in the Architecture and Civil Engineering Act of 2017. Even though education in spatial planning has been offered at UL FGG since IPŠPUP onwards, the legislator does not recognise MSc graduates in Spatial Planning as the possible holders of the authorised spatial planner licence. Similar to geographers and landscape architects, graduates are placed in the position of associate rather than (one of the) leading professions in the spatial and urban planning process. Defenders of such a relationship between professions feel that this is the only way to restore the desired order in Slovenian space, but they probably overlooked the fact that these problems are not due to the presence of various professions but rather due to the lack of their activities and mutual cooperation.
Finally, let us underline that our goal remains high-quality teaching, professional, and research work. As part of our teaching activities we will continue to educate spatial planners with a wide interdisciplinary breadth of knowledge. We will continue to pursue this direction in developing the study programme, which is fully comparable with related programmes abroad, and we will not adapt to (too) rapid legislative changes in Slovenia. We feel that the latter could even be harmful as this path could lead to uniformity and the loss of individuality. We support the diversity of the existing accredited study programmes in spatial design, planning, development, and management in Slovenia. We will thus continue to build and upgrade the Spatial Planning programme by taking small, but deliberate steps, thus preserving a common thread and a solid framework. Rather than thinking about switching to a five-year study programme, we would upgrade it with a specialist study programme, should there be needs and opportunities to do so in the future. After introducing the Bologna Reform, the gap between the second-cycle degree programmes and doctoral study programmes became too wide. A gap has emerged which does not allow for further education for those who want to continue their professional (lifelong) learning, without pursuing research or an academic career.
One of the main priorities of the Chair is to expand the current staff and bring in young people, as this is the only way to transfer knowledge to younger generations and open doors to a new generation of educators in spatial planning. An expansion of the current staff would allow us to make more time for research and professional work and contribute to further development of staff, the chair, and the spatial planning profession in general. We want to deepen our research particularly in urban and regional (spatial) development as well as strengthen our practical cooperation and ties with local communities. As has been the case until now, we will continue to pursue connectivity and interdisciplinarity and preserve and establish new contacts. Here we expect an encouraging environment both at UL FGG and beyond.
In the second part, the round table began with five introductory presentations, where speakers shared their views of the role of spatial planning and spatial planners in the 21st century. The presentations were diverse and highlighted the challenges that were addressed in the ensuing discussion.
Contributions ‒ Part 2:
- Barbara Radovan, General Director of the Spatial Planning, Construction and Housing Directorate, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning.
- mag. Miran Gajšek, Head of Spatial Management Department, City of Ljubljana.
- prof. dr. Davorin Gazvoda, Department of Landscape Architecture at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana.
- Liljana Jankovič Grobelšek, President of the Town and Spatial Planning Association of Slovenia.
- Aleš Mlakar, spatial planner.