Research Profile

Karen Ray

Biography

BA MPlan PhD MIPI MILI

Dr Karen Ray is a qualified planner and landscape/environmental specialist. She is a core member of the teaching team in the Centre for Planning Education and Research (CPER) and its flagship Masters in Planning and Sustainable Development (MPlan). Following on from a B.A. in English and Geography, she became a graduate of the foundation MPlan class in 2008 and has since worked in both academic and professional practice. After completing the first doctoral degree in Planning and Sustainable Development at UCC, she worked as a planning and landscape/environmental consultant in the multi-disciplinary built environment firm Brady Shipman Martin, coordinating assessments for large-scale projects for public and private sectors.

Throughout the years, Karen has been involved in a wide range of projects throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, from strategic contexts to detailed design, including: renewable/bio energy; flood defence; industry; wildlife/nature appraisal; cultural/built heritage appraisal; and tourism. Before leaving the private sector at the end of 2017 she was project coordinator on the consultancy side for national guidance documents on landscape character and visual assessment for linear infrastructure, commissioned by Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Since 2011, and continuing while in professional practice, Karen has contributed to teaching and research in the CPER and was involved in the development of a new MA in Landscape, Built Heritage and Design*. She has also contributed to undergraduate teaching/study visits within Department of Geography and teaches introductory planning modules for the Departments of Sociology and Criminology, and Applied Social Studies. Her teaching and research interests broadly relate to planning education; planning for landscape and the environment; landscape/place values; natural resources (incl. renewable energy); planning in coastal environments; conflict and power relations; communication and observation skills.

Karen holds corporate membership of both the Irish Planning Institute and the Irish Landscape Institute.

Karen's is also very active within the arts in Ireland and within the wider UCC community through The UCC Players staff drama group, directing, producing, writing, and performing within successful productions on campus and around Cork. In recent years Karen has been a key driver in bringing highly-regarded and sell-out plays to UCC, including Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile  (2019) and Willy Russel's Educating Rita (2022) which brought together staff, alumni, students, and members of the wider community in Cork and beyond for immersive live theatre in the beautiful Aula Maxima. The theme of continuing education was central to Educating Rita, with the production shining a spotlight on opportunities for continuing education in UCC through UCC Access and ACE, as well as the work of Cork Learning Neighbourhoods. 

*Not running at present. 



Research Interests

Research interests mainly relate to planning education, planning and management of wider landscape, landscape and visual assessment, environmental management and assessment; local place values; natural resource management (incl. renewable energy); natural heritage management, planning in coastal environments; conflict and power relations in the planning arena. 

Karen completed the first doctoral thesis in planning at UCC, entitled: Landscape and Planning: Strengthening Discussions in the Decision-Making Process. It explored how landscape/landscape issues are manifest in real-world day-to-day planning processes at different scales, from routine applications/appeals and major cases, to Landscape Character Assessments & Strategic Environmental Assessments as part of development plans. It outlined new approaches for improving decision-making in practice, as well as for teaching within university settings and CPD training of planning professionals in both public and private sectors. 

Karen has an active relationship with AESOP, the Association of European Schools of Planning, promoting excellence in planning education and research. Karen has also recently contributed to the journal under the theme of changing contexts for planning education (2022) and received an AESOP award for teaching excellence in 2020.





Publications

Book Chapters

 YearPublication
(2021)'Planning for Ireland’s Islands: A Matter of Perspective'
Ray, K. & O' Sullivan, B. (2021) 'Planning for Ireland’s Islands: A Matter of Perspective' In: Robert Devoy, Val Cummins, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett & Sarah Kandrot (eds). Shorelines: A Coastal Atlas of Ireland. Cork: Cork University Press. [Details]
(2011)'The metropolitan cork green belt: Synergies and tensions between strategic and local understandings of landscape value'
O’Sullivan B.;Ray K. (2011) 'The metropolitan cork green belt: Synergies and tensions between strategic and local understandings of landscape value' In: Irish Contemporary Landscapes in Literature and the Arts. London: Palgrave Macmillan.   [DOI] [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

 YearPublication
(2021)'Changing Contexts for Planning Education'
Ray, Karen (2021) 'Changing Contexts for Planning Education'. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 5 (2):95-112   [DOI] [Details]
(2021)'Mapping Community Perceptions in Ports through Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS): A Case Study in Cork Harbour, Ireland'
Levi, S.F., Ray, K., and Holloway, P. (2021) 'Mapping Community Perceptions in Ports through Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS): A Case Study in Cork Harbour, Ireland'. Irish Geography, [Details]
(2014)'Scale, Governance, Urban Form and Landscape: Exploring the Scope for an Integrated Approach to Metropolitan Spatial Planning'
O'Sullivan B.;Brady W.;Ray K.;Sikora E.;Murphy E. (2014) 'Scale, Governance, Urban Form and Landscape: Exploring the Scope for an Integrated Approach to Metropolitan Spatial Planning'. Planning Practice & Research, 29 (3):302-316 [DOI] [Details]

Conference Publications

 YearPublication
(2016)Landscape Values: Place and Praxis
Ray, K. (2016) Landscape and Planning: Exploring the Relationship in the Decision-Making Process Landscape Values: Place and Praxis   [Details]
(2013)Landscape & Imagination
Ray, K. (2013) Where a European Convention meets a European Directive: challenges for landscape management and practice . In: (Also one of three language editors) eds. Landscape & Imagination   [Details]
(2012)UK and Ireland Planning Conference
O' Sullivan, B. & Ray, K. (2012) Implementing a National Landscape Strategy: challenges for the statutory planning system’ UK and Ireland Planning Conference [Details]

Published Reports

 YearPublication
(2019)Rathcormac and Surroundings: A Strategy for Development.
Brady, W., Fitzsimons J., O’Sullivan, B. & Ray, K. (2019) Rathcormac and Surroundings: A Strategy for Development. Centre for Planning Education and Research, UCC, Cork. [Details]
(2014)The Rothschild Reserves in Ireland, 1914-2014: An Investigation into the Natural Heritage of the Republic of Ireland.
Ray, K., Sikora, E. and Counsell, D (2014) The Rothschild Reserves in Ireland, 1914-2014: An Investigation into the Natural Heritage of the Republic of Ireland. The Widllife Trusts, Newark, UK.   [Details]

Blog

 YearPublication
(2013)Off the Beaten Track: Explorations of 'Ordinary' Landscapes (Guest Essay for blog by Herda, G. 'The Conscious Commute').
Ray, K. (2013) Off the Beaten Track: Explorations of 'Ordinary' Landscapes (Guest Essay for blog by Herda, G. 'The Conscious Commute'). Blog   [Details]

Professional Activities

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2020AESOP Prize for Excellence in Teaching - Second Place/Highly Commended Association of European Schools of Planning

Conference Contributions

 YearPublication
(2019)Irish Planning Institute Conference: Tackling Environmental Impact Assessment Reports and Appropriate Assessment,
Ray, K. (2019) Engaging with Environmental Impact Assessment: Critical Reflections for Decision-Makers. [Invited Oral Presentation], Irish Planning Institute Conference: Tackling Environmental Impact Assessment Reports and Appropriate Assessment, University College Cork . [Details]
(2019)Law & the Environment 2019: 17th Annual Conference,
Ray, K. (2019) The Role of Environmental Law in the Transition to Sustainability. [Chair Sessions at Symposia], Law & the Environment 2019: 17th Annual Conference, UCC . [Details]
(2017)Conference of Irish Geographers: Disruptions and Transgressions,
Ray, K. (2017) Beyond Beauty: Landscape Appraisal and Planning in Rural Environments. [Invited Oral Presentation], Conference of Irish Geographers: Disruptions and Transgressions, University College Cork . [Details]
(2016)National Landscape Forum: Making Good Decisions about Landscape,
Ray, K. (2016) Case Study: The Den Brook Wind Farm, Devon. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], National Landscape Forum: Making Good Decisions about Landscape, Landscape Alliance Ireland/ University College Cork . [Details]
(2016)Landscape Values: Place and Praxis,
Ray, K. (2016) Landscape and Planning: Exploring the Relationship in Decision-Making. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], Landscape Values: Place and Praxis, NUIG . [Details]
(2016)National Landscape Forum: Making Good Decisions about Landscape,
Ray, K. (2016) Conflict and Power in Contested Landscapes. [Oral Presentation], National Landscape Forum: Making Good Decisions about Landscape, Landscape Alliance Ireland/ University College Cork . [Details]
(2013)Landscape and Imagination: Towards a New Baseline for Education in a Changing World,
Ray, K. (2013) Where a European Convention Meets a European Directive: challenges for landscape management and practice. [Oral Presentation], Landscape and Imagination: Towards a New Baseline for Education in a Changing World, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette, Paris . [Details]
(2012)Think Tank Day on the National Framework for Sustainable Development,
Ray, K. (2012) Contribution to document compliled in response to National Framework for Sustainable Development. [Invited Lectures (Workshops)], Think Tank Day on the National Framework for Sustainable Development, Cork County Council . [Details]
(2012)UK & Ireland Planning Conference: Building Communities: Transforming Neighbourhoods into Community Spaces,
Ray, K. (2012) Implementing a National Landscape Strategy: Challenges for the Statutory Planning System’. [Oral Presentation], UK & Ireland Planning Conference: Building Communities: Transforming Neighbourhoods into Community Spaces, University of Brighton . [Details]
(2011)Teaching and Learning for Graduate Studies,
Ray, K. (2011) The Visual/Verbal Balance in the Classroom Environment’. [Oral Presentation], Teaching and Learning for Graduate Studies, University College Cork . [Details]
(2010)Landscapes,
O' Sullivan, B. & Ray, K. (2010) The Metropolitan Cork Green Belt: synergies and tensions between strategic and local understandings of landscape value’. [Oral Presentation], Landscapes, Centre International des Langues, Université de Nantes . [Details]
(2009)Launch of the Cork and Kerry Placenames Survey,
Ray, K. (2009) Opening presentation. [Oral Presentation], Launch of the Cork and Kerry Placenames Survey, Kingsley Hotel, Cork . [Details]

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
Irish Planning Institute Corporate Member/
Irish Landscape Institute Corporate Member/

Education

 YearInstitutionQualificationSubject
2016University College Cork DoctoratePlanning & Sustainable Development
2008University College Cork MastersPlanning & Sustainable Development
2006University College Cork BAEnglish & Geography

Teaching Activities

Teaching Interests

MPlan Modules & Undergraduate Teaching
PD6112  Drawing, Communication & Observation (Lecturer/coordinator)
PD6120  Landscape Character, Context & Change (Lecturer/coordinator)
PD6205  Planning & Management of Natural Resources (Lecturer/coordinator)
PD6213  Research Methods & Proposals in Planning (Lecturer/coordinator)
PD6217 Expanded Research Paper (Coordinator; supervision)
PD6209 International Planning Systems & Approaches (Study week abroad - Second Year MPlan)
PD6227  Planning and Landscape in Rural Environments (Study visits, Ireland - combined with PD6120)
PD6208 Applied Discourses in Planning & Sustainable Development (Exit Interviews)
SC3007/SC5027: Introduction to Planning & Sustainable Development (Lecturer/coordinator)
SS3033: Issues in Planning & Sustainable Development (Lecturer/coordinator)
GG3027 Regional and Local Planning Issues and Policies (Guest lectures)
First Year MPlan study week to UK (not tied to specific module)

Other Programme Contributions:
Programme co-ordinator for the MA in Landscape, Built Heritage and Design*
Lecturer on PGDip in Planning and Sustainable Development (parallel modules with Y1 MPlan)

*Not running this year 

Contact details

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Department of Geography

Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork

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