9 Mar 2016

This is a guest post by Dr Sarah Ayres, Chair of the Political Studies Research Commission, Regional Studies Association Board Member and Reader in Public Policy and Governance at the University of Bristol. The post presents in shord the findings and recommendations of the project Examining the role of ‘informal governance’ on devolution to England’s cities. Follow the link for more details.
"Devolution to English cities is not sustainable without greater transparency and legitimacy in decision making" that is the conclusion of the Political Studies Association’s Research Commission to examine the role of ‘informal governance’ on devolution to England’s cities. The Commission is chaired by Dr Sarah Ayres (University of Bristol and Board Member of the Regional Studies Association) and has involved the following Commissioners - Paul Buddery (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Dr Jo Casebourne (Institute for Government), Tessa Coombes (University of Bristol), Ed Cox (Institute for Public Policy Research) and Mark Sandford (House of Commons Library).
The Commission is launching its report at a round table event at the Institute for Government on 3rd March 2016. The report offers some reflections on the process of decision making around the devolution deals to date. It draws on the shared learning and experiences of key actors involved to identify elements that have worked well and also potential areas for improvement. It concludes that the devolution agenda offers a real opportunity to empower local areas, boost economic productivity and improve public services. Yet, there is a danger that the initiative will falter in the absence of greater clarity around process and enhanced local ownership of decision making.
The UK has long been regarded as one of the most centralised states in Europe. Yet, since the Scottish Referendum and the election of a Conservative Government in May 2015, the devolution agenda in England has moved forward at a rapid pace. It offers a real opportunity to significantly transform the way England is governed. There is energy and momentum behind English devolution that has the potential to address growing public concerns about the governance of England in a devolved United Kingdom. Central Government proposals for devolution have been met largely with enthusiasm from local areas and there is a firm commitment in parts of Government to see the devolution of power in core policy areas such as transport, economic development and regeneration and public service reform.
However, the devolution agenda, and more specifically the process of negotiating the recent round of devolution deals, is characterised by a high degree of ‘informal governance’. Informal governance can be defined ‘as a means of decision-making that is un-codified, non-institutional and where social relationships and webs of influence play crucial roles’ (Harsh, 2013, 481)[1]. The issue of informality in policy making is particularly timely as global nations and cities seek to manage multifaceted policy problems within contested, complex and uncertain environments. This development has prompted a new style of political leadership - one that relies less on bureaucracy and formal structures and more on networks and informal relations. However, informal governance raises important questions about effectiveness and transparency in policy making. On the one hand it can lead to greater efficiency through more timely and streamlined decision making, based on high trust relationships. On the other, it may weaken transparency, accountability and legitimacy by undermining traditional (more formal) administrative structures.
Informal governance is everywhere in policy making but the devolution agenda is characterised by a particularly high degree of informal governance. The fact that guidance and procedure are absent generates scepticism and suspicion from some participants, councillors, and the public. This could damage the democratic legitimacy, and hence the sustainability, of the policy. The UK government is embarking on fundamental constitutional change driven largely by informal ways of working. While there are undoubtedly benefits to more informal and fluid governance arrangements, there is a danger that devolution could be undermined if key actors and the public feel disenfranchised by and disconnected from the process. More specifically, the Commission makes the following key recommendations:
  • Procedures for making decisions about devolution deals need to be more open and transparent. There is a need for ‘light touch’ guidance on (i) central government objectives (ii) what policy areas might be included in the deals (iii) characteristics of a successful bid (iv) how implementation might be monitored and (v) central and local government expectations for consultation and engagement.
  • The Government needs to better articulate the benefits of a combined authority and metro mayor if broad support for this element is to be garnered.
  • HM Treasury needs to stay involved in the implementation of devolution deals to ensure that the commitment to and momentum behind the deals remain.
  • There needs to be more emphasis on sharing good practice about how deals are negotiated across Whitehall departments and local areas to promote policy experimentation, learning and innovation.
  • Combined authorities need to move quickly to drive public engagement and wider stakeholder collaboration in implementation.
  • The Commission’s findings and recommendations are consistent with other recent evaluations of the devolution deal process. For example Devolution: the next five years and beyond[2] identifies concerns about the pace of the devolution agenda, a lack of rigour in procedures and concerns over public engagement and consultation. Empowering Counties: Unlocking county devolution deals[3] calls for greater clarity on the purpose, process and timescale for devolution. Moreover, Making devolution deals work[4] offers guidance and a check list on how to make effective devolution deals. Our findings seek to contribute to this debate and to offer critical reflections on how to develop and improve plans for devolution in the future.
Full report also available here.


[1] Harsh, M. (2013) ‘Informal governance of emerging technologies in Africa’, in Christiansen, T. and Neuhold, C. Ed, International Handbook on Informal Governance, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp 481-501.
[2] Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Select Committee (2016) devolution: the next five years and beyond, Draft report, February.
[3] Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) (2015) Empowering Counties: Unlocking county devolution deals, November.
[4] Institute for Government (Ifg) (2016) Making devolution deals work, January.

3 Mar 2016

An interview with the current ESRC White Rose DTC Collaborative PhD research student

Michael Taster is a current PhD research student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. He is the current recipient of the ESRC White Rose DTC Collaborative PhD Studentship from the University of Sheffield co-sponsored by the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and Taylor & Francis.

He has an MA in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Sheffield, and undertook a BA and MSt in Classical Archaeology at Oxford University.

We asked him to tell us about his current research, what he has gained from the collaborative PhD studentship, what he sees as the challenges of being an early career researcher (ECR), and what advice he’d offer other ECRs.

What is the focus of your research?

The focus of my current research is on the impact that new technology is having on scholarly communications. Working under the somewhat cumbersome title of; “The Creation and Reproduction of Policy Relevant Spatial Knowledge and New Publishing Models: A Case Study of Regional Studies”. I see my research as looking at two processes; first, how is academic knowledge that can have an impact on the world being constructed, and second, how are new communication technologies, such as open access publishing, Facebook, Twitter, etc. disrupting and enhancing the presentation of this knowledge.

How did you find out about the collaborative PhD studentship?

Despite researching the effects of new technology on academia, I was first made aware of the opportunity to undertake this PhD through the old fashioned medium of face-to-face interaction. Studying in the same faculty as my supervisor Gordon Dabinett, who has a long involvement with the Regional Studies Association (RSA), and the editor of the RSA’s gold open access journal Regional Studies, Regional Science (RSRS)¸ Alasdair Rae. I came to realise that I was working in a scholarly environment in which publications such as RSRS were quietly revolutionising the way knowledge is communicated. After a meeting with the chief executive of the RSA, I was convinced that the project, especially with the support of Taylor & Francis and the RSA, has the potential to shed light on these unfolding developments.

What level of mentoring and support does it offer?

Working with Taylor & Francis and the RSA has benefited me greatly, due to the opportunities and access offered through collaboration. Having the chance to meet and network with peers and key thinkers in the worlds of publishing and regional studies has greatly enhanced my thinking at this early stage of my research. I was particularly fortunate to have been able to attend the recent Taylor & Francis Conversazione in December. Talking to attendees from across different disciplines and professions presented a unique opportunity to gain a broad perspective on the field of scholarly communication. This has impacted on my research and would have been difficult to gain otherwise.

What are the challenges of being an ECR and embarking on publishing your research?

Reflecting on my experiences of the Conversazione, I think one of the most difficult hurdles for an early career researcher is developing the confidence and belief that your work can and should be published alongside more established voices in the field. I consider myself lucky to be working alongside partners who are actively supportive of academics at the beginning of their career and seek new ways to present their work.

If you could give other ECRs one piece of advice what would it be?

To explore how you can integrate your work with new communications media. In an era where the gateways to top quality research papers range from established publishers to Instagram, there is real scope to present your work in a creative and accessible manner.

The collaborative PhD studentship is sponsored by the Regional Studies Association (RSA) in collaboration with Taylor & Francis and the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield. It is supervised by Prof. Gordon Dabinett and Dr. Alasdair Rae (University of Sheffield) and Sally Hardy (Regional Studies Association). 

Original article published on Author Services by Taylor & Francis

6 Jan 2016

The year 2015 represented an important year the Regional Studies Association. This year we celebrated the 50th year of activity, and as the year comes to a close it is important that we look back and acknowledge the achievements of the RSA since its inception in 1965, and assess where the Association stands in our middle age.

Evaluating the work and achievements of the RSA was made easy for all of us through the book written by James Hopkins out of his PhD, entitled "Knowledge, Networks and Policy: Regional Studies in Postwar Britain and Beyond".  It's a great and recommended read and it reminds all of us of just how far the RSA has come over its relatively short history.

When we turn to consider where the RSA stands in 2015 there is much to be proud of:

  • we have the highest membership in our history
  • our members are spread throughout the globe with more than 40 nations represented amongst our ranks;
  • we balanced across our categories of membership – individual, corporate, associate, early career and student members;
  • the membership is distributed across our four geographical bands (A, B, C, D)  This is part of our conscious strategy to make the Association as inclusive as possible for scholars from a range of countries including those with recognised funding difficulties;
  • we are a youthful and dynamic Association with 40% of our members being early career academics or students. 

The Association is exceptionally active it terms of conferences and other types of events. In 2015 the RSA hosted major conferences in Piacenza, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; Hangzhou, China; London, United Kingdom, as well as the Early Career Conference in Sheffield.  Our Research Networks organised and conducted numerous additional events.

The Hangzhou Conference – our second in China – is indicative of the embracing nature of the Association and its membership.   The conference had 120 registrants from 22 countries, 4 plenary speakers, 25 workshop sessions, and 96 papers.

But this, of course, is only indicative of a broader effort: throughout 2015 the Association had more than 2500 participants at its events.

Our publication efforts are – if anything – even more impressive.  In 2015 we published 24 journal issues across our four titles (Regional Studies; Spatial Economic Analysis; Territory, Politics, Governance; Regional Studies, Regional Science). That represents approximately 1.4million words of scholarship in only one year! This was in addition to the 17 books we published in a series that currently boasts 125 titles so far. We also set up to launch our fifth journal in 2016 – aimed at the greater BRICS – Area Development and Policy offers researchers the chance to publish in their own research tradition rather than having to conform to a Euro-American style.

The RSA has emerged as an important source of research funding for its membership. In 2015 we provided financial support to:

  • 6 MeRSA grants;
  • 2 FeRSA grants;
  • 5 Early Career Researcher Grants;
  • 5 Research Networks in their new, expanded, format; 
  • and 3 travel grants.  

The total value of this investment stood at £150,000 or 1.5million RMB.  This was in addition to the 34 conference bursaries and 6 travel grants we awarded.

But the RSA isn’t just about the numbers. It is fundamentally an association of people and the exchange of ideas.  In 2015 we acknowledged a number of distinguished individuals, with Prof Ron Martin appointed as President, and Professors Lu Dadou, Ann Markusen, Dirk Ahner, Allen Scott, Clelio Campolina, and Flavia Martinelli appointed Vice Presidents.

The Regional Studies Association is a welcoming body, and as part of our efforts to better serve the field we collected feedback that tells us that our Early Career Grants and early career journal editorial posts build careers, with many recipients securing promotion or a new appointment through the life of their grant or editorship.  We are also told that our conferences are friendly and welcoming and that the networking and training opportunities we offer are useful and relevant.

And as Brian Robson, the former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Manchester University said at the President’s event in November
The RSA is clearly busy and active, but what is so impressive is that friendly buzz and the members’ enthusiasm for the Association.
It's been a wonderful 50 years, a fantastic 50th Year and we continue to build an even more promising and embracing future.

25 Nov 2015

This is a guest post by RSA Student Representative, Eduardo Oliveira. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in strategic spatial planning & place branding at the Department of Spatial Planning, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. To find out more about Eduardo: Academic Publications - LinkedIn - Presentations - Blog - RSA Student Representative

I have been recently challenged by the editorial team of thRegional Studies, Regional Science (RSRS) to briefly share my ideas and experience on sharing my publications, specifically my article published in the Early Career section of RSRS, through social media platforms. With this post, I aim to share with the readers my viewpoints on how sharing published research findings on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms can boost readership of a paper and desirably your career. As above mentioned, I will particularly focus on my latest article - Constructing regional advantage in branding the cross-border Euroregion Galicia–northern Portugal which has recently reached the second position of the most read articles published in Regional Studies, Regional Science. In addition, and according to RSRS editorial team, the article is the first most read article of the Early Career articles and it’s in the top 5% of all articles ever tracked by Altmetric with an Altmetric score of 51.

The paper was published in 11 of May 2015 and since that date I have been sharing it via different social media platforms almost in daily bases. The fact that the journal also offers open access makes it easier to tweet, post or blog the link which gives access to the article as well as the possibility to download it – without any costs. I mainly have been tweeting my article as well as posting it on LinkedIn or Facebook groups devoting attention to regional development. I have been doing it in different ways that eventually will inspire my fellow early career colleagues and the readers of this blog in general to also submit a paper proposal. I have been using Twitter to share the link to the paper by “targeting” potential interested readers – those who have been doing research on the same topic or related ones (in this case constructing regional advantage, strategic planning, place branding) as well as policy makers working closely to the research area, for the matter the Euroregion Galicia-northern Portugal (in this case governmental entities in Spain and Portugal as well as European Union institutions). I have been fortunate enough to see the link being shared several times by other Twitter users, including by some national and supra-national governmental institutions. This snowball effect produced by multiple shares on social media, it definitely generates additional views and increases the readership. I often say that is a tailored made tweet - which cares about the readers and cares about the content. I have been employing this tailored made posting on Facebook as well by posting the link on large discussion groups of people interested in understand regional dynamics, regional development and looking for envisioning better futures for Galicia in Spain and the northern Portuguese region. As my aim is not to make of a scientific topic a subject matter of a daily tabloid, but instead increment the discussion around the topic, I opt to share the link with additional information following new regional policies or decisions which impact the research area or the countries involved.

In my viewpoint sharing a published paper with preliminary or final research findings not only gives the possibility to share knowledge about certain topic or research area but also helps researchers to position themselves in the academic discussion, for instance among those conducting research on regional studies and regional science as well as contribute to praxis. In addition, and I am sure that my fellow colleagues will agree with me on this matter, in today’s competitive academic job market and beyond, it is of paramount importance to let the world know our expertise through publications and other relevant academic outputs. Sharing published work on social media platforms could also open doors for career opportunities as potential employees (for example, universities, research centres, NGOs, enterprises) will get to know our work in an easy and dynamic way. With dynamic here I mean the multiple possible ways we can choose to share knowledge in a freely, friendly and fruitfully manner.

I hope the readers of this blog find my experience and methodology on using social media to spread research findings and published work useful.

To conclude, in my personal view an early career research could benefit from a clear win-win relation between publishing a paper on the Early Career Section of RSRS – sharing the link to the published work and the open access publishing. The mentored route of the Early Career Section is helpful and constructive. The open access format allows accessing the article without any additional fees for the reader, which in turn contributes to knowledge exchange across different social media platforms. It is very important to believe in our work as well as being confident in our research and in the academic and practical value of our findings. The final version of my article, improved with the help of the corresponding editors and other experts, gives me highly confidence on the findings and I do believe that it can inspire other regions to develop a similar approach as well as inspire early career to invest in an Early Career paper for RSRS. Bearing in mind these positive sides, I have been spreading the article worldwide. The RSRS editorial team will welcome with enthusiasm your unique, novel and interesting paper proposal. 

10 Nov 2015

This is a guest post by Julie Tian Miao, the RSA's Early Career Representative. Julie Miao is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Development at Glasgow University, and Glasgow-Nankai Postgraduate School in China. 

The paper I am summarising today reports the first stage findings from my Regional Studies Association (RSA) Early Career Grant [November 2013 round], to which I am very grateful to.

In a nutshell, my RSA project intends to explore the potential disjuncture between the centralised social-institutional arrangement and the decentralised techno-economic system in China. I was inspired by the studies (such as Peck & Zhang, 2013) on the emerging Sino-capitalism regime but disappointed by the reductionist ‘neoliberalism’ label that broad-brush China’s distinctive social and economic evolution. As a scholar who witnessed China’s reforms over the past three decades, I am more than aware that the Central government still (have to) retain a firm hand over a wide range of social-institutional management and activities, partly because the fear of social disturbance and partly because the greater economic localism and decentralisation. Here, ironically, the faster economic neoliberalism in China seems has resulted in sustained (or even strengthened) bureaucratic-authoritarian in its social affair management.

Departure from this wider background, I focused my attention on China’s social housing provision as one example of its social-institutional responsibilities; and its labour market as showcase of its economic dimension. Spatial boundary was set on around the three National Self-Innovation Model Zones in China, namely Beijing Zhongguancun Science Park (Z-Park); Shanghai Zhangjiang Science Park (Z-SHIPs), and Wuhan Optics Valley of China (OVC), because I see the housing-labour imbalance to be the severest around these industry agglomerations. Three research aims were set for this project:
  • To profile Chinese policy evolutions and governance for labour markets and affordable housing;
  • To identify disjuncture in the different mixes of state-market relations in different regions;
  • To discuss civil society and government responses to emerging problems. 

This paper on ‘Housing the Knowledge Economy’ mainly addressed the latter two questions, in particular the awareness of social housing providers to the housing needs of knowledge workers. These issues were analysed mainly through secondary data analysis, assisted by interviews with local and national authorise and science parks’ managers. This method was chosen because the supply effect of social housing was the main concern of this paper instead of the demand. Based on extensive documentary coding and analysis, it was found that for China as a whole, its labour market has been liberalised to a similar extend as that in the West, but Beijing is still the ‘central nervous’ in setting targets of social housing constructions, which has resulted in substantial disjuncture between where people get paid and where people get housed.  Nonetheless, regional variations were prominent.

Frequency of the key dimensions appeared in the three SPs and national key regulations.
Source: the author
In Z-Park, where the most acute work-live imbalance was identified, the local authorities were least explicit in their social housing (or even commercial housing) commitment. Along with spatial expansion of Z-Park outside the central districts of Beijing, more social housing for Z-Park employees was provided at the outskirt and financed by the municipal government. In Z-SHIPs, attention to the housing needs of science park employees was much more noticeable. But what made Z-SHIPs stood out was its reliance on the market to provide affordable housing, a model that bears similarity to that in the West. In OVC, where land constrain was not as severe as the other two, the real estate sector has long been identified as the pillar of local development. Social housing was public financed and distributed, and often located far from city centre, a patter similar to Z-Park. But the much more aggressive real estate development in OVC raised the concern of its real ‘high-tech’ and innovation commitment.
By distinguishing China’s social-institutional and techno-economic domains, this research could uncover the multiple faces of the widely debated Sino-capitalism. Another novelty aspect of this research lies in identifying the possible inconsistent pace towards neoliberalism both temporarily and regionally, which in turn could hamper the overall system function as a result of the ‘Buckets Effect’. This draws policy attention to a systematic approach in promoting knowledge economy. A following paper from this project, which is based on questionnaire survey of knowledge workers, will further explore such inconsistence around the three Science Parks from the demand side.   

21 Sep 2015

This is a guest post by RSA Student Representative, Eduardo Oliveira. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in strategic spatial planning & place branding at the Department of Spatial Planning, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
I am quite sure that the readers of this blog and my fellow colleagues are aware of the myriad of publications offered by Regional Studies Association (see the list here). RSRS is an interdisciplinary open access journal from the Regional Studies Association which offers to potential authors the opportunity to reach as wide an audience as possible through the open access publishing route. This open access means that the article will be accessible worldwide and perpetually. The RSRS welcomes submissions on regional issues in economics, geography, planning, political science, and related fields, produced, for instance, by early careers researchers. The journal has a section specifically devoted to Early Career Papers which focuses on publishing short articles from students and early career researchers to make their research accessible to a wider audience. Articles in the Early Career Papers section will have a regional focus and will succinctly present the research questions and results whether preliminary or final.
I found the Early Career section a great vehicle to publish intermediate results of my research project. Being an open access journal, following a rigorous and meticulous process of review by a notable and experienced editorial team as well as external peer-reviewers, I knew in advance that the manuscript could reach a larger audience. I would like to underline here that the publishing process was challenging, as academic publishing is, but very also a very rewarding one.
The aim of the editorial team is to publish novel, insightful and unique research findings. The team is highly committed to support early career researchers all the way through, from the paper proposal to the final version of the manuscript. It was a challenging process, as I had to improve the manuscript for several times bringing additional literature and highlighting the uniqueness of the findings. At the same time, it was also a very rewarding route as I have learned a lot during the revision - I have developed new ideas and consequently polish the theoretical framework. The 3000 words as maximum length for the articles challenges researchers to go straight to the point and indeed focuses on the most relevant findings – this particular element is also very relevant to boost readership as we all like to get new information in a fast, pragmatic and straightforward way. I have received great comments that have definitely helped me to bring the paper to a higher level. I can convincingly state there that I greatly benefit of the mentored route to publication the journal offers for early careers to publish their work.
I hope to have inspired some early careers to prepare a paper proposal. I would like to remind the readers that the editors of the Early Career Papers section are currently seeking submissions of paper proposals for short articles (max. 3,000 words as mentioned above). The next deadline for paper proposals is 15 of October 2015 (please read the information here and consider submitting).
Additional information of relevant interest for early careers is that the Regional Studies Association is currently organising the next - Early Career Conference 2015 - From Early Careers to Established Profiles: Strategies for Success, 29th - 30th October, 2015 at ICOSS, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK and also welcomes abstracts ( info. here). Read here the summary of last year Early Career Conference in Sheffield - Sheffield at a glance: widening career horizons through open access publishing.

28 Aug 2015

As part of the Regional Studies Association‘s 50th anniversary new funding schemes and increased funding for Research Networks have been agreed.

By offering these, the Association is seeking to raise the profile of regional research and its contribution if appropriate, to policy and practice. Research awards will be judged on the basis of the excellence of the research proposal and the ability of the applicant to communicate the results of the research broadly.

Please note that these schemes are open to RSA members only. However, non-members are encouraged to apply and join the RSA at the same time (not applicable for the Fellowship Research Grant).

Travel Grants

The RSA offers its members’ up to £500 towards travel costs when attending a non - RSA event. Recipients of the Travel Grant must be a member of the Association at the time of the application, at the time of travel and claim. Non-members are encouraged to apply and join the RSA at the same time.

  • Value: up to £500 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Application deadlines in 2015: Friday 28th August, 3pm (GMT); Friday 27th November, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-travel-grant

Membership Research Grant (NEW)

This is a new research funding scheme introduced in 2015 which is intended primarily to provide opportunities for mid-career scholars who have already published in the field of regional studies and or science and who are current Individual members of the RSA.

  • Value: up to £5,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 30th October 2015, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-MeRSA-Grant

Fellowship Research Grant (NEW)

This new award is open to Fellows of the RSA only. RSA Fellows are members who have been continuous members for a minimum of 5 years and who have also been defined as “active members”. This means that they have contributed to the life of the Association through serving on the Board or committees, have spoken at conferences, have applied for funding etc. Please email the membership team at membership@regionalstudies.org to check your eligibility for this category of membership.

  • Value: up to £7,500 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 30th October 2015, 3pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/rsa-fellowship-research-grant-scheme

The RSA Early Career Award

Who is it for?

This award is open to single applicants in their early career (five years maximum between the date showing on the certificate and the application deadline). Applicants must be based within an eligible higher education institution (HEI) and must be a current, early career member of the Regional Studies Association and throughout the duration of the grant (please note that applicants may apply for membership at the same time as applying for the grant).

  • Value: up to £10,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: Maximum time span of 18 months and reporting conditions apply
  • Application process: A two stage application process applies
  • Application deadline (first selection round): 31st May 2016, 3pm (GMT) 

Webpage: http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/early-career-grant-scheme

2015-2016 Research Networks’ Funding Scheme

In 2015, the Association introduced an increased Research Networks’ funding scheme which is part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Association and available in 2015 and 2016 only. RSA Research Networks are formed by RSA members interested in meeting to examine an issue that responds to the aims and goals of the Association and is of interest and concern to members of the Association as well as non-members. The issue needs not necessarily to have a direct policy focus but the examination would normally lead to policy related conclusions.

  • Value: up to £10,000 (or its equivalent in US$ or € depending upon the exchange rate at the time of the award).
  • Timeframe: minimum of 3 years and reporting conditions apply
  • Application deadline: 31st July 2016, 4pm (GMT)

Webpage: www.regionalstudies.org/research

2016 RSA Awards

The call for the 2015 RSA Awards is now open for the following categories:

  • Nathaniel Lichfield Award 2015 (Taught Masters)
  • RSA and Routledge Early Career Award 2015 (Early Careers)
Since 2011, The Regional Studies Association has allocated financial resources to support its members and offer a range of funding opportunities to suit different career stages. These opportunities provide members with the chance to apply for financial help to support their research, run networking events, receive awards for excellence and help towards the costs of travel to attend non RSA events and present their work to international audiences.

  • Value: up to £500 in cash (In case the award is assigned to two or more nominees, the prize will be divided equally among the winners), a certificate and up to a discretionary £200 towards travel to attend the RSA President's Event 2015 in London, UK on the 19th November 2015.
  • Application deadline: 31st May 2016, 4pm (GMT)
Webpage: http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding/page/awards-2015

For more details on the RSA’s Awards, Funding and Research Schemes please visit http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding, and for related queries email Auréliane Beauclair, Development Manager at aureliane.beauclair [at] regionalstudies [dot] org.

24 Aug 2015


In just 24 years (1989-2013), the EU Cohesion Policy has shifted its main strategic intervention goals several times. In short, while in earlier times a stronger focus was put on (i) improving human capital; (ii) supporting companies; and (iii) building and modernizing physical infrastructures, the present development paradigm, expressed in the Europe 2020 Strategy (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth), highlights the need to develop a greener and more competitive economy, based on knowledge and innovation, while fostering a high-employment economy, which delivers social and territorial cohesion.

This also reflects the Lisbon Treaty’s recognition that the European Union needs not only to promote social and economic cohesion, but also ‘territorial cohesion’. Yet, as the Territorial Agenda (TA2020) from 2011 expresses, ‘the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can only be achieved if the territorial dimension of the strategy is taken into account, as the development opportunities of the different regions vary’.

The same document (TA2020), highlights the need to deepen the territorial dimension of EU Cohesion Policy by ‘strengthening mechanisms which can ensure the territorial coordination of its interventions; improving the territorial dimension of all steps of strategic programming, evaluation and monitoring activities; ensuring scope for integrated place-based programmes and projects, and integrating different funds in regional strategies’. Achieving this, however, remains a major challenge. This workshop aims to further discuss this question and shed new light on three of the main aspects associated with the Territorial Dimension of the EU Cohesion Policy, for the next programming cycle (2014-2020).


We invite all those interested to submit abstracts for research papers which should include a description of the conceptual framework, research questions, methods, and a statement on the main findings and contribution to knowledge related with the topics of the Workshop.
  • Abstracts of up to 1000 words should be submitted to: jornadasmopt@campus.ul.pt.
  • Abstract should include: Title, names of all the authors, affiliation and full contact details
  • Open: September 7, 2015
  • Close: September 25, 2015
  • Acceptance notification: October 1, 2015
  • Final programme: October 5, 2015
  • For any question on the submission, please contact eduarda.costa@campus.ul.pt or emedeiros@campus.ul.pt

The workshop will focus on the following topics:

1.  Assessing territorial impacts at the various spatial levels
 How to effectively implement TIA (Territorial Impact Assessment) procedures in the EU Member States, in order to achieve the goal of the present EU Cohesion Cycle in putting more emphasis in assessing the results of the implemented projects/programmes? What can be the role of ESPON in perfecting and unifying the existing TIA methods and techniques? What is the importance of the urban dimension in the evaluation of the EU Cohesion Policy, considering that urban areas absorb the lions-part of the EU structural funds?

2. Implementing the Territorial Agenda and the European Spatial Development Perspective
How can the EU Cohesion Policy be an effective vehicle in implementing the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) and the Territorial Agenda priorities of promoting a more polycentric and balanced territorial development? Are the Territorial Agenda’s main goals being included within the territorial development strategies of the EU Member States? What are the different storylines and experiences in implementing place-based strategies in Europe?

3. Achieving territorial cohesion in the EU
The Lisbon treaty goal of promoting ‘economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States’ is still a far cry from the reality. How can the EU Cohesion Policy be more effective in contributing to the achievement of this ultimate goal of territorial development? What can be the role of Territorial Cooperation in this endeavour? How to make the most out of EU Cohesion Policy interventions in less developed regions, particularly in times of financial and economic crisis?


The Regional Studies Association (RSA) Research Network on EU Cohesion Policy aims at providing a forum for debating EU cohesion policy, its effectiveness, impacts, paradoxes, and its future. Through the organisation of six highly successful international workshops and of several special sessions at the recent RSA conferences, since 2011, the Network has succeeded in bringing together academics investigating EU cohesion policy as well as practitioners working with this policy at the EU, national and regional levels. The workshops addressed the key issues structuring the debate on the assessment of the effectiveness and impacts of EU cohesion policy as well as its reform in the run-up to the 2014-2020 period. The Network creates opportunities for inspiring exchanges of ideas, has helped to foster new research collaborations and has led to joint publications.

Network partners:

  • Eduarda Costa and Eduardo Medeiros, IGOT, University of Lisbon: eduarda.costa@campus.ul.pt / emedeiros@campus.ul.pt;
  • Ida Musiałkowska – Poznań University of Economics:  i.musialkowska@ue.poznan.pl;
  • Laura Polverari and John Bachtler, EPRC, University of Strathclyde: laura.polverari@strath.ac.uk;; john.bachtler@strath.ac.uk;
  • Magdalena Sapała (IES) and Nicola Francesco Dotti (COSMOPOLIS), Vrije Universiteit Brussel: magdalena.sapala@vub.ac.be / nicola.dotti@vub.ac.be;
  • Marcin Dąbrowski, Department of Urbanism, TU Delft: m.m.dabrowski@tudelft.nl;
  • Oto Potluka, Unviersity of Economics Prague: potluka@vse.cz.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Andreas Faludi

Em.Prof. of Spatial Policy Systems in Europe, Delft University of Technology, NL.Studied architecture and planning at the Vienna University of Technology and did his PhD there as well. His academic career started at what is now Oxford Brooks University, followed by chairs at Delft University of Technology, the University of Amsterdam and at Radboud University Nijmegen, and since 2005 back at Delft where he is now emeritus professor. He also holds occasional teaching assignments at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden where he was awarded an honorary doctorate. He specialized at planning theory and methodology. He was a British Council Scholar, an Australian-European Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Social Science and the Humanities, a European Fulbright Scholar and a Fellow of the Bellagio Rockefeller Center and has been visiting professor at several Universities. He has a large number of reference publications in European and world context. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Association of European Schools of Planning.

Prof. Kai Böhme

Dr Kai Böhme is director of Spatial Foresight GmbH. He specialises in European regional and territorial research and policies, international comparative studies in the fields of regional development policies, spatial planning, and in the territorial impacts of sector policies. He has a truly European background and considerable experience in policy advice at the European and national level as well as in the management of international applied research and consultancy projects.

Prof. Jacek Zaucha

Professor of Economic of University of Gdańsk, research fellow of the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk, founder of the Development Institute, former Deputy Secretary of the intergovernmental co-operation „Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea VASAB 2010”, former Chairman of the VASAB working group on ICZM and Maritime Spatial Planning, former member of the Senior official group of the Baltic Agenda 21, member of the team of the Scientific Advisers to the Polish Ministry of the Regional Development responsible for preparation of the first draft of the National Spatial Development Concept, member of the drafting team for updating EU Territorial Agenda, author of two pilot maritime spatial plans in Poland, author of more than one hundred scientific publications.

Prof. Maria Prezioso

Maria Prezioso is Full professor of Economic Geography and Economics and Territory at Faculty of Economics University of Rome Tor Vergata. From 2000, she is European partner and Lead of several European project (ESPON, Urbact, ENPI CiBMed, Cadzis, UERA, etc.) by a network of academic research bodies as expert in sustainability and cohesive spatial planning, territorial competiveness, regional and municipality development by patented TIA and SEA processes (STeMA) and GIS. She is author and editor of more than 250 national and international publications and handbooks and board of US Social Sciences journal. She was Rector Responsibility person for Integrated Strategic Assessment; is member of the Italian Association of Geographers, expert member of the Italian National Council of Public Works and scientific expert and National Contact Point for the ESPON Programme 2013 and 2020 under the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports. Actually she is teaching to bachelor degree and master degree courses, and PhD School in Political Geography and PhD School in Management and Local Development; is Director of Academic Spin-off ‘STeMA project and of II Level Master MEPE (European Economics and planning for sustainable territorial development) and STeMA-GIS Laboratory.

Wolfgang Petzold

Wolfgang Petzold is head of unit in the communication department of the European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives in Brussels since 2008. Before, he worked for ten years for the European Commission’s Regional Policy and Employment and Social Affairs Directorate-Generals. Being a sociologist, Wolfgang graduated from the University of Bremen in 1983 and began his career in the field of adults’ education and continued with EU programme management in a regional ministry for economic and European affairs. He published several books and articles on EU cohesion policy and lectures at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen since 1999. He is member of the German branch of the EU Studies Association (AEI), the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and its research committee, as well as of the editorial board of the journal European Structural and Investment Funds (EStIF).


5 November 2015

14:00 Registration and coffee
14.30 Welcome Introduction

  • Eduardo Medeiros (CEG) / Eduarda Costa (CEG)
  • Mário Vale (Director of CEG-UL)
  • (Vice-Dean of UL)

15:00 Exploring the Territorial Dimension of EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020:

  • Keynote Speaker - Andreas Faludi, Delft Univ. (The territorial dimension of the EU Cohesion Policy)
  • Wolfgang Petzold, Committee of the Regions  (The role of the Regions in the EU Cohesion Policy)
  • Chair - João Ferrão (ICS) – To be confirmed 

16:15 Coffee Break

16.45 Books Presentation:

  • Andreas Faludi (Delft Univ.) and Daniel Rauhut (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, NIBR) – presentation of the book Services of general interest: European perspectives and national insights, eds. Heinz Fassmann, Daniel Rauhut, Eduarda Marques da Costa, Alois Humer
  • Luís Moreno (CEG – Lisbon Univ.) – presentation of the book Territorial Impact Assessment, ed. Eduardo Medeiros

17.30 Closing session

6 November 2015

 09:00 Session I - Implementing the Territorial Agenda and the ESDP:

  • Key Note Speaker  Jacek Zaucha (University of Gdansk)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - (Agency for Development and Cohesion)

11:00 Coffee Break  

11.30 Session II - Assessing territorial impacts at the various spatial levels:

  • Key Note Speaker: Kai Böhme (Spatial Foresight GmbH)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - Eduardo Medeiros (CEG-IGOT – Lisbon University)

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Session III - Achieving territorial cohesion in the EU:

  • Key Note Speaker: Maria Prezioso (University of Rome – Tor Vergata)
  • Speaker 1
  • Speaker 2
  • Chair - Eduarda Costa (CEG-IGOT – Lisbon University)

16:30 Closing Session

  • Eduardo Medeiros (CEG) / Eduarda Costa (CEG)
  • General Direction of Territory
  • Maria Lucinda Fonseca (IGOT Director)

 17.00 End of session

The Venue

  • Conference room of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning. (IGOT) - University of Lisbon Campus.
  • Avenida Professor Anibal Bettencourt
  • Metro station: Cidade Universitária or Entrecampos

The institution

The Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT) – University of Lisbon was created in 2009 and aims at promoting geography and planning higher education, advanced training and research. The Centre of Geographical Studies (CEG) is the research unit of IGOT. The Centre of Geographical Studies (CEG) is the research unit of IGOT. Established in 1943, CEG is the main Portuguese institution conducting research in the field of Geography. The research environment at CEG –IGOT benefits from belonging to the Universidade de Lisboa, which is the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in Portugal.

CEG is organised in three Thematic Lines, which coordinate the activities of 7 Research Groups. Currently, around 200 researchers, of which 78 PhD graduates, work at CEG. CEG work is global in scope and addresses cutting-edge subjects of contemporary Human and Physical Geography and Planning inquiries, aiming at contributing to theoretical, methodological and empirical knowledge on the field. CEG owns and publishes continuously since 1965 the prestigious journal Finisterra. CEG is involved in several collaborative research partnerships and networking activities, both at international and national scales. It also has a high quality of research environment and facilities, such as a specialized library and a vast Map Collection. Local Organizers: Eduardo Medeiros and Eduarda Costa.