Creating shared consciousness through collaborative education: the case of municipal amalgamation in Ukraine

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Since the launch of decentralization reform in Ukraine in 2014, the country has become an arena for a large-scale transformation of territorial governance and planning systems. Currently, 899 amalgamated municipalities have emerged through the voluntary merger procedure, with an overall population of 9.5 mln and total area equivalent to 38.9% of that of Ukraine. Being far more just an enlargement of territorial units, amalgamation is envisioned as a major tool for fiscal decentralization, community empowerment and re-defining the scale of social infrastructure provision. Currently, the planning process in newly created municipalities is constrained by the lack of appropriate legislation and planning tools, a severe shortage of planning professionals and low self-consciousness of municipal management in regards to objectives and potential of spatial planning. This paper discusses experimental pedagogic approaches implemented for enhancing spatial planning capacities of staff of newly formed amalgamated municipalities in the settings of post-socialist Ukrainian countryside and in the context of the ongoing decentralization reform, advocating the relevance of the blended learning formats that produce knowledge along with transformative change.
municipal amalgamation, strategic spatial planning, collaborative education, ecological university