Planning to achieve/Planning to Avoid: The 26th AESOP Congress, Ankara, Turkey, 11-15 July 2012

Article excerpt

The 26th annual Congress of the Association of European Planning Schools (AESOP), with its umbrella motto - 'Planning to achieve/Planning to avoid' - took place from 11 to 15 July in the Turkish capital city, Ankara. The event was hosted by the Middle East Technical University (METU). Given METU's pioneering role in contributing to higher education across Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, its commitment to natural and social sciences and its innovative approaches to teaching and learning, this proved an exciting venue for celebrating the Association's Silver Jubilee. Delegates were welcomed by the Vice Principal and Mayor - both planning alumni of METU and both emphasising the living geography afforded by the campus and the intellectual and professional contributions of METU planning graduates. Indeed, current students were much appreciated by congress delegates - not least because of their bright yellow T-shirts saying, simply, 'Ask Me'.

Established in 1956, METU's extensive campus now provides a vital green area for the city of Ankara. A significant 'greening-the-campus', initiated in 1958, has effectively transformed 4500 ha of barren land into a city forest, incorporating 500 ha of lakes and ponds, that makes the City less dry and less polluted and offers an important recreational facility for students and visitors alike. Professor Taner Oc, an METU alumnus, recalled with affection - and pride - the celebration and festivity involved in this (still continuing) student tree-planting tradition. A commitment to scientific enquiry and maintaining quality of life are more than symbolically rooted in a campus where public art commemorates notable thinkers and where cherry trees blossom. In an entertaining plenary address by Professor Baykan Günay on the spatial history of Ankara, we learned how, inspired by METU's contribution to greening the city, the region launched its own re-afforestation programme, echoing a Geddesian motif: 'by leaves we live'. It is not surprising that the very capable 2012 AESOP Local Organising Committee at METU initiated the new Greening Policy for AESOP activities, bringing waste avoidance and planned resource efficiency to the heart of future AESOP congresses.1

1 Further details of the Greening Policy of AESOP 2012 are available on the AESOP, Ankara website. Details and links to the 26th Annual Congress are available at: http://www.arber.com.tr/aesop2012.org/index.php/home

2 The Roundtables comprised: 'Planning as an act of faith: responses to the human paradox of action in the unknown' (Moderator: Heather Campbell); 'Writing workshop for young scholars and YA roundtable discussion on publishing' (Moderator: Antonio Raciti); ''Vulnerabilities, risks and mitigation planning' (Moderator: Murat Balamir); 'What makes plans/planning strategic?' (Moderators: Louis Albrechts, Allesandro Balducci).

3 PUNTER, John (2011), 'Urban design and the English urban renaissance 1999-2009: a review and preliminary evaluation', Journal of Urban Design, 16, 1-41.

4 The main AESOP website is available at: http://www.aesop-planning.eu/.

5 Details of the 2013 Joint Conference arrangements are available at: http://www.aesop-acspdublin2013.com/.

[Author Affiliation]

Deborah Peel is one of the two UK Council representatives for AESOP and is Professor of Planning Research and Scholarship in the School of the Built Environment, University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB; email: d.peel@ulster.ac.uk

The structure of the 2012 Congress

As with previous years, the 2012 Congress comprised plenary sessions with keynote speakers to open and close the four-day event. Parallel sessions were dedicated to a familiar portfolio of thematic tracks (see Table 1), some reflecting interesting combinations of theme, and some proving popular enough to operate as twin-tracks. Roundtables and special sessions added spice to the mix.2 With a diverse offering of mobile workshops on the afternoon of Wednesday 12 July and a Congress Dinner the following evening, the programme was packed with opportunities to exchange ideas, network and learn. …