Call for Papers
14th Meeting of the AESOP Thematic Group on Planning and Complexity
Taking Stock of Complexity Sciences:
Evidence of Progress in Urban Planning?

Hosted by: University of Bamberg - Department of Political Science
Chair for the Governance of Innovative and Complex Technological Systems

The complexity sciences continue to influence debates, research, and practices in urban planning and governance. Urban systems, e.g. cities and urban regions, can be understood as complex systems, behaving non-linearly and co-evolving with other systems. By now, the number of studies in the realm of the planning and governance of the urban that use concepts and ideas from the complexity sciences has gone up significantly. Naturally, complexity’s increasing popularity also attracts criticism. An often voiced criticism, for instance, is that the applications of complexity in urban planning and governance are little more than semantic novelty.
The right response to such criticism is to examine it and to demonstrate that complexity does have utility in the urban planning for the 21st century. Does complexity science live up to its promises? Now that we have been using complexity in planning for quite a while, we ought to be able to answer that question. For this workshop, we invite papers that take stock of the complexity sciences.

In particular, papers are invited that focus on the following topics:

  • Research methods: what methods are applied in urban planning and governance research and practice? Why are these methods specific to studying complexity? We invite papers that showcase complexity-informed methods and applications.
  • Complexity-friendly governance arrangements: it is easy to claim that certain cooperation in e.g. a project constitutes an innovative governance arrangement. But is that the case? How persistent is that arrangement? And how innovative is the arrangement anyway, given the many institutional
  • experiments carried out over the past decades? What have the complexity sciences really brought new to the field of planning and governance, if anything?
  • Translating complexity to practice: another popular claim is that the complexity sciences, rather than being an intellectual turn, help practitioners to improve their work. How does that work? Does it really produce better results? What is ‘better’? And compared to what does complexity science produce better results in urban planning and governance?
  • Information technology and planning: information technology has the promise to delve deeper into the complexities of planning by e.g. enabling popular participation or by visualizing possible consequences of decisions. To what extent are these methods informed by complexity sciences? And do they deliver?

Date and location:

The workshop is hosted by the Chair for the Governance of Innovative and Complex Technological Systems, at the University of Bamberg, Germany. The workshop will take place on February 11th-12th, 2016 in Bamberg, Bavaria. The workshop will be free of charge.


We have a contingent of rooms with a special price from the 10-12th of February 2016 at the following hotels:

"Barockhotel" am Dom, room rate for a single room 72,-- € per night, breakfast included (keyword for booking: Complexsys), more information about the hotel here...

"Welcome Kongresshotel Bamberg"
Room rate for a single room 93,-- € per night (breakfast included) and for a double bedroom 113,-- € per night (breakfast included) (keyword for booking: 14th Meeting of the AESOP Thematic Group on Planning and Complexity).
More information about the hotel here.

Paper abstracts:

Participants are invited to submit abstracts for their papers. Abstracts should be 500–800 words and should cover one or more of the themes defined above.

  • Deadline for submitting abstracts: October 1st, 2015.
  • Notification acceptance of abstracts: November 1st, 2015.
  • Deadline submitting full papers: January 15th, 2016.
  • Papers submitted to the workshop need to adhere to the guidelines of CGN. The guidelines can be found on the website of the journal:
  • Abstract submissions can be emailed to

Other important information

  • The five best papers presented at the workshop are selected for publication in a special issue of Complexity, Governance & Networks (CGN). See for information about the journal.
  • For correspondence, email to For more information, see the website of the AESOP Planning and Complexity group here.

Organizational committee:

Lasse Gerrits, University of Bamberg, Germany
Stefan Verweij, University of Bamberg, Germany
Ward Rauws, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Mirijam Böhme, University of Bamberg, Germany
Silke Raffel, University of Bamberg, Germany
Julian Stieg, University of Bamberg, Germany
Emanuel Wenzel, University of Bamberg, Germany