The Impact of Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence on Planning in MSc Education

12 June 2023

Educational project

The Impact of Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence on Planning in MSc Education

In this article the upcoming project: ” The Impact of Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence on Planning: New Challenges for Reforming the MSc Education in Spatial Planning.” will be discussed. 

The aim of this project

This project aims to address the impact of digitalization and artificial intelligence on spatial planning practice and research. This has implications for (re-)shaping the education in the wider context of the renewal of the master program of spatial planning at the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning.

Project description

Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are impacting the future of our planning discipline and education. New digital technologies (e.g., digital twin, AI, smart platforms and planning support systems) and new data (e.g., social media data) are increasingly used in planning practices, urban governance and sustainable development. This forms a new demand in the labor market of planning professionals, that our planning education should speak to. In the past few years, we also observed that many students have written theses on topics such as digitalization of participation, using AI in urban planning, and governance for smart mobility by incorporating the need of their internship organizations (e.g., government agencies and technical/planning companies). However, there is a disparity between this new demand and the knowledge and skills that students obtain in the existing program. The existing courses have not sufficiently addressed this new sociotechnical dynamic of spatial planning. There is a need to include this new demand in the labor market and incorporate related theories, methodologies and practices in various courses.

Therefore, in the context of the renewal of the master program in spatial planning, this project aims to address the recent impact of digitalization and AI on planning and planning education. The learning objectives, learning outcomes and assessment forms at the program level and the course level will be adjusted to achieve this aim. The main expected results includes: 1) the program will incorporate new knowledge, theories, methodologies, and practices about using new digital technologies in spatial planning at the program level and various courses; and 2) students will learn how to work with digital tools and new data as spatial planners.

Several steps to be undertaken within the project

  • Brainstorm and preparation: analysis and discussion of existing learning objectives and outcomes of the curriculum and various courses through teaching workshops and meetings – refine the current ILO’s of the program and position attention to AI and digitalization in the revised learning objectives;
  • Experimentation and pilot phase: improvement of some existing courses by incorporating digital impact. The pilot phase includes the adjustment of three courses. First, the course of Beyond Planning Theory will include new theories about digital planning. Second, the course of Urban Governance will incorporate attention to digital governance in smart mobility and other domains. Third, the course of Advanced Research Methodology in Spatial Planning will teach students how to use new data in their master theses and planning practices. Yanliu and Patrick are teaching in these three course. They have expertise on digitalization of planning and will work together with other teachers of the courses to improve these courses as pilots.
  • Sharing experience of pilots and training staff: a teacher professionalization workshop will be organized to share the experiences obtained in the pilot phase with staff in spatial planning. It will also increase the awareness of the impact of digitalization and AI on urban planning and train staff to incorporate this new knowledge and skills in other courses as well.
  • Evaluation and improvement: propose changes in curriculum to EMT/OCM, collect feedback of students, staff and EMT/OCM, and improve the curriculum;
  • Implementation: implementation at the program level and various courses.

The importance of this project

This project will enhance the teacher professionalization by adjusting education to meet the new demand of the labor market and address the new sociotechnical dynamic of AI and digitalization in planning. Yanliu and Patrick will improve their professional skills and teaching capacity about the impact of digitalization and AI on planning. Their collaboration with other teachers in the pilots and the workshop will also train staff in spatial planning to incorporate the new knowledge and skills about using new digital technologies in planning.


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