Developing countries research (or more general, regional development research) is the main research and teaching focus of the Institute of Regional Science and the Master’s degree course in Regional Science/Spatial Planning. In a transdisciplinary and international approach involving experienced research teams in the target regions the special challenges of so-called underdevelopment that play a crucial role notably in the countries of the tropics and subtropics are analyzed. Based on the regional analysis, adapted concepts are developed to solve regional development problems and conflicts. In this context, nation states as reference areas are currently losing importance: On the one hand due to the various processes of globalization, on the other hand due to the increasing regional fragmentation leading to growing disparities within the countries, where underdeveloped an highly developed regions often coexist on diverging development paths.
Beyond this background, regional development paths, structures and processes can only be understood if the environmental conditions, economic factors and social situation of the target region are included in the analysis and development of concepts. As a result of increasing fragmentation, general theories become less important.
The research concept of the IfR and the Master’s degree course in Regional Science/Spatial Planning takes these framework conditions into account: the development of a solution approach is always preceeded by a comprehensive regional analysis accounting for the importance of a transdisciplinary approach considering the specific local conditions.
Typical topics of development research include.
- Analysis of regional development paths,
- Land use and resource conflicts,
- Food insecurity and its roots,
- Impacts of extreme natural events on regional socities hit by disastrous effects,
- Vulnerability of regional societies to disasters and disaster-influencing factors,
- Impacts of climate change on regional systems,
- Effects of external interventions, for instance in the framework of development cooperation,
- Development of adaptive concepts of spatial use oriented towards the actual socio-economic conditions
Problems similar to those of underdevelopment can be found in regions which are going through social transformation or are experiencing the after-effects of it, especially if the transformation took place from a system of planned economy to different systems of market economy. the master’s degree course therefore also focuses on analyzing these special structures and processes.