Laboratory for the Analysis of Places, Landscapes and European Countryside
Laplec - Service de Géographie rurale de l'Université de Liège

Projets de recherche - Research projects

2007 - 2009 : Topozym: Dashboard aimed at decision-makers and citizens regarding the management of public places according to the principles of sustainable development


The project of action-training-research Topozym on sustainable development of public places was conducted by the Unité de Géographie Economique et Sociale of Liège University (UGES), the Institute voor Social en Economic Geography of the Catholique University of Leuven (ISEG) and the Institut d’Eco-pédagogie (IEP) between January 2007 and January 2009. Topozym wants to contribute to the evolution of concepts and practices in the management and use of public places and spaces, in the perspective of sustainable development. The research goal is to produce a dashboard for use by people who can change the behaviour of stakeholders (community territorial animators, educational sector, local developments agents...), to help them design and/or evaluate efficient and coherent participative processes for territorial governance of public places and spaces. The emphasis placed on behavioural changes is a response to today’s urgent need to define new ways of helping people become more aware of our responsibilities at the local and global level. This should eventually lead to ways of managing and using public places and spaces in a more careful manner, one that is more respectful and shows great concern for the future. The originality of the project is linked to an integrated methodology of research and training action, which implies the involvement of a certain number of actors that will de facto be potential users of the research results. The research is based on the facilitating of five projects in Belgium: the construction of a park in the urban area of Antwerp (Park Spoor Noord), the construction of a bike and pedestrian path in Charleroi (RAVeL), the reoccurring event of Village de Noël in Liège, the initialisation of a project for a swimming zone in the river Ourthe (Noiseux) and the reconstruction of a street in the city centre of Leuven (Muntstraat). These projects became the subject of a two-stage process of analysis and training: (1) an analysis of each case from the point of view of sustainability, and (2) a training programme for some stakeholders of the projects in question aiming at changing the practices of these stakeholders and focusing on one or more principles of sustainability The main research product is a user-friendly dashboard for people who can influence the behaviour of stakeholders. The dashboard should help them design and/or evaluate efficient and coherent participative steps for territorial, sustainable governance of public places and spaces. This tool is being disseminated to actors that can immediately use it in the field. It can be found (in French) on the Topozym website ( The final report is not a mere repetition of the contents of the dashboard in a different form. Whereas the dashboard is a practical tool, the final report is meant for researchers and other persons wishing to understand the methodological and theoretical background of this dashboard. Two research questions are especially scrutinized: Which principles and actions can improve the sustainability of public place management projects? How can an intervention like Topozym’s try to change the behaviour of stakeholders of public place management projects towards sustainability?


Belgian Science Policy


Prof. Dr. Serge Schmitz, Laplec (ULg)
Prof. Dr. Etienne van Hecke, Institute for Social and Economic Geography (KULeuven)
Prof. Dr. Christine Partoune, Institut d'EcoPédagogie (ULg)


  • De Graef S., Dalimier I., Ericx M., Scheers L., Martin Y., Noirhomme S., Van Hecke E., Partoune Ch., Schmitz S., 2009. Dashboard aimed at decision-makers and citizens in place management, within SD principles, Belgium Federal Science Policy, 98 p. See Orbi
  • Schmitz S, De Graef S., Ericx M., Scheers L., Noirhomme S., Dalimier I, Verheyen Ch., Philippot M., Partoune Ch.,van Hecke E., 2009. Territorial intelligence is also networking! Which strategies could be adopted to create a learning community regarding a public place? Acts of the Annual International Conference BESANÇON 2008, deliverable 16 of caENTI, project funded under FP6 research program of the European Union, 543-546. See Orbi
  • Schmitz S, De Graef S., 2008. A self-critical analysis of a running research project to improve the sustainability of public place management, Papers on Territorial Intelligence and governance, participatory action-research and territorial development, International Conference of territorial intelligence, Huelva 2007, 591-597. See Orbi



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