During my architecture studies I became interested in design research and the understanding of larger spatial processes. Their was little context nor support to really explore these interests during my master in architecture, which made that I didn’t want to immediately take up a role in architecture practice following my studies. The programme and the influx of students with a varied background in the MaSRP showed me that 'urbanization and spatial Planning 'can be approached in a very varied way. For me this offered the ability to try out different approaches and to go in search of the right media to to make something complex understandable. Within the master I had the freedom to explore and frame urban problems in various ways: politically, historically, anthropologically, design driven, graphically or through a particular theoretical lense, there was room for personal exploration. Collaborating with students from different backgrounds greatly influenced my research. I am happy that I completed my architecture studies before I began my master's degree. The combination of creative research and a critical approach is of major importance in my present jobs at Labo S, Size Designers, and SumResearch. I currently feel at home in the field of urban planning and research as it bridges my interest both in academic reflection as well as concrete practice.
During my Law Studies I learned about the rules of society. In the Master of Spatial and Urban Planning I learned about society itself. After all, no society (co-operation or conflict) functions without a shared space. Thanks to the MaSRP training I had the chance to put my knowledge about law into context. That proved to be liberating. The MaSRP asks students to leave the narrow world of disciplinary silos and adopt a broad view. That is also due to the diversity of different backgrounds of the students and the interdisciplinary teamwork. This diversity makes it possible to recognize spatial configurations as temporary crystallization of historical, social, political and economic processes and next, formulate a layered response to the potential mismatch between the current use of space and new processes, such as urbanization, ageing, privatization of public space, etc. the MaSRP is a programme that takes the UGent slogan "dare to think, dare to act” seriously. In addition to the critical reflection on the role of spatial planners, new solutions are always elaborated in close co-operating with actors in practice (such as ceo’s, civic organizations, businesses, residents groups, etc.). Through the many group assignments, research trips and fascinating discussions many of my fellow students became my friends. Through intensive guidance I also built a good bond with some teachers. Even though we see each other less now through our jobs; in my case a doctoral position on land policy at the Universities at Leuven and Antwerp.
After my master's degree in interior design, I worked for three years in this sector. Although I was generally satisfied I was missing an analytical basis to my work. I became increasiingly frustrated with the lack of grouding of a lot of the work I was involved in. The jobs I performed as interior architect were especially focused on the commercial side of the job. I started to ask many questions about our way of life and consumption patterns, about the way we deal with the scarcity of space and commodities etc., and my sense of indignation was getting bigger and bigger. One day, I decided to quit my job and to join MaSRP, since I already had experience in design and an interest in spatial questions. It turned out to be the right choice. The emphasis of this training is not excessively on design, but especially on analysis and research; a perfect addition to what I missed in my previous education. In the beginning this was not so evident because of my limited analytical and scientific background. But in the end I experienced MaSRP as a an interesting confluence of people with different backgrounds, thus enhancing the dynamics between a variety of students, which I can best describe as a cross pollination of knowledge and experiences from which I learned a lot. I also liked the social and ecological emphasis of urban and spatial planning. My two years supported my search for sustainable solutions for traffic, housing and economics. The MaSRP years have grounded these concerns within a deeper understanding of sustainable mobility, citizenship and self-organization within spatial planning. With these subjects in mind I will soon be looking for a new job.
I started studying urban and spatial planning with an open mind. I had already a master in history, but I wanted to apply this knowledge also to future spatial issues. Within MaSRP I got this opportunity. I was able to apply my historical expertise and knowledge in the search for future oriented project-related solutions. In addition, I was challenged to directly test new knowledge in practice. Especially the combination of "thinking about," and "applying to" appeared to be a good preparation for a job within the broad field of urban planning. In my current job as a city council consultant at the municipality of Ghent I have to be ready to have vision on the development of the city and to also be able to steer this vision towards implementation and real policies. As a planner civil servant you are concretely shaping the city of tomorrow.
After my bachelor's degree in Geography, I chose to pursue a master's degree in urban and spatial planning at the university of Gent. It turned out to be a study programme with a nice interaction between theory and practice, with room for critical analysis and creativity. Thanks to the studios and workshops with concrete cases in Flanders and beyond, you have the feeling that you really learn a job that will help you to get started effectively after leaving UGent. Moreover the MaSRP brings students with several backgrounds together, and this is definitely an added value. You learn how to work together in a team and at the same time you gain additional insight into your own strenghts and weaknesses. In addition to a solid core curriculum, there are so many different areas of expertise to focus on, that everyone is able to develop and graduate with a personal profile (analysis of place and context, vision formation and design, legal aspects, participation, cartoons and GIS, etc.), something which really helpsto find your place in practice. After following the MaSRP in Ghent I had no problems in finding a job, first at Group Omgeving and at the moment at Atelier Romain in Ghent. I work as a spatial researcher and am involved in a varied portfolio of plans and projects, including the elaboration of a vision for the province of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant, research into the reuse possibilities of empty and under occupied buildings in Flanders, the establishment of a sustainability barometer, or new ideas about the 'strategic agricultural areas' for Flanders. I am much indebted to my education at the UGent and if I would need to do my education all over I would again join the MaSRP in Ghent.
Eva Van Eenoo
I worked already for a number of years as a policy officer at the Cycling Federation of Flanders when I decided to register for the MaSRP in Ghent. Even though my background is completely different - I graduated in History in 2003 - it proved to be an excellent choice! I was already fascinated by the interplay between mobility and spatial planning, but this study taught me to reflect more critically and to expand my understanding and explore critical links with issues such as housing and economic development. The group work with students from very diverse backgrounds proved to be very challenging but also very enriching. What appeals to me most in this training is the very solid theoretical basis, which you then put into practice in the Studios and the Advanced Topics. After the MaSRP I have restarted my former position as a policy officer at the Cycling Federation of Flanders. But I am sure that I will do this job now with a broader outlook and a greater sense of purpose. What the future will bring, I do not know; but it is clear that urbanization and spatial planning will continue to play a central role in my future life.