The urban challenge programme
The purpose of the Urban Challenges is to strengthen university faculty and students’ ability to work innovatively with real life urban challenges posed by public and/or private stakeholders. We wish to foster innovation and enhance connections between universities and businesses as well as the broader urban environment – the city. Through closer collaboration in the triple helix, a community of compatible scholars and practitioners is established and contributes to a strengthening collaboration between European universities within sustainable urbanisation.
As an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional, cross-cultural higher education programme, the Urban Challenge Programme facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experience, and ideas for urban sustainability across cities and countries. Each programme is structured as a 7.5 ECTS accredited, project-based intensive and two-four week comparative exchange course in Copenhagen and one of our seven partner cities.
More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2030, the urban population is expected to hit 5 billion people. This vast urbanisation offers both challenges and opportunities in meeting the demand for better and more sustainable living conditions. Sustainable urbanisation is an important topic with very wide percussion for social, economic and environmental sustainability. Its’ reach is global, and there are important lessons that countries, companies and cities can learn from each other.
The massive urban growth makes cities increasingly important as human, social and commercial hot-spots. This happens simultaneously with an increase of a resource shortage and an increase in the wealth of urban inhabitants. Thus, by 2020, consumption is expected to overtake investment as the largest contributor to China’s GDP growth (McKinsey, Global Insights, 2012). Academia and industry are tackling the challenges of increased wealth, resource scarcity and high urban density by looking into smarter ways of living, commuting, eating, etc.
Achieving a more sustainable urban future, better governed urban areas and more livable cities requires understanding of a wide range of approaches and disciplines. Therefore, we wish to work on each urban challenge case by embracing disciplinary approaches from a wide range of disciplines; urban studies, ethnography, anthropology, geography, engineering, finance, urban planning and governance, business development and innovation and entrepreneurship studies. By combining approaches through a multidisciplinary and trans-national research and teaching collaboration we contribute to the development of theories, methods and analytical frameworks within urban sustainability and by that strengthening shared knowledge and experiences on a European level. The urban challenges thereby strengthen innovation capacity and foster sustainable urban innovation in higher education, business and the broader socioeconomic environment.
We have selected and initiated collaboration with partners representing different challenges and approaches to urban sustainable development, from a business-, teaching- and research based perspective. The partner organisations represent enterprises and top ranked universities within the field of sustainable urbanisation. By working closely with partner enterprises on each urban challenge we bring real-life challenges into the classroom to the benefit of students, faculty and businesses alike.
In short, as cities increase in population, complexity, wealth and power, public-private organisations direct their focus towards them. At the same time, we can learn from each other by collaborating internationally in solving some of the generic challenges that cities face. Therefore, there is both a reason and a need for an educational program that addresses the challenges of sustainable co-existence and urban governance.