More than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. Dynamics of urbanization, which have partially slowed down in the Global North, occur today at a massive pace and on a much larger scale in the so-called Global South. As global changes continue to strengthen worldwide, their positive and negative impacts become evident locally: cities are the place where such emerging challenges (i.e. unemployment, social unrest, migrations, climate change, environmental crisis, etc.) are directly experienced by people in their every-day lives. Cities, however, are also the context where such issues become a matter of policy intervention and design innovation.
The course focuses on contemporary cities considered as complex systems where natural, human, socio-economic, political and built environments co-evolve. It aims at exploring how urban policy-making processes work today, and particularly their effectiveness in tackling the impacts generated by global changes.
The goals of the course are the following:
1) to introduce students to the basic concepts and theories relevant for an understanding of the major interrelated forces that drive the changes and challenges affecting contemporary cities;
2) to introduce students to the field of the public policy analysis (i.e. policy/politics, the social construction of collective problems, networks of actors, resources and issues at stake, forms of knowledge and decision
making rationality, implementation and evaluation, etc.);
3) to familiarize students with the set of planning tools, approaches and governance models involved in the contemporary urban policy-making process (comprehensive plans, strategic plans, mega-events, mega-projects, culture-led urban development, bottom-up social initiatives, etc.);
4) to introduce students to the use of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other digital tools as policy-making supports to analyse, map and address contemporary urban challenges.
The course is divided into three modules. Module 1 introduces students - from a theoretical perspective - to cities, global changes, urbanization processes, planning policies and the field of the public policy analysis. Module 2 introduces students to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a fundamental tool for analysing, mapping and communicating researches on complex places, and other digital tools to collect information through field-work research activities. Thanks to a small Digital Lab, participants will learn how to manipulate raster and vector images, contextualize historical and current statistical data and cartography, become familiar with other survey softwares. In Module 3 students will be introduced to the case-study; the module is structured as a real urban analysis and policy design workshop experience where students will acquire practical skills through the analysis of the complex interrelation between Venice and the global changes affecting the city and its residents. The activity bases on a learning-by-design approach, testing skills and theories presented within Module 2 and 3.
Students will be organised in work-groups (with a mix of nationalities and university backgrounds) which will work together to critically investigate the underlying complexity of such policy areas proposing policy initiatives and identifying planning goals.
Students are expected to do the required readings and to attend class regularly, as attendance is compulsory (maximum 15% absence is allowed, see VIU Program Regulations). Required readings will be designated on a weekly basis.
Considering students’ different origins and backgrounds, they will be encouraged to participate and discuss actively during the lessons in order to enhance a regular exchange of points of view, ideas and perspectives.
With reference to the development of the case-study, continuous tutoring will be offered by the professors.
The use of any kind of phones, tablets and computers (if not explicitly required by the professors) is strictly prohibited during the class hours.
Penalty grades will be assigned to students who fail to observe these rules. This means that unexcused absences, lateness, low participation in class discussion, disrupting classes and the use of technological devices if not required will reduce the final grade.
The course will consist of the following autonomous evaluations:
1) mid-term evaluation: in-class individual written test (percentage of the overall grade = 50%);
2) final evaluation: presentation of the group-works (percentage of the overall grade = 35%).
In addition, a 15% of the overall grade will be attributed according to class attendance, participation and interaction.
Abbott C. (2020). City planning: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lynch K. (1960). The image of the city, Cambridge: MIT Press.
In addition, selected chapters from the following books will be provided by the professors:
Beck U. (2016). The metamorphosis of the world: how climate change is transforming our concept of the world. Germany: Polity Press.
Desjardins J. (2020). Signals. Charting the new direction of the global economy. Canada: Visual Capitalist.
Hall P. (2002). Cities of tomorrow: an intellectual history of urban planning and design in the Twentieth
Century, 3th edition, Malden, Oxford: Blackwell.
JRC (2019). The future of cities. Opportunities, challenges and the way forward. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Sapru R.K. (2013). Public policy. Art and craft of policy analysis. Delhi: PHI Learning Privated Limited.
Last updated: March 15, 2023