SE – Contemporary urban theory

PhD/Advanced Masters’ seminar: Contemporary urban research on urban culture and public space

TISS Course No. 280.210: Link

Aim of course

The aim of this seminar is to shape a space for debate and discussion regarding the action and reflection fields of urban culture and public space in urban studies among young researchers in different stages of their research process (advanced master students as well as PhD students). Profound knowledge on the professional and reflexive use of urban culture and public space in planning and design disciplines will be provided. The overall aim is to provide an opportunity for students to learn about research design, research questions, hypothesis and methods related to research on public spaces and urban cultures. Teachers motivate and support the students to critically review and clarify their line of argumentation, their research objectives and methods.

This intensive teaching format leaves ‚open spaces’ for a discussion- and dialog-oriented way of mutual interaction in research processe. Goals: Developing the capacity for and engaging in critical assessment of similar research projects; developing a friendly and supportive group of researchers who can benefit from knowing about each other’s work during the seminars and even afterwards. As urban culture and public spaces both serve as realm of procedural and methodological learning, and as they embody radically democratic thoughts, these topics do serve for a transfer of everyday interaction into learning rooms, particularly of future planners and designers. The field of urban studies shows as well that many planners and designers involved in a critical understanding of their own practice as part of the social production of space seek and find a future labour market in the field of urban studies worldwide.

Subject of course

The seminar centres around investigations related to a complex understanding of the city as a socio-historic process with a particular emphasis on urban culture and public space. It provides space to host young researchers’ initial and advanced thoughts and findings based on their individual or group research project in the broad field of urban studies. We explicitly welcome those students that have already chosen a focus on urban culture or public spaces, however, for those participants still seeking for more inspiration on how to choose a topic and where, the seminar offers a broad introduction to different trends and tendencies in urban studies. Teachers will offer introductory readings that shall provide a basic orientation in urban studies to create a common base of knowledge among the participants of the seminar. Additional orientation on different schools and strands of thought in urban studies shall be offered, some relating to planning theory, others more focused on theories of space. Students will learn to confidently develop and expose their scientific endeavours to other colleagues, to systematically receive and to offer confidential and constructive criticism on their work in order to review, advance and put forward their planning and design-related research in the field of urban studies.

Contemporary urban theory has developed apace over the last decade to consider the complex urban processes and issues that have risen as a result of globalisation, diversification of the economy, socio-demographic shifts,  neo liberal political agendas, migration  and growing concerns around the environment amongst many other salient issues. Urban studies now concerns itself also with new theoretical agendas which focus on questions of city materialities, mobilites, economies, differences, cultures, affect and politics making it an increasingly fascinating and stimulating field of study. Further, there is a growing interest in cities of the Global South, which has led to new ways of analysing the cities of the Global North which have been more significant in urban analysis to date. The seminar will have a particular emphasis on urban culture and public space, but contributions on other subjects are eligible.

Additional Information

Depending on the number of interested PhD and advanced master students, applicants might be asked to hand in an abstract of their research project in order to select up to 12 seminar participants.

The seminar will be held within a teaching block from the 22nd to the 25th of January, 2013. Participating students are invited to join the 2-day symposium in january.