Step 4: The Urban Context

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The Urban Context module is meant to introduce the students to urban sustainability topics through interdisciplinary approaches to urban challenges. Upon the completion of this module, your students will: recognise the interdisciplinary nature of urban challenges; find, critically read & assess secondary research material sources; discuss urban sustainability challenges with peers; link theoretical insights with their own everyday experience; and apply previous theoretical and methodological knowledge to urban sustainability challenges.

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Related Resources


What is sustainability?

The OECD Principles on Urban Policy

Global Challenges Facing Cities Today

Five lessons for urban policy

7 principles for building better cities

The future of urban mobility

The Circular Economy: A Simple Explanation | Cillian Lohan

Reading Material

  • Balkmar, D. and Summerton, J. (2017). Contested mobilities: politics, strategies and visions in Swedish bicycle activism. Applied Mobilities, 2(2), 151-165.
  • Case-studies – challenges around the world
  • Cities of tomorrow: Challenges, visions, ways forward. European Union Regional Policy, October 2011
  • Devine-Wright, P., Batel, S., Aas, O., Sovacool, B., Labelle, M. and Ruud, A. (2017). A conceptual framework for understanding the social acceptance of energy infrastructure: Insights from energy storage. Energy Policy, 107, 27-31.
  • Dobernig, K., Veen, E., & Oosterveer, P. (2016). Growing Urban Food as an Emerging Social Practice. In: Practice Theory and Research: Exploring the dynamics of social life. G. Spaargaren, D. Weenink, & M. Lamers (Eds.). New York and London: Routledge. Pp. 153-178.
  • Dushenko, W. T., Dale, A., & Robinson, P. (2012). Urban sustainability: Reconnecting space and place. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Future challenges in urban planning
  • Inclusive Smart Cities: A European Manifesto on Citizen Engagement
  • Intelligent– rather than smart – cities
  • Introduction: The Challenges of an Urban World
  • James, P. (2014). Urban Sustainability in Theory and Practice: Circles of sustainability. Advances in Urban Sustainability, Routledge.
  • Lang, D.J., Wiek, A., Bergmann, M., Stauffacher, M., Martens, P., Moll, P., Swilling, M., Thomas, C.J. (2012). Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: Practice, principles, and challenges. Sustainability Science, 7, 25–43.
  • Living Labs in Amsterdam
  • Morgan, K. (2009). Feeding the City: The Challenge of Urban Food Planning. International Planning Studies, 14(4), 341-348
  • Nijkamp, P. and Kourtit, K. (2013). The “New Urban Europe”: Global Challenges and Local Responses in the Urban Century. European Planning Studies, 21(3), 291-315
  • Parra, D., Swierczynski, M., Stroe, D., Norman, S… and Patel, M. (2017). An interdisciplinary review of energy storage for communities: Challenges and perspectives. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 79, 730-749.
  • Rutherford, J. and Coutard, O. (2014). Urban Energy Transitions: Places, Processes and Politics of Socio-technical Change. Urban Studies, 51(7), 1353-1377.
  • Timo von Wirth, Lea Fuenfschilling, Niki Frantzeskaki & Lars Coenen (2019) Impacts of urban living labs on sustainability transitions: mechanisms and strategies for systemic change through experimentation, European Planning Studies, 27:2, 229-257, DOI: 1080/09654313.2018.1504895
  • Urban Challenges – click the different challenges to read more about them
  • Vandecasteele I., Baranzelli C…Zulian G., The Future of Cities – Opportunities, challenges and the way forward, EUR 29752 EN, Publications Office, Luxembourg, 2019, ISBN 978-92-76-03847-4, doi:10.2760/375209, JRC116711

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