The Production of the EU - Cohesion through Urban Renovation


Dr. Julia Gamberini 
3 LP/2 SWS


The seminar series gives a basic understanding of transitions to sustainability through the analysis of models, theories and case studies. The seminars are designed for students who present an interest for transition processes, sustainability management and /or sustainability issues in general at the urban/ territorial level, or for those who would like to start a research project on that subject. The objective of the seminars is also to help students to formulate their own research questions and to sharpen their critical thinking on sustainability.


Over the last thirty years, transitions to sustainability have become an international emerging field of research covering different topics, such as energy production and climate protection but also agriculture, mobility, consumption, etc. in order to identify if a transition genuinely takes place. At the same time, it becomes clear that “transitions” are processes that can also be “managed”: talking about tackling CO2 emissions is nothing more than trying to steer or accelerate a transition towards a low carbon society. Entering transition processes appears to be the most adapted response to deal with global risks and uncertainty, and more generally to achieve sustainability goals of intergenerational and international solidarity.

With more than 50% of the world population and 70% of the European population, cities have become a specific point of attention regarding sustainability. For several reasons, cities and regions are considered as an appropriate territorial scale to tackle and overcome the multitude of problems raised by metropolisation. What do transitions to sustainability mean for the disciplines that are directly linked with space transformation (urbanism, architecture and landscape planning)?

This seminar series proposes to explore and question more thoroughly the idea of transition as  complex societal and political processes at the city or regional scale. It aims to explore the roles of cities -and per extension regions- in managing transitions on different topics related to the overall challenge of sustainability. In this module, we will raise and discuss some of the following questions:

What are transitions? Why do we talk about transitions? What values, ethics and ideas do they carry? Why are transitions so important for cities and territories and why do they have to enter such processes? What are the concrete roles of cities in these processes? What kind of changes can transition processes bring to cities? Who formulates a transition and who are the carriers of transition (politicians, administration, civil society)? What contradictions can emerge of transition processes and who are the “winners” and the “losers” of transition processes?


The seminar series is divided into two main parts. The first part gives an analytical framework about sustainability transitions. We will discuss the pertinence of concepts and existing theories about contemporary transitions but also in history.

The second part will concentrate more on specific examples that are related to the idea and the concretisation of transitions.

The seminar methods are mainly based on: 

- Discussion on articles and case studies;

- Presentations from guests and the person in charge of the seminars;

- Workshops and exercises.

Because of the amount of readings (2-3 articles per week), make sure you can dedicate enough time for the preparation.

Examination requirement


Certificate. The conditions to get the certificate are: course attendance, take actively part in discussions and write an essay (max. 10 pages + bibliography).