The Department of Planning and Regional Development of the University of Thessaly was established in 1989 and for 15 years it had been the only Department in Greece that offered a University degree in Spatial Planning and Development. All graduates of the Department are engineers who may register in the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE). The Department offers a five year undergraduate program as well as several postgraduate programs which may either be completed in three semesters full-time or five semesters part-time. Four out of the six postgraduate programs currently provided by the Department of Planning and Regional Development are organized in collaboration with other Departments of the University of Thessaly. Lastly the Department is particularly active in the field of research as can be seen from the variety of fields of doctoral studies it offers.
The object of Urban and Regional Planning and Development relates to the design, regulation and programming of space in view of the need for its balanced and sustainable development. In order to attain a deep understanding of the relation between society and the environment, the program of studies comprises a wide variety of fields that are approached as having a distinct spatial dimension ranging from the scale of a neighborhood to that of one or even more than one countries. Thus the Department approaches the political, environmental, economic, cultural and social facets of a geographical entity, as well as the physical aspects involved like air quality, water supply and infrastructure including buildings, roads and facilities. Courses focus on a wide range of issues mostly dealing with the structure and imagery of space in view of environmental, social and developmental needs and processes.
The Department’s curriculum has been designed so as to induce the deeper understanding of the analysis, design and decision-making on the problems of spatial issues from the perspective of an engineer. For this reason it provides the strong engineering background required. Students are trained in Urban Planning, Economics, Development, Environment, Management, Problem Analysis and Problem Solving using specialized tools and techniques. Furthermore, the Department has the ability to create the necessary mix of social and positive disciplines through modern teaching methods.
The teaching staff of the Department specializes in a variety of fields including Urban and Regional Planning, Economics and Regional Science, Architecture, Geography, Mathematics, Computer Science, Image Editing Engineering, Remote Sensing and Social Sciences. Many members of the Department have served, and some of them currently serve in top public administration positions and have received distinction for their research, publications and contributions to their scientific disciplines.
The Department of Planning and Regional Development maintains close relations with the local authorities not only of the Region of Thessaly but also of other regions in Greece and abroad. Similar relationships have also been established with various other local actors (development, research, etc.). Collaborations between the institutions and the Department are an important factor in the positive integration of the University into the local community and, at the same time, offer important employment opportunities for the students of the Department. The European and international dimension of the Department is also reinforced by the relatively large number of invited speakers within the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. The Department has also implemented and is currently implementing a series of research programs of European or international concern funded by the EU or other external bodies.