S1719 Cities, Global Change and Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Sp. Track)

Turvani Margherita, Basso Matteo

The course focuses on contemporary cities considered as complex systems where natural, socio-economic and built environments co-evolve. Through interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches (economics, environmental sciences, urban planning, political science, etc.), it aims at exploring how cities work and change in terms of configurations of people, places and activities, as well as infrastructures and building projects, assuming a general framework of sustainable development.

The purpose of this course is threefold:

1) to provide students with the basic concepts and theories relevant to understanding the major forces that drive the changes and challenges affecting cities in the current era of global change;

2) to familiarize students with the range of planning instruments, approaches and governance arrangements 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.);

3) to introduce students to the most relevant tools, methods and frameworks for the analysis of contemporary urban challenges (public policy analysis and Geographic Information Systems).
Starting from a theoretical introduction on cities, urbanization processes and planning activities, the course will focus on Venice as a case-study of an unusual global city. Students will be invited to acquire practical skills by analysing the area of Porto Marghera, chosen as a relevant example of the key interrelated challenges illustrating the city's complexity: architecture, culture, social structure, political institutions, economy and natural environment. Students will be organized in thematic groups and from the very start of the course they will work together with the aim of critically investigating the underlying complexity of Porto Marghera, as well as proposing policy initiatives and planning goals. Field trips will be organized in order to help the students become familiar with the case-study and profit from specific meetings with the relevant stakeholders involved in the planning and management of the area.
Beyond qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews with relevant stakeholders, the analysis of planning and design documents, analysis of newspapers, and their own observations, students will have the opportunity to explore Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a fundamental tool for analysing, mapping and communicating researches on complex places. Thanks to a small Digital Lab, participants will learn how to manipulate raster and vector images, as well as contextualize historical and current statistical data and cartography.



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 according to the themes listed in the course outline.
Given their different countries of origins and backgrounds, students are 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 on Porto Marghera, continuous tutoring will be offered by the professors. Seminar revisions are scheduled (lectures 15 and 22).

The use of any kind of phones, tablets and computers (if not explicitly required by the professor) 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.