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About Master SPRING


The School of Spatial Plan­ning at the Uni­ver­sity of Dort­mund together with the Department of Plan­ning at the Kwame Nkrumah Uni­ver­sity of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana launched the SPRING programme in 1984. When the Asian In­sti­tute of Technology joined in 1989, SPRING expanded into a multilateral network. AIT was replaced in 1995 by the School of Urban and Re­gio­nal Plan­ning at the Uni­ver­sity of the Philippines. With the Uni­ver­sity College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) in Tanzania another African partner joined the network in 2002, extending the focus of the curriculum to urban plan­ning and management. UCALS meanwhile became an independent tertiary institution, the Ardhi Uni­ver­sity. In 2006, the SPRING network expanded to South America. The Universidad Austral de Chile complemented the programme with a new focus on environmental eco­nom­ics in plan­ning. Since 2020, the Universidade Federal do ABC in Brazil enriches the network with its special study focus on plan­ning, governance and public policy for sus­tain­able urban agglomeration.

Firstly accredited in 2007, the SPRING programme undergoes in regular intervals (2012, 2019) evaluations conducted by certified accreditation agencies.

Due to its outstanding performance the SPRING programmed received in 2006 an award as one of the top 10 in­ter­na­tio­nal Master degree programmed offered by German universities.


The SPRING programme com­bines teaching in development theories and strategies, plan­ning concepts and methods, and implementation and monitoring tools with practice-orientated field studies aimed at elaborating regional development plans and programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The programme content is oriented by the specific socio-economic problems in the developing world.

SPRING places its emphasis on development management at an intermediate level (e.g. district) between macro-regional and community-based plan­ning. Development plan­ning is seen as a problem-oriented management tool with the following objective:

  • to identify development problems, trends, resources, constraints and potentials
  • to formulate development objectives, policies and strategies
  • to de­sign plans and programmes
  • to assess environmental impacts of plans and programmes
  • to organise target group participation and decision-making processes
  • to apply instruments for programme implementation and management and
  • to evaluate and monitor plans and programmes


A SPRING planner should be able: to collect, process, analyse, interpret and compile social and economic data; to understand and critically reflect concepts and theories underlying spatial development and plan­ning; to proj­ect key social and economic indicators into the fu­ture; to translate target group requirements into land use plans, projects and programmes; to understand at least the basics of all major sectors of regional development; to have a good command of plan­ning, group facilitation and conflict resolution techniques; to critically appraise processes of spatial development at all levels against the backdrop of globalisation and accelerated urbanisation; to de­sign and conduct plan­ning-oriented empirical re­search; to write clear reports, manuals and memos.

Therefore, the SPRING programme provides students with the following set of competences:

  • a broad inter-sectoral knowledge and skills across three major regional development plan­ning fields: natural resource plan­ning, physical infra­structure plan­ning and socio-economic development plan­ning.
  • the capability to de­sign regional development activities in a pragmatic, problem and action oriented manner
  • the competency in applying the three major action phases of the plan­ning cycle: analysis, plan­ning and implementation
  • the ability to reconcile participatory plan­ning from below with the requirements of plan­ning from above and the frame­work set by national policies
  • the capability to combine various personal characteristics such as logical thinking, flexibility, creativity, organisational and communicative skills


The SPRING programme prepares regional development planners and managers for employment in the public sector at central, regional or local govern­ment levels, private sector, NGOs and in­ter­na­tio­nal organisations. About 750 graduates from over 70 coun­tries have completed the programme so far. They hold now leading positions in such diverse fields as teaching and re­search, regional development and urban plan­ning as well as in national ministries and in the development sector.