Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • 11 to 30 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • English, Shqip

Resource Description

Instruction file


Sim (One out) -Simulating decision-making processes for urban planning and design.(Resource ID: 273)

This method is established in the framework of the Planning Systems course, as a simulation of the decision-making process for an urban intervention. Nevertheless, it can be used in other fields and courses, as a special “role-playing” game. The main idea of this method is to observe how the change of only one variable/actor influences the outcome of the process. The game-structure is as follows: Participants are given roles according to a random selection, and are given time to understand the role and to study the way that stakeholders behave in situations related to the field study. One of the roles should be diverse. This means that the characteristic of this particular stakeholder is recognizably different in different cultures and contexts. For example, the role of an urban planner means different things: urban designer, social planner, strategic planner, etc. The person who plays this role is exchanged throughout the game, by players who portray these different types of planners. The end result of this game are some development/decision-making scenarios, which will be voted upon (whether by community representatives or by school members), thus understanding the real impact of stakeholders and the different types of “the main stakeholder”. This methodology encourages a good understanding of the main concepts of planning (or other fields of interest), as well as a practical approach to decision-making processes.

The Sim (One out) game is an interactive learning process, which simulates a decision-making process for large scale interventions, by organizing the participants into different roles. Through this method, the students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of stakeholder involvement, understand the various layers that affect decision-making, and identify different types of stakeholders of the same genre, whether through empirical or theoretical backgrounds.

This method is most applicable to courses related to urban planning, architecture, city development, etc., but there is no exclusion for other fields, like economy, environmental protection, etc. The following is a demonstration of the method in the case of an urban planning course:

Phase 1_Preparatory phase

The first step of the exercise is to identify a large site in the city, which is currently going through a major intervention, or has an ongoing project, which is known to the public. This site will be visited three times during the semester and analyzed briefly through visual surveys and informal talks with the community. These site-visits will serve as a first communication of the school-project to the community, to inform them and to ensure their presence at the final presentation

Phase 2_Assignment of roles

Next, the students and participants will be divided into different roles (chosen randomly), according to a similar list to the following. The roles will be assigned at the first day of the workshop, but presented and studied earlier, in the preparatory phase.

- 2 urban planners

- 1 local government official

- 1 environmental lobbyist

- 1 NGO-representative

- private sector representatives

- local community representatives

- civil society

- others, according to the context.


Before the simulation starts, the 2 planners are randomly assigned a category of planner. This will determine their approach to planning, and the overall process and debating in the game. It is necessary that each type of planner (or other “main stakeholder”) is well-defined.

The respective types of planners can be as follows (but not limited to):

-the urbanist

He is the professional who only deals with functional and morphological aspects of planning, in urban scale

-the comprehensive planner

He is the planning expert, who is closely affiliated to the local government, does things in bureaucratic way, according to traditional urban planning theories, without taking into account the emerging needs of the local communities and the private stakeholders

-the strategic planner

He is the kind of planner who takes into consideration the relationship of the government with the major private stakeholders and encourages large scale interventions that benefit all

-the social planner

He is the planner who focuses on the vulnerable groups and tries to assist them to gain profit from the investments and the public services in the city

-the market planner

He encourages the raise in land value according to market forces and tries to manage development only on this criteria, as the most economically efficient one

-the communicative planner

He focuses on the process of planning, and mostly in the acknowledgment that the main thing in planning is the participation of all stakeholders

-the environmental planner

He lobbies that decision-making in urban level is carried out giving special emphasis on the environmental protection and other similar issues

Phase 3_Simulation of debate

The game has various rounds of debate. The main issues to be addressed will be:

- How will the housing needs be met? What distribution, typologies, densities?

- How will the intervention be financed?

- What public services/infrastructure will be added?

- How will the local people and their property rights be addressed?

- What is the environmental approach of the intervention?

- Etc…


At each round of debate the stakeholders will present one by one their interests and intervention proposals. They will take turns to speak and a dice decides the number of proposals (1-6) each of them can give each round. This simulates the factor of lobbying power and capacity, which for each project or decision-making process depends on the number of stakeholders that are affected, or take part on the negotiation. After each round there will be a summary of the proposals given, which will be discussed and voted by the 2 planners. They will also be the main coordinators of the discussion, depending on their “role”. E.g., a market planner would mostly consider the interests of the developer, while a communicative planner would let each stakeholder express their opinion equally.

Phase 4_Voting and developing a scenario

After all the discussion sessions have concluded, the 2 planners will draft the design/strategy discussed, and the participants will vote whether they like it or not. The final word belongs to the “government”, which will either approve or disapprove the scenario. This simulates the context where, albeit the project is liked or not, the main decision remains political.

This process will be repeated 2 more times, in the next days, with all roles remaining the same, except the role of the planners, who will change approach according to the given categories.

The game will be organized as a 3 day workshop, combined with some preparatory work during the semester. In the first day, the students will be presented the game process, be divided into specific roles and carry out the first discussion session. During the afternoon all the students will visualize the intervention strategy/design or objectives that were decided upon by the votes of the government at the end of the simulation. The next day, two other simulations will take place, and their visualization will be carried out in the afternoon. The third day is reserved to presenting the outcome, along with the dynamics of the game, to an outside audience, preferably the local community in the study area. Another voting will take place, among the three scenarios. The most voted outcome represents, thus, the most successful decision-making process. This last day will help students understand what approach is more likable and what type of planner is best suited for the local context.

The main idea of this approach is to give insight on the multiple factors that can influence a decision, in different scales. 

Integration of Social Stakeholders
This workshop is perceived as an interactive process, not only among students, but also with the local community and private sector. First, the students and participants will be put in the position of the different actors and argue according to this perspective. Next, the local community and the private sector will be invited to a presentation of the final design ideas and vote on their favourite one. This will encourage the stakeholders to start thinking about their role on the urban development of the community. Also, the environmental aspects will be considered during the game, through the role of environmental planner, and the environmental NGO-s and lobby groups.

The involvement of students in the process will be active, whereas the inhabitants of the area and the local businesses will be involved passively, through the voting process in the final presentations. Other stakeholders, like governmental units, NGO-s, etc, will not have a direct involvement in the process.
– Students understand the link between planning theory and practice
– Understanding how planning culture and systems affects decision-making
– Interactive learning and designing process
– Integration of local community in the design process
– Improvement of debating and argumentative skills among students
– Facilitating communication of students with different stakeholders
– The cooperation of the local community to listen to the projects and vote on them is time-consuming for them, so the participation may vary. To ensure the participation, the event should include other activities, such as music, eating, drinking, etc.
– The process of simulation and working on design ideas varies on the roles given to different students. Because the roles are random, the performance may not always be as efficient as preferred.
– Due to the small amount of time, the design concepts may not be elaborated fully, so the process of the public presentation can be postponed accordingly
Learning Outcomes
– Understand the different roles of planners and the types of planners that exist in different planning systems
– Have an insight on the role of different stakeholders in an urban design process
Relevance for Sustainability
This workshop is relevant for sustainability because it encourages the multi-factorial decision-making process, coordinating different interests, to reach the best long-term result. it also helps students understand the complexity of the implementation of sustainability principles in political and professional level.

Moreover, the role of stakeholders that are environmentally or socially protective, and the changing role of the planner, from environmental planner, to strategic planner, social planner, etc, enhances the dynamics of the simulation and points out the challenge for sustainable decision-making. Furthermore, the students learn how to lobby for economic interest, environmental and social issues, etc.
Related Teaching Resources
– Basic planning knowledge needed (or respective to other fields in which the game ca be played) – Good communicative skills needed, to approach the local community in the right way
Preparation Efforts
Preparation Efforts Description
– Identification of the site and first site visit: 20 hours – Preparation for the public presentations: 10 hours
The workshop constitutes 30% of the evaluation for the Planning system course (or other similar courses). The components of evaluation for the workshop are:

•Understanding the given role (10%) _Evaluation by the lecturer through the observation of the simulation
• Debating skills (10%) _Evaluation by the lecturer through the observation of the simulation
• Contribution to the final outcome (5%) _ Evaluation by the students for each-other according to their contributions in visualizing the proposals
• Quality of the final outcome (5%) _ Evaluation by lecturer, the same for all students, according to the visual and conceptual quality of the results.
Credit/Certification Description
This workshop is part of the evaluation and credits of another main subject, so it doesn't get extra credits.
Sources and Links

Funded by
This teaching resource, realised within the project ConSus, has been funded with the support of the TEMPUS of the European Union. The contents reflect the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Kejt Dhrami
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
U_POLIS - POLIS University
Polis University


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Teaching Tools & Methods

  • Game
  • Simulation program
  • Simulation