Be it the countryside, a town, or a metropolis - communication about our society often centres around spatial issues. In public discourse, key issues of the present day and the future (population growth, competition, climate change etc.) concern specific localities, and societal risks, challenges and potentials are defined within spatial contexts. Cities, villages, and other political and administrative units find themselves positioned within spatially structured ratings and rankings and compared and correlated with similar places elsewhere. Against this background, they strive to shape their global competitive position strategically by defining and enhancing their particular strengths and putting across a positive image. Southern Westphalia, the youngest region in Germany, is currently attracting heightened public attention as the selected region for a structural development programme known as "Regionale 2013". Taking this region as an example, the contributions to this volume explore whether challenges and science-based solutions can be observed here that are also typical in other regions in Germany and beyond. Should this be the case, then science should be able to give sustained support to collective learning processes by drawing attention to the commonalities and particularities of different regions.