Visiting Professorship in Urban Studies 2021
Urban Generations. Public Space, Ageing Society and New Health Conditions

MASTER MODULE: Urban Generations. Public Space, Ageing Society and New Health Conditions

EX 280.536 Paths and tools of the production of space

[1 EX (Exercise course), 2 SWS (contact hours, one is 45min, counted for 13-15 weeks per term), 4 ECTS]

TISS Course: 280.536

**This course will be offered by Visiting Professor in Urban Studies 2021 Dr. Marie Glaser and by University Assistant Angelika Gabauer, MA**

In accordance with further pandemic developments, teaching will be either offered as presence teaching or in a distance learning format.

i. Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to use a combination of different qualitative research methods, from (walking) interviews, (participatory) observations, visits, document analysis alongside visual techniques of mapping and diagrams to explore the spatiality of ageing in the city. Starting from local urban sites, students will learn to research the social realities of urban policies, social division, exclusion and community-led initiatives and its diverse spatial configurations. They will learn how making visible, or ‘spatializing’ information can be a means to bring new insights and indeed new knowledge to urban problems. They will learn how to use forms of visualization to present and document empirical research, and they will be able to present their research process, used methods, theories and findings in form of an oral presentation, a written research report, and a visual piece (mapping, diagram).

ii. Contents/Subject of the course

This exercise course aims to explore the policies and practices of an age-friendly city through the lens of daily life experiences of different actors of a selected neighborhood in Vienna, and it wants to examine the process of translation and transformation of the city’s wider policies for age-friendliness into local practices and initiatives.

This includes a multi-leveled analysis using mixed methods:

  • document analysis and literature research on background, local setting and current national and municipal health and social policies, age models and related planning norms;
  • visits to institutions and municipal / community events;
  • interviews with different ‘stakeholders’ (city authorities, district leaders, experts, housing management, social and care workers, community centers, local key persons -e.g. priests, hairdressers, shop owners, bar tenders, inhabitants, planners, NGOs, etc.) (participatory)
  • observations of public space uses.

We will apply theoretical insights from the related lecture and seminar courses to specific sites and cases in Vienna through methodological approaches of researching and exploring. 

Using the debate on WHO`s “age-friendly-cities” program as our starting point, we aim to build our discussions and understandings of the policies and practices of an age-friendly city through the lens of daily life experiences of different actors of a selected neighborhood in Vienna. We will examine the process of translation and transformation of the city’s wider policies for age-friendliness into local practices and initiatives. Having collected a diversity of experiences and evaluations, we will identify processes of governance, policy making and its embedded power relations. We will identify actors, their roles and relations, their perspectives and daily practices of “doing policy” either top down or bottom up. We will focus on the effects of existing policies and ask for alternatives and new practices that might support and realize more inclusive living environments and counter exclusion. Are these urban living environments accessible for all, and what kinds of barriers do people face in participating or accessing them, socially, culturally or financially? What is their spatiality, and how does their spatiality intersect with economies, social capital and health?

The course is divided into three intensive teaching blocks (ITBs), each centering on a different stage of research:

ITB1 Exploring the Field – will introduce students to main urban actors and field sites and to basic methods of field research such as techniques of interviewing and mapping as well as on ethical issues in conducting fieldwork. 

At the end of ITB1 students will form groups, identify their research sub-theme and begin developing a research design for their chosen case study.

ITB2 Gathering data – will work as a platform to discuss the specific issues and challenges encountered by students in their research between ITB1 and ITB2. Further, teachers will provide critical feedback to groups of students concerning the data they already collected and analyzed.

ITB 3 Presenting research findings – will support students in their visualization and presentation techniques and focus on the mapping process. In the closing unit, students will present their group work and engage in a discussion, transferring the theoretical knowledge gained in the module’s lecture and seminar to the case studies.

iii. Teaching methods

Based on local site visits, encounters with local actors and experts, selected close readings and provided inputs by the teaching team, the students will independently carry out a research project in small groups on the topic of urban ageing. Students’ works are carried out in groups, readings individually, and class discussion and feedback will be given on a regular basis. We highly encourage students to mutual learning in small teams.


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