Studia Humanistyczne AGH
Special Issue

Participatory Experiments in Urban Policy: Values, Coalitions, Tools, Impacts
Call for papers for a special issue of Studia Humanistyczne AGH. Contributions to Humanities
Siarhei Liubimau, European Humanities University, Laboratory of Critical Urbanism (Vilnius, LT)
Jacek Gądecki, AGH University of Science and Technology (Krakow, PL)

In many parts of the world, societies are facing systemic destabilization of the relations between knowledge and democracy. At the same time, societies tend to generate more demands for transparency and accountability of policies. These conditions require innovations in the way we generate knowledge about prevalent political strategies, as well as in the procedures of backing political strategies with research-grounded knowledge. Thus, participatory action research is increasingly attracting attention in view of its potential to re-set coalitions and scopes for academic knowledge, as well as to provide new approaches to sharing research results. From this perspective, participation is not only about instruments to triangulate research processes and outputs with social groups, institutions, communities and individuals. It is also about a new degree of reflexivity of research coalitions. Here lies its potential to challenge power hierarchies and to create closer ties between science, knowledge and democracy (Susskind et al. 2018).

At the same time, the economic, political, technological, and epistemic transformations of recent decades require experimentation in adjusting relations between societies, states, and space. The growing complexity of spatial justice requires integrative urban policy, whose success depends on, among other factors, sensitivity to varieties of trans-local knowledge. The urban policy context – with participation principles usually not fully fixed and highly dependent on a specific spatial configuration (and the paths of politicization it provokes) – often inevitably requires experimental measures to enable participation processes. As a result, today participatory experiments are more popular in the fields of architecture and urban planning than in the political and social sciences. Nonetheless, experimentation in the field of urbanism could lead to insights and even conceptual innovations in understanding policies and their impacts, interest groups and user groups, conflicting values regarding specific urban projects or urban development paradigms, etc.

This issue of Studia Humanistyczne AGH. Contributions to Humanities describes, summarizes, and reflects on the variety of experiments introduced in urban planning, design, and governance in line with the “participatory turn” and with the claims of greater democratic re-distribution of authority. The contributors of journal articles are invited to document the practices constituting this turn, as well as to reflect on the place-specific and systemic reasons for such a request for greater societal participation in urban policy.

Contributors are invited to address the following questions and related topics:
- What are the goals and value orientations of participatory experiments in current urban development, planning, and design practice?
- What are the possible coalitions of actors that become relevant in urban development and planning participatory experiments?
- To what extent is the “participatory turn” in urban governance and planning a democratic tendency, and to what extent is it a technocratic tendency? What would constitute “authentic” or “real” participation?
- How could a history of participatory experiments in urban governance be written?
- How is the “participatory turn” in urban development and planning related to the omnipresence of essentially participatory digital platforms?
- Which tools (both analog and digital) are used for participatory experiments in urban development, planning, and design practice?
- What are the features and risks of gamification of urban policy and urban planning?
- Temporality of experiments in urban planning and policy – what are the relevant time frames to trace the impacts of urban development and planning experiments? What should be considered a failure in an urban policy experiment?
- What is the role of academic agency in making the “participatory turn” in urban policy?

Prospective authors are invited to an offline workshop at the European Humanities University in Vilnius to present and discuss the full versions of their submissions. Organizers will cover travel and accommodation for selected workshop participants. Online participation is also possible.


March 23, 2022 – Submission of abstracts
March 25, 2022 – Invitations to offline workshop at the European Humanities University in Vilnius
May 26, 2022 – Submission of full papers by offline workshop participants
June 2-3, 2022 – Offline workshop with the authors at the European Humanities University in Vilnius (online participation is also possible)
July 18, 2022 – Deadline for submission of final articles

Submissions of abstracts are to be sent to

After acceptance of the final articles authors should submit a manuscript on the journal platform