The appropriateness, usefulness and impact of the current urban planning curriculum in South African Higher Education

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences

Abstract

International institutions such as the United Nations have highlighted the significance of planning as a discipline in promoting more sustainable environments and dealing with the core economic, social and environmental challenges faced by Africa. Delivering successful urban planning training in SA Higher Education will thus make a key contribution to addressing SA national Government priorities around equity, social justice and democracy.

For many years post-colonial and post-apartheid SA has modelled its urban planning practices on Western systems which has been reflected in HE curricula. Concerns have been raised about the relevance and applicability of these Western theories and methods when planning African cities (Watson, 2003, 2009). To date, there has been little or no sustained work that brings together post-colonial and Southern debate theories with an examination of transferring northern planning theories to South Africa. Major uncertainties remain about HE and the appropriateness, usefulness and impact of planning curricula in the last 10 years and their associated teaching methods. The proposed research also aims to reflect more widely on the implications of the SA study for UK planning education; this is especially important given the recent increase in students from the Global South registering for planning-related courses in the UK.

O1: To investigate the social and economic value of planning education in SA particularly questions of equity and diversity in HE destination choices, graduation rates and employability outcomes.
O2: To deconstruct how the development and delivery of the urban planning undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum addresses issues raised by a changing post-colonial context in SA.
O3: Drawing on O2, to assess to what extent issues raised by a changing colonial context is considered and addressed in the UK undergraduate and postgraduate planning curriculum. By doing so and reflecting on lessons from O1, the research will explore the implications for urban planning lecturers in the UK when working with students from Africa and the wider Global South.
O4: To create a platform for ideas-sharing between SA academics, professionals and students across the world in order to connect and inform curriculum shaping, teaching methods and wider HE strategies for planning education (especially via SACPLAN)
O5: To develop a set of evidence-based resources for HE planning strategies that can address the Global South challenge in SA and across the wider continent.

The potential applications and benefits of the proposed research are diverse. There will be an immediate contribution to existing teaching programmes and to SACPLAN/RTPI strategies. There will also be a medium to long-term contribution through the way urban issues are dealt with in SA, what this means for planners when trained and re-trained (CPD) and for the content of planning curricula, teaching methods and thus planning policy. The main targets for dissemination of the project findings go beyond traditional academic audiences to planning practitioners, policy-makers and wider community groups. It will include the production of reports, briefing notes, good practice guides, evidence-based learning and teaching materials as well as academic papers and a book. The development of an online forum will maximise international dissemination of the project and provides long-term impact by creating a dynamic platform for debates among South African (and African) planners.

Planned Impact

As detailed in 'Pathways to Impact', a major programme of impacts, outputs and user-involvement activities is a core, scheduled element of the project. All materials listed below will be made available on the project and SACPLAN websites (available beyond the project's duration). Films will be posted on YouTube. Information will be distributed through relevant email-lists and social media. Key beneficiaries of the project include:

1. Planning courses accreditation bodies, specifically SACPLAN and RTPI
This project, developed in partnership with SACPLAN and the RTPI, will produce a range of open access online materials (briefing notes, curriculum review, good practice guides for teaching, recommendation reports including examples of best practices and 15 minute films). These online evidence-based resources will address specific sub-topics (e.g. diversity in housing in a post-colonial context; tackling urban poverty; tackling spatial segregation and spatial inequality). SACPLAN and RTPI will take part in seminars, workshops and end of projects events in SA and the UK. This will allow networking, mutual learning and partnership-building activities across a range of African countries.

2. National and International students engaged in urban planning education
Focus-groups and workshops with students and graduates (O1/O2/O4) are a key element of the project not only for data collection and networking, but also to foster their interest and engagement with addressing specific local issues relating to the urban planning curriculum in South Africa. The development of the online forum and the use of visual mapping should also create a dynamic platform for ideas sharing, learning and training across South Africa and beyond. This will be combined with the impact workshops and end of project events.

3. Policy-makers, community groups/NGOs, practitioners addressing African urban issues
Clear routes to national/regional impacts are in place via the South African team's partners (SACPLAN and related connections with planning organisations). Bespoke briefing notes/summary reports, films, impact workshops and end of project events will support policy-makers and practitioners as well as community groups/NGOs leading urban planning-related projects. Such activities are likely to produce meaningful impacts in terms of self-evaluation, changing organisational practices and longer-term enhancement of skills and capacities of personnel/organisations. The impact workshops and end of project events will allow for further discussion, networking and dissemination of knowledge across South Africa and the wider continent.

4. Policy-makers, community groups/NGOs, practitioners (especially teachers) interested in addressing post-colonial issues in teaching delivery
As per point 3 - the South African team's partnerships generate clear routes to national/regional impacts in this field. All project materials will support policymakers and practitioners leading urban planning-related projects by better contextualizing their understanding of post-colonial urban space. Public, private and third sector organisations will be targeted to produce meaningful impacts in terms of self-evaluation, changing organisational practices and longer-term enhancement of skills and capacities of personnel/organisations.

5. Wider international communities of stakeholders in urban planning issues
International impacts will be facilitated via engagement with the SA and UK project advisory groups (which will be composed of key academics and practitioners) and through the team networking activities. This will be supported by the various materials produced throughout the project and their wide dissemination.
 
Title You Tube Videos 
Description Production of a set of videos posted on the project's website and on youtube : 1/ Introduction to the Saper Project team, May 2017 2/ Introduction to the Saper Project Steering Group members, June 2017 A range of forthcoming videos (with teaching / learning focus) are currently being produced. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Those videos have been posted on You Tube in September 2017 and allow a presentation of the project to the wider public New videos will be posted in 2019. 
URL http://www.saperproject.com/resources.html
 
Description The SAPER research is focusing on South Africa, listed as Upper Middle Income Countries and Territories. South Africa has a unique set of challenges growing from its legacy of colonialism and apartheid, with continuing endemic poverty, extreme economic inequality and spatial division. Policymakers and planning practitioners are dedicated to overcoming this problematic legacy, but there are also pressures on local and national governments to attract investment and compete globally, which have implications for the planning and management of South African cities. The profession is thus tackling a complex set of problems, some familiar to practitioners in the global North, some relating to broader questions of development in the global South and cutting across both public and private sectors, and some very specific to the South African context. As such this project has been of key relevance in order to link urban development challenges to pressures inherent to economic development, need to address welfare and create more sustainable urban environments particularly for the poorest and more vulnerable communities.

The SAPER project has conducted the largest survey to date of practitioners' attitudes toward the state of the profession in South Africa, comprising 212 questionnaire responses and coupled with 89 in-depth qualitative interviews. This material was gathered February-May 2018. Both the interview and open-response questionnaire data were coded in NVivo using a combination of deductive (theoretically-led) and inductive (data-led) approaches. A total of 38 theoretically-led codes were used, with a further 44 codes emerging during the data analysis. A range of networking and impact-led activities have also been conducted in parallel with a range of bodies, including SACPLAN, CAP, RTPI, SALGA and representatives from key national ministries. We summarize here some of the most representative and relevant results. One of the most positive results we found in the survey was the perception that planning education is sufficiently preparing planners to work in South Africa. There were a number of issues raised, and caveats made with regard to this statement, but largely respondents felt that planning education was adequately preparing them to work in planning practice in South Africa. When asked about motivations behind studying planning, the two largest answers where interest in the subject and desire to change society. This has provided evidence for the widely held belief that many planners enter into the planning profession with the intent to improve the world in which they live and also testifies from a shift in the perception of the planning profession, post apartheid. The HE training is overall bringing a relevant mix of skills to planners however this is not sufficient in allowing them to do their job, post-graduation. Planners still have to work in a highly fragmented and segregated socio-spatial built environment (due to apartheid legacy) that still persists and is often reproduced. There are just over 4000 registered planners and urban planning has been identified as a scarce skill in South Africa since 2002. The planning profession encounters key challenges related especially to capacity, resources, and discrepancies between main urban centers and smaller and rural municipalities. The ability of planning professionals to effectively lead and co-produce change, is hence highly dependent on their professional and personal practice development and consequently, the conditions enabling such impact. Now, young planners are struggling to find employment without relevant experience (which is also an issue for accreditation). This is combined with difficulties in applying their education in vastly diverse and challenging local contexts, where municipalities are often under resourced, and in regions where senior planning capacity is limited to which can be added a lack of appropriate continued professional development support and practice-orientated mechanisms (including formal mentorship). There is hence a need for political will in changing the regulations and bringing more incentives to address those skill gaps including for example a Voluntary Community Service year. We are still discussing and refining those results in partnership with SACPLAN and CAP and are also looking at widening the issue of planning capacity and capacity building beyond graduation in South Africa and other African countries.


Some of the key themes this project has tackled include the role of power relations in planning, success and failure of planning reform post-apartheid, development control, challenges for young graduates and issues around professional continuous developments, alternatives and temporary forms of planning and severe resource discrepancies between major urban centres and the rest of the country. We highlight below some of the key questions and points we have addressed in those different themes.

In our investigation of power relations in planning in South Africa, we used the notion of Michel de Certeau's notion of lieu propre for making sense of how practicing planners respond to power dynamics within municipalities. Through this work, we demonstrated that the strategies of the powerful are themselves subject to negotiation. Planners are not simply passive recipients of legislation and policy, but rather, state strategies are produced through co-construction between powerful actors, whose interests often are at odds with each other.

In looking at the successes and failures of planning in South Africa, planners' optimism around the reform of planning legislation in South Africa have been noted. However, many frustrations have also been identified, ranging from concerns that plans are being written but not implemented, political interference in planning matters, job reservation, and concerns over capacity in municipalities to undertake planning work. This research has been critical of this stance, arguing that many of these concerns could also be interpreted as indicators of a planning system whose design requires a level of competence and capacity unlikely ever to exist. Given this, suggestions are being made that planning reform needs to focus on creating a leaner planning system. The bulk of this reform needs to focus on the land use management system, given that this is both one of the most powerful tools that planners have, as well as the least reformed part of the South African planning system.

In terms of development control, this project has also identified that planners struggle to conceive development control tools that go beyond zoning. It is argued that conventional zoning, as practiced in South Africa, is purely suited to respond to the complexity that defines South African settlements, especially concerning informality. In response to this, we have drawn upon Moroni et al.'s work on simple rules. This argument is premised on the notion that planning regulations should allow for a diversity of responses, enabling households to easily adapt to changing social, cultural and economic systems.

Looking at alternative forms of planning and temporary uses of urban spaces, we have noted the difficulty for planners to embrace with adaptability and join up two complex forms of making and shaping spaces, the formal and planned one and the more informal, temporary, diverse and fluctuant one responding to everyday needs and coping. We have highlighted the difficulty in tackling such temporal dynamics in planning education and then in practice, where planners often loose scope and understanding of what is happening in the field and specifically in the more informal communities.

Finally, reflecting on gaps and need in training, we question the ways in which can be addressed the difficulties for young planners to find a job coupled with resource scarcity faced by the smallest and more rural municipalities. This has allowed us to raise a range of questions related to places where planning and specific tasks of planning are delivered by non-planners or by planners who don't have full knowledge, capacities nor resources to tackle challenges they are tasked to address. We have argued here that indeed this issue is not specific to South Africa which despite severe planners shortage is still much better placed than most African countries.

Reflecting on the implications of these arguments, we suggest that there should be greater emphasis in planning education on how to negotiate and work within the structures of power, everyday temporalities and find ways to gain additional training once in the field. These findings also emphasise the need for planning educators to teach planning students to be creative, so as to enable planners to be able to think beyond tried and tested methods and approaches to planning, and identify and embrace alternative practices to planning and regulation that are better suited to the South African context. The heart of this is recognizing that planning is a profession with a balance of hard and soft skills, and that competence in both is required in order to be successful as a planner.
Exploitation Route Through a range of outputs and impact activities we are currently working in disseminating those results as to inform discussions, strategies and policies in both planning education and planning practice. Those activities are currently ongoing and our links with CAP, SACPLAN, RTPI, ACU and UN Habitat are supporting our actions.
The range of publications (papers and book chapters) that have been published this year and the ones which are currently under review and being written are helping us the maximise the results of the SAPER project. Follow up studies could be envisaged in other African countries and within the Commonwealth.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Transport,Other

URL http://www.saperproject.com/resources.html
 
Description This award didn't include a Gender Equality Statement but I would like to mention that the project involved 5 male colleagues and 8 women (including UK PI, UK Research Fellow, 2 South African doctoral researchers and 3 established South African academics). Career development towards early career female staff was a priority for us. The UK Research Fellow at the end of the contract was offered a post-doctoral position in Sweden (Malmö University), Mischka Jacobus was offered a tenured lectureship at UFS and Rouve Bingle is still actively involved in the UFS department, in both teaching and research, while she completes her PhD. All members, at different stages of their careers were offered opportunities to present at international conferences and have been leading and been involved in publications and in all impact activities. As per the data collected, gender balance along with ethnicity was a key criteria in sampling our interviewees to ensure balance and representativity. The project didn't have a gender element though so this wasn't included in our coding as outside of the scope of the research. Diversity and inclusivity were picked up in our analysis though as one of the coding theme due to the diversity of the profession and its shift towards a much more diverse and inclusive profession. The results of the projects, as detailed below, as per its focus on urban planning, have a wider impact on communities, beyond gender. The SAPER project matches directly with two of the SDGs: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Findings from SAPER have key relevance to ongoing discussions happening at both local and national level and through SACPLAN, in the context of the implementation of SPLUMA (the 2013 Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act) and the rising recognition given to the planning profession along with the need to better plan South African cities and hence address SDG11. We have engaged with the relevant bodies, i.e. SACPLAN, of course, which is a key partner of SAPER, SALGA, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), the Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA) and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation through the workshop organised in Pretoria on November 21 2018. In line with this, two briefing notes have also been published on our website (Bridging the gap: the candidacy phase & Matching needs: planners in local government). We are currently developing further impact activities as to disseminate our findings further. Recent political changes meant that engagement with key political decision makers have been delayed. Our results in line with planning capacity, lack of resources, need for alternative ways to deliver mentorships and life-long learning have key relevance for SDG4 and hence why we are currently looking into expanding the research to other African/Commonwealth contexts (please refer to the finding section). The most recent End of Project Conference in South Africa has allowed us to focus on practise conversations, intended to lead to popular guide, "Hitchhikers guide to Urban and Regional Planning in SA" - short publication which provides guidance on how to cope with, and thrive, in the SA planning environment. The aim is here to generate a paper on this, either methods or substantive, with the event providing a practitioners a chance to respond to other practitioners views, and thus providing a second level of verification to data, effectively giving practitioners the voice to tell us what is important to them from the data we gathered. Again, this has a key importance as to tackle the need to provide for a quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities In line with widening the impact of SAPER results to other ODA contexts, we have engaged with the Association of Commonwealth Universities and are exploring ways to explore further on how best to respond to capacity needs and gaps in the African context within the built environment sector and line with key challenges, specifically sustainability and climate change. This will resonate with SDG13 Climate Action.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Education,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Title SACPLAN custom web-based discussion forum 
Description SAPER has mandated SACPLAN to develop a custom web-based discussion forum in its website allowing all SACPLAN members to interact. This is the first initiative aiming to promote and foster online discussion amongst South African planners and allow informal mentoring and support between members. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is currently being finalised so we cannot report on the impact yet. 
 
Title Teaching App 
Description A key output for the SAPER project is the production of an interactive platform allowing the exchange of best practice in planning across the Global North and South. Operating across the desktop and mobile web, the teaching app allows students to collect data in the field and automatically upload this to a shared map. Photographs and text comments uploaded by individual students can then be seen by the wider group and serve as a prompt for discussion. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Initial testing was undertaken in the autumn of 2017 with students undertaking the planning masters courses run by University of the Free State and University of Birmingham. Students found both the desktop and mobile versions of the mapping app simple to use and gathered a range of information about their local areas, focussing on the theme of sustainability. South African students highlighted topics around water use, informality and solid waste management. UK students highlighted topics around mixed use development, sustainable transport, and nature conservation. This testing phase had some limitations in terms of student buy-in for non-assessed work and difficulties with timing meant that online discussions between the South African and UK students could not take place. A second phase of work with the app was undertaken with different cohorts of students in spring and autumn 2018. The autumn cohort included students working in the UK on technology and urban space and South African planning students collaborating on the theme of mapping the informal economy. Overall 33 images and comments were collected by Birmingham students and 68 by South African students. These revealed very interesting contrasts in the understanding of informality between the two student cohorts. Nonetheless, as with the earlier attempts, there were significant problems coordinating activity between the two groups of students and fitting this exercise into established teaching structures. While the app successfully demonstrated the potential for this kind of approach to be adopted, curricula would need to be developed around this potential rather than attempting to bolt it into established modules. 
URL http://www.saperproject.com/collaborate.html
 
Title Internationalisation of Planning Education (UK) 
Description This database relies on the collection of a range of data among UK planning academics and practitioners as to address one of the objectives of the project aiming to assess the extent to which issues raised by a changing colonial context are considered and addressed in the UK undergraduate and postgraduate planning curriculum. By doing we are exploring the implications for urban planning lecturers in the UK when working with students from Africa and the wider Global South. This relies on 3 stages of data collection: 1/ interviews with UK planning academics (12 completed to date); 2/ survey circulated via the RTPI to planning practitioners (ongoing); and 3/ workshop/focus group (forthcoming - this was delayed due to David Adams being away for 6 months). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Data collection is still ongoing as activities have been delayed due to David Adams being away (a no-cost extension has been granted for this specific reason). 
 
Title South African Planning Practitioners - Survey 
Description In the summer 2017 an online questionnaire was distributed to urban planners across South Africa. We received 219 responses collected over a short period. This makes this one of the largest surveys undertaken with planning professionals in South Africa, with as much as 5.6% of all registered and candidate planners in South Africa participating in this survey. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Results gathered from the survey have been analysed and coded alongside with the data gathered with the interviews. We are using this data for publications purposes and impact activities. 
 
Title South African Planning Practitioners and Academics Interviews 
Description Extensive data collection through interviews (preliminary phase in April 2017, and primary phase of data collection between January and May 2018) aiming to address the objectives of the project related to a) the social and economic value of planning education in SA particularly questions of equity and diversity in HE destination choices, graduation rates and employability outcomes; and b) the deconstruction of how the development and delivery of the urban planning undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum addresses issues raised by a changing post-colonial context in SA 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact In total we have conducted 96 interviews (89 with South African planners and 7 with South African education scholars) in various locations including Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Johannesburg, George and Port Elizabeth. The SAPER project (combining both survey results and interviews) has been producing the first comprehensive overview of the state of the profession in South Africa. Data has been analyzed and coded. The team is currently working on outputs and impact activities. 
 
Description Collaboration with SACPLAN 
Organisation South African Council for Planners
Country South Africa 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution SAPER is feeding into SACPLAN's ambition to understand better the needs of planners in term of training and skills. As such, SAPER is informing the work undertaken by SACPLAN who is reviewing planning programmes and accreditation process in South African Planning Schools.
Collaborator Contribution SACPLAN is sitting on the project's advisory committee (in South Africa). Additionally SACPLAN has been providing support in data collection by 1) having circulated the survey which we conducted among South African planning practitioners and 2) getting access to database (e.g. numbers of accredited planners) and 3) providing contacts for the interviews. We have co-organised a seminar with them (along with SCIR) on "Planning capactiy: bridging the gap for young planners and local government".
Impact Data gained out of this collaboration (amongst other research means) led a range of conference presentations: 1/ "(Re)considering and (re)imagining urban planning curriculum in South African Higher Education", presented by Lauren Andres and Lorena Melgaço at the 2017 IBG-RGS Conference, London (disciplines : urban planning and urban geography); 2/ "The resilience, adaptability and transformation of the South African Planning Profession" presented by Verna Nel and Martin Lewis at the II 2017 International Conference on African Urban Planning, Lisbon and 3/ "Setting standards for planners: the South African Council for Planners' standards and competencies process", presented by Martin Lewis and Verna Nel at the II 2017 International Conference on African Urban Planning, Lisbon - both 2 and 3 only relate to the planning discipline. 4/ "SDGs, Planning education & planning practice,  Planning Africa" presentation within the plenary Session on "Africa and the Commonwealth: the achievement of the New Urban Agenda", Cape Town (Andres, Denoon-Stevens, Lewis)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with the RTPI 
Organisation Royal Town Planning Institute RTPI
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This project is directly contributing to the RTPI discussions and agenda on 1/ curriculum and 2/internationalisation. As of February 2019, we are still within the final phase of UK data collection, including the organisation of a workshop with UK academics, practitioners and RTPI representatives to discuss the results of the survey and interviews conducted in 2018. Note, this was delayed due to one of the CO-I being away (SAPER got granted a year no-cost extension for this reason).
Collaborator Contribution The RTPI (Andrew Close) is sitting on the project's advisory committee. Additionally the RTPI has been assisting in circulating through his network of accredited members a survey, produced by SAPER, looking at the relation between urban planning, skills and training and internationalisation.
Impact no yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Engagement with Planners 4 Climate Action / UN Habitat 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department United Nations Environment Programme
Country Kenya 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have engaged with the Planners 4 Climate Action Initiative in line with the SAPER results as this network is keen to draw lesson from the issues faced by planning education in order to better address the challenges of climate change. We are at the stage of initial discussions especially for further impact and research activities.
Collaborator Contribution Planners 4 Climate Action initiative is convened by UN-Habitat, and comprises of associations of planning practitioners and planning educators, as well as individual urban planners, collectively representing tens of thousands of planners worldwide, as well as other partners active in this area. Planners for Climate Action's mission is to catalyse and accelerate climate action through responsible and transformative urban and territorial planning practice, education and research, in the areas of planning practice, capacity building and research. At this stage contribution rests upon initial discussions.
Impact not yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Engagement with the Association of Commonwealth Universities 
Organisation Association of Commonwealth Universities
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution SAPER has engaged in ACU in line with the results we have generated with regard to planning capacity and education in South Africa.
Collaborator Contribution ACU is interested in exploring further collaborations with us in line with the work they are aiming to develop on cities, education, sustainability and climate.
Impact Ongoing. Any collaborations that will arise will be interdisciplinary and include architects and engineers.
Start Year 2019
 
Title Best-practice platform (with CAP) 
Description Developing the teaching app has been a technological testbed for the SAPER team. Based on this work, the Commonwealth Association of Planners agreed to work with SAPER to develop a best-practice platform embedded within the CAP website. This focussed initially on the newly inaugurated CAP Awards programme as well as the CAP Young Planners' essay competition. This platform went live in 2018 and was well received by CAP as a means of showcasing this content as well as showing the geographic reach of the organisation through a series of interactive maps. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Ongoing 
 
Title Project Website (incl. Blog) & Twitter Account 
Description The SAPER project benefits from its own website available via http://www.saperproject.com with a dedicated blog page. Additionally we have a twitter account @SAPER_ESRC_NRF dedicated to the project 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Both tools maximise SAPER's visibility towards a range of audiences; On average the website is visited by 100 persons per week (data provided by weebly) 
URL http://www.saperproject.com
 
Title Teaching App 
Description The teaching app is an interactive platform allowing the exchange of best practice in planning across the Global North and South. Operating across the desktop and mobile web, the teaching app allows students to collect data in the field and automatically upload this to a shared map. Photographs and text comments uploaded by individual students can then be seen by the wider group and serve as a prompt for discussion. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Initial testing was undertaken in the autumn of 2017 with students undertaking the planning masters courses run by University of the Free State and University of Birmingham. Students found both the desktop and mobile versions of the mapping app simple to use and gathered a range of information about their local areas, focussing on the theme of sustainability. South African students highlighted topics around water use, informality and solid waste management. UK students highlighted topics around mixed use development, sustainable transport, and nature conservation. This testing phase had some limitations in terms of student buy-in for non-assessed work and difficulties with timing meant that online discussions between the South African and UK students could not take place. A second phase of work with the app was undertaken with different cohorts of students in spring and autumn 2018. The autumn cohort included students working in the UK on technology and urban space and South African planning students collaborating on the theme of mapping the informal economy. Overall 33 images and comments were collected by Birmingham students and 68 by South African students. These revealed very interesting contrasts in the understanding of informality between the two student cohorts. Nonetheless, as with the earlier attempts, there were significant problems coordinating activity between the two groups of students and fitting this exercise into established teaching structures. While the app successfully demonstrated the potential for this kind of approach to be adopted, curricula would need to be developed around this potential rather than attempting to bolt it into established modules. 
 
Description 6th World Curriculum Studies Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Mischka Jacobus attended on behalf of SAPER the 6th World Curriculum Studies Conference in Victoria (Australia). She presented a paper on " Change has come: the preparedness of academic staff in Urban and Regional Planning to develop and implement a decolonised curriculum". The presentation was well-received and led to follow up questions and requests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://isocarp.org/app/uploads/2018/03/53rd_ISOCARP-OAPA_Congress_Portland_US_2017-PROCEEDINGS_V24_...
 
Description AESOP 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Lorena Melgaço attended the pre-AESOP conference seminar 'Transformative Knowledge for an era of Planetary Urbanization? '10th July 2017 and participated to the debates assessing transfers of knowledge and ideas across context. This was an opportunity to present the SAPER project and connect with other planning academics and practitioners attending the event. It brought new elements to the debate which we fed into the data collection and analysis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Conference Paper presentation: "Understanding the interface between geography and urban planning in South Africa" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation given by Stuart Denoon Stevens at the Society of South African Geographer's biennial Academic and annual Student Conference. Over 200 persons attended the conferences and the presentation allowed raising wider questions about the cross-overs between urban planning and geography in South Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference session and presentation - AAG 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The team attended the Association of American Geographers annual conference, 2-7 April 2019. It organised a session on 'Planning in theory, theory in planning' Panel Session convened by Phil Jones with Charles Corwin, University of Illinois-Chicago and Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, University of Buffalo. A paper was also presented:
Jones P, Andres L, Marques L, Denoon-Stevens S 'When strategies collide: de Certeau and South African planning' Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Washington DC 2-7 April 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Dialogue with planning practitioners in Bloemfuntein 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting with circa 10 planning practitioners in Bloemfontein in April 2017 allowed presenting the project and raising its awareness. Ongoing fieldwork (February - May 2018) in the Free State is currently taking place as to pursue those discussions further while gathering additional data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Engagement with Planning Practitioners in Cape Town - April 2017 and Febrary 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UK team met in Cape Town (South Africa) with 13 planning practitioners in April 2017 and February 2018. The goal was dual: present the project to practitioners & raise the profile of SAPER and collect data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description IBG RGS 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact 2 members of the UK team attended the 2017 IBG_RGS conference which included a presentation of the preliminary results of SAPER (out of the first stage of data collection - survey among South African practitioners) entitled (Re) considering and (re) imagining urban planning curriculum in South African Higher Education and the attendance to the event to 'Beyond the talk': Decolonising Teaching and Research in Geography - A RACE alternative event. On both occasion, the SAPER project was presented and opportunities occurred for engagement with debates and networking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description International Geographical Union Commission Geography of Governance Annual Conference - Lisbon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The South African team attended the IGU conference in Lisbon.
Ruth Massey; Stuart Denoon-Stevens & Verna Nel presented at the International Geographical Union Commission Geography of Governance Annual Conference 'Fifty years of local governance' a paper looking at "planning practice at local government level in South Africa: challenges, implications and new approaches". Rouve Bingle, Mischka Jacobus and Verna Nel also presented a paper on 'Taking the moral high ground - exploring the impact of local government on ethical planning practices'.
Over 100 attendees were participating to the event and this allowed engaging further with related debates and colleagues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description LOCAL AND URBAN GOVERNANCE: TRENDS, CHALLENGES AND INNOVATIONS IN A GLOBALIZING WORLD - University of Cape Verde 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The team (Verna Nel & Stuart Denoon-Stevens) presented a paper on "Decolonising land use management in South Africa) at the conference "Local and urban governance: trends, challenges and innovations in a globalizing world"- University of Cape Verde, Cidade da Praia, 4 - 7 September 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://sites.google.com/site/igugeogovprogfull2019/
 
Description Meeting with Planning Practitioner from HTA Design LLP (September 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UK team met with a South African practitioner from HTA Design LLP (Riette Oosthuizen) as to explore the preliminary results from SAPER and explore its relevancy with regard to her experience in South Africa (as student, academic and practitioner) and in the UK (as practitioner). This led to further thoughts on the areas for queries as well as possible collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with Representative from World Bank (Febrary 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UK PI met with a representative from the World Bank and former South African practitioner (Larry English) as to discuss the SAPER project, its ambition, preliminary results and discuss possible collaborations and follow-up projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with SALGA - South Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On 14 May 2018, Stuart Denoon-Stevens, Lorena Melgaço, Elsona van Huysteen met with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) which is the constitutionally mandated organisation responsible for local government oversight. This was an opportunity to engage with them as per the work conducted by SAPER and start to raise awareness about the intermediary findings of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with UK academics - Oxford (September 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact UK team met with two UK academics (Dr Jo Waters, University of Oxford and Dr Lucy Natarajan, UCL) with expertise in international planning (incl. at the RTPI) and international education (geography background) as to discuss further the connection of SAPER with the wider decolonisation and internationalisation debate. This led to a range of thoughts and suggestions which are currently explored further in data collection and paper writing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Planning Africa 2018, Cape Town 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UK and SA team attended the Planning Africa 2018 Conference, Cape Town. This is a major event organised by the South African Planning Institute and attended by a range of practitioners, politicians and academics.
Activities included: participation to the CAP business meetings (Andres and Denoon Stevens); presentation of paper (Training planners to create Sustainable and Resilient Cities - Denoon Stevens); keynote presentation SDGs, Planning education & planning practice, Planning Africa - Plenary Session on "Africa and the Commonwealth: the achievement of the New Urban Agenda (Andres, Denoon Stevens and Lewis). The event led to a range of networking activities with SACPLAN, SALGA and CAP.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Planning Regional Futures, Regional Studies Association Winter Conference, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lauren Andres attended the Regional Studies Winter Conference "New Horizons for Cities and Regions in a Changing World" on November 15&16 in London. Lauren was invited to sit on a panel session discussing "Planning Regional Futures" along with Prof. Mark Tewdwr-Jones and Prof. Simin Davoudi from Newcastle University as well as Prof. Vanessa Watson from the University of Cape Town (South Africa). Lauren also presented two papers. First, with John Bryson (CityREDI), a paper on "Planning for Regional Futures in the Global South: Shifting Siloed Approach to Place-based integrated Planning in Africa"; the latest has been written with Hakeem Bakare (ASAP RF) as well as Winnie Khaemba and George Mwaniki, from the African Center for Technology Studies (Nairobi - Kenya). The paper drawing upon the results of the ASAP-East Africa Project (PI Francis Pope) as well as SAPER and building upon John and Lauren's book " A Research Agenda for Regeneration Economies Reading City Regions" (Elgar) argued for a need to advocate for a new form of planning, which will be both responsible and able to drive inclusive prosperity. Second, Lauren through her presentation on "Idealism and Resistance in Spatial Planning: Questioning the New Horizons of Planning Education" discussed some of the insights from the SAPER project and argued that planning educators and mentors need to challenge presenting ideas of ideal planning as means to tactically resist the messy realities of planning practice. The paper was written with Phil Jones, Lorena Melgaço and Stuart Denoon Stevens (University of the Free State - South Africa). In addition to networking, the event allowed sharing more widely SAPER results and engaging with further debates about planning in the Global South.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Production of Briefing Notes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Publication in October 2018 of two briefing notes on "Bridging the gap: the candidacy phase" - and "Matching needs: planners in local government" targeting practitioners as well as local and national governmental bodies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.saperproject.com/resources.html
 
Description SA Conference 28 Nov 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference focused on practise conversations, intended to lead to popular guide, "Hitchhikers guide to Urban and Regional Planning in SA" - short publication which provides guidance on how to cope with, and thrive, in the SA planning environment. Aim is also to generate a paper on this, either methods or substantive, with the event providing a practitioners a chance to respond to other practitioners views, and thus providing a second level of verification to data, effectively giving practitioners the voice to tell us what is important to them from the data we gathered.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description SAPER & CSIR & SACPLAN seminar: "Planning Capacity _ Bridging the gap for young planners & local government" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On, 21/11/2018, Stuart Denoon-Stevens, Verna Nel, Martin Lewis, Mischka Jacobus, Emmie Smit, Elsona van Huysteen organised the first impact workshop in partnership with CSIR & SACPLAN looking at "Planning Capacity _ Bridging the gap for young planners & local government". This was an opportunity to engage with practitioners and policy-makers further as to highlight the key results from SAPER (displayed in the briefing notes published on our website). The event was attended by over 20 key stakeholders and led to further interest towards addressing skills gaps and needs for young planning graduates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Seminar: Think Planning - Think Global Planning Challenges in the Commonwealth. RTPI / CAP Seminar organised in partnership with the SAPER project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SAPER partnered with the RTPI and CAP to organise a seminar looking at the challenges faced by planning in the Commonwealth context. The seminar was introduced by the RTPI president, John Acres and included presentations from Clive Harridge, Hector Pearson, Philip Clarke, Riette Oosthuizen, Louise Brook-Smith, Cliff Hague and Lauren Andres. Over 60 participants attended the event which allowed questioning the role of planning across the Commonwealth and stressing the importance of SAPER work and results in tackling practitioners' needs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description South African Steerring Group Comitee (October 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The South African team met with the seven steering group members of the project. After an introduction to the project, of its main aims and objectives, and the progress made to date, the Advisory Group debated the strengths and weaknesses of South African planning education in South Africa's higher education institutions, and discusses how the SAPER project might address these and other concerns that have been raised. The Advisory Group also provided useful contacts and links to resources that will assist the SAPER project's delivery.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.saperproject.com/blog
 
Description UK 2nd Steering Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On November 27th, the SAPER project held its second steering committee meeting. External attendees included: Dr Riette Oosthuizen, partner in planning at HTA Design LLP, Prof. Cliff Hague, emeritus professor of planning and spatial development at Heriot-Watt University and freelance researcher and author, Paul Watson, independent planning consultant and former strategic director for regeneration and development at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Clive Harridge, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), Rebecca Farr, principal development planning officer at Birmingham City Council, Jacob Bonehill, strategic delivery advisor at West Midlands Combined Authorities, Andrew Close, head of careers, education and professional development at the RTPI and Dr Patricia Noxolo, senior lecturer in cultural geography in GEES.

It was a very productive day, which started with Lauren Andres (PI) and Lorena Melgaço (RF) presenting the results and analysis of the 2017 survey and the interviews conducted in the first semester of 2018 in South Africa. During the morning session, the steering group highlighted the positive outcomes of the survey and interviews and discussed possible crossovers with British planning education for example in regards to the level of satisfaction of professionals with their education and the profession. Wider debates also occurred in line with the competencies of the planners versus the challenges to address, the wider questions behind decolonising knowledge throughout North/South, South/South learning and the issue of race and racialisation.
In the afternoon, the internationalisation of UK planning education was discussed, with Lorena presenting some of the preliminary data collected through interviews and a short survey with British planners. Phil Jones (Co-I) also presented the teaching app pilot conducted between the University of Birmingham and University of the Free State students and the steering group commented on its potential for duplication in core MSc degrees.
The group spent the final part of the session discussing impact and outreach activities carried out in South Africa and internationally. This was an opportunity to present the 'Good Practice Platform' developed by SAPER (Phil Jones) for the Commonwealth Association of Planners (https://www.commonwealth-planners.org/good-practice-platform) as well as the prototype discussion board currently designed with SACPLAN (South African Planning Association) to support planners on the ground. Those activities are complementing the range of other impact events and outputs (incl. range of briefing notes - http://www.saperproject.com/resources.html) the team has been attending and producing in the last six months linking up with the relevant institutions in South Africa such as SAPI (South African Planning Institute), DRDLR (Department for rural development and land reform), COGTA (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), SALGA (South African Local Government Association), DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration), and also worldwide such as CAP, World Economic Forum and UN Habitat. Suggestions towards supplementary engagement pathways in the UK were sketched by the steering group members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UK Ireland Planning Research conference, Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lauren Andres, Lorena Melgaço, Phil Jones, Stuart Denoon-Stevens presented a paper at the 2018 UK Ireland Planning Research conference looking at Responsibility and resistance: planning for (and with) entrenched inequality. This was an opportunity to engage with the academic community about SAPER results.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UK Steering Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 9 planning practitioners and academics were invited to the first steering group meeting of the project. In addition to providing wider feedback , the discussion led to a range of questions and debate about informality, inequalities and planning education, formats of planning Higher Education, international education and the wider concept of decolonisation. This raised the profile of the SAPER project towards wider institutions and led to a increased interest towards the project and its key research questions while opening new possible areas for collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.saperproject.com/blog
 
Description UN Habitat and World Economic Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We have started engaging with UN Habitat (Nairobi) and the World Economic Forum (Geneva) as to present the work SAPER is doing and exploring possible impact activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description iCities Conference: Grounded Planning 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Elsona van Huyssteen, Mark Oranje, Stuart-Denoon Stevens, and Lauren Andres presented a paper on "Grounded learning as heroic planning education practice: Promises and Pathways" at the iCities Conference: Grounded Planning: University Social Responsibility and Reflections on Planning Education and Practices, in Taiwan (October 26-28, 2018 at National Cheng Kung University). Over 80 attended participated to the event. The paper was well received and led to a range of follow-up questions on planning education in South Africa and the Global South.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018