The Urban Challenges


The Urban Challenges

The Urban Challenge Programme has offered seven elective courses for master students enrolled at one of the eight partnering universities - Aalto UniversityCopenhagen Business School, University of Edinburgh, HafenCity UniversitätUniversity of Latvia, and Sapienza Università di Roma. Each electives has been 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. 

We will have one last Urban challenge course running in the Spring 2019 at CBS. This will be the last course of this program and we will kickstart it with the Urban Challenge conference. You can read more about the course here:  .

The previous courses covered the following:

Please scroll down to get to the course descriptions.  


Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was offered jointly by the University of Edinburgh Business School and Copenhagen Business School to postgraduate students from both universities. The course focused on theoretical transdisciplinary teaching with practice-oriented project work led by academic staff from the University of Edinburgh Business School, Copenhagen Business School and The Ecological Sequestration Trust. The project was also supported by policy makers and business leaders from Edinburgh and Copenhagen. 

The programme involved bringing together a cohort of students from both business schools to work together for two weeks in total, with one week in each city. 

The course took place in Edinburgh and Copenhagen between May and June 2018
The vision behind the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was to create a trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural higher education programme to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, investigate past, current and future experiences and accelerate innovation for urban sustainability. The specific focus of the programme was climate change mitigation, involving carbon accounting, finance and management. The programme brought together students, teachers, municipalities, and businesses to work together on real-world challenges in the two cities.

Goals of the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge programme focused on the following:

  • Build a lasting collaboration between faculty and students at the University of Edinburgh Business School and Copenhagen Business School.

  • Develop trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-country approaches to research, teaching and learning related to urban sustainability.

  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship skills of higher education researchers, teachers, graduate students, municipalities and practitioners within urban sustainability.

  • ·Progress integrated systems thinking with regard to solving city scale sustainability challenges.

  • Establish a dialogue and close collaboration with key business stakeholders and thereby strengthen the relationship between universities, cities and businesses.

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was centred on carbon policies and CO2 emission reduction, and focused on real-world challenges related to carbon accounting, finance, strategy, and knowledge transfer, in Edinburgh and Copenhagen. Students were introduced to a number of methods, standards, and tools for addressing the challenge they were presented with, including different forms of carbon accounting, stakeholder mapping, and a city-scale resource flow platform developed by the Ecological Sequestration Trust called, that supports and facilitates financial investment decisions within sustainable urbanisation.

The learning outcomes of the programme included:

  • An understanding of the main techniques, methods, and tools for climate change mitigation planning and financial appraisal.

  • The ability to critically analyse the utility and limitations of different methods and approaches.

  • The ability to analyse a sustainability challenge/problem, and to develop appropriate and workable solutions.

  • The ability to interpret and respond to client/partner requirements, constraints and concerns, including an appreciation of reputational sensitivities.

  • Demonstrable skills in data collection and in the use of carbon accounting/financial appraisal techniques.

  • Skills in problem-solving, group-work, prioritising and sharing tasks, working to deadlines, and presenting outputs to external audiences.

The structure of the programme is intended to facilitate the sharing of lessons between the partner cities, universities, and the participating student cohorts. The case study partner in Edinburgh is the City of Edinburgh Council.

The Copenhagen case partner was the Greater Copenhagen Region. The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future, as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes.

Course Structure

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge programme ran for two weeks, with one week in each partner city. Up to 15 students from each university (30 in total) worked together throughout the programme in mixed study groups across cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The stays in Edinburgh and Copenhagen were structured through lectures, seminars, site visits, individual study time, group work, and project presentations.

Participants took part in all planned activities, and help make the summer school a great experience for everyone, both academically and culturally.


Kathi Kaesehage is an Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Business School and the Centre for Business and Climate Change. Kathi gained a PhD from the University of Exeter where she also completed a Post Doc. Kathi has a strong interest in climate change and business, sustainable development and social change. She is interested in why and how business leaders approach the knowledge gap between climate change science and business practice. She emphasizes interdisciplinary research approaches engaging local business communities and government drawing on a variety of ethnographic research methods to ensure knowledge exchange between the University and local stakeholders. Kathi has also been active in the private sector including working on energy and development for the Endeva Institute on behalf of the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). 

Matthew Brander is a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and is Programme Director for the MSc in Carbon Finance. His research is in greenhouse gas/carbon accounting, focusing on the different methods for assigning responsibility for managing emissions, and for estimating the changes in emissions caused by climate change mitigation policies and actions. His background is in carbon consultancy and policy analysis.

Kristjan Jespersen is a Doctoral Fellow at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). As a primary area of focus, he studies the growing development and management of Ecosystem Services in developing countries. Within the field, Kristjan focuses his attention on the institutional legitimacy of such initiatives and the overall compensation tools used to ensure compliance. He has a background in International Relations and Economics. Kristjan has formed close relationships with the Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil Associations, and consults on issues of sustainability. Kristjan was most recently appointed by the Copenhagen Business School, along with Professor John Robinson, to coordinate the sustainability components and management of the proposed 35,000 square meter campus construction project.

Sarah Ivory is an Early Career Fellow in Climate Change and Business Strategy at the University of Edinburgh Business School. She is a member of the Centre for Business and Climate Change which develops dedicated teaching and research relating to aspects of business and management impacted by, or which have an impact on, climate change issues. Sarah earned a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests include the study of how organisations understand, implement and legitimise sustainability and/or climate change policies and strategies, with a particular focus on the tensions, contradictions, and challenges this can expose. Prior to academia Sarah worked in the private sector, co-founding a biotech company based in Singapore.

Professor Peter Head, CBE is a visiting professor in Sustainable Systems Engineering at Bristol University and is a civil and structural engineer who has become a recognised world leader in bridge design, advanced composite technology and now in sustainable development in cities and regions. He has won many awards for his work and in 2008 he was named by the Guardian Newspaper as one of 50 people that could ‘save the planet’. He founded and is currently CEO of The Ecological Sequestration Trust building the world’s first integrated systems platform to measure resource flows in and out of a city-region.

John Robinson was the Associate Provost, Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and is a professor with UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability and with the Department of Geography. Most recently, John has been appointed as Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto. In 2015, John was also made an Adjunct Professor at the Copenhagen Business School. Presently, John is one of the key project leaders for the new CBS Campus Redevelopment project. He works closely with Denmark’s municipal governments, utilities and businesses. John’s research focuses on the intersection of sustainability, social and technological change, behavioral change, and community engagement processes. As a Lead Author, he contributed to the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore.

Jørgen Abildgaard is Project Director for the 2025 Carbon Neutral strategy and plan for the City of Copenhagen. Jørgen is an experienced project manager and strategic adviser who has worked on several projects in Denmark and other Nordic countries and internationally for companies, organizations and governmental administration. Jørgen has worked with a wide range of tasks within the energy and environment area such as energy planning and strategies, green growth, climate change, sustainability, the Kyoto mechanisms, the Nordic power market, renewable energy, energy efficiency, research and development, building regulations and investments in the energy sector.

Course pensum:

Brander M., Carstairs S. and Topp C. F. E. (2013) ‘Global protocol for community scale greenhouse gas emissions: a trial application in the West Highlands of Scotland’, Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Management, 3(3-4), pp. 149–165. doi: 10.1080/20430779.2013.877313.

Crang MA & Cook I 2009. Doing ethnographies. Sage, London.
Denzin NK 2001. The reflexive interview and a performative social science. Qualitative Research 1: 1 , 23-46.

Ecological Sequestration Trust (2015): Smart ways to mobilise more efficient and effective long-term investment in city regions. Available at:

Ecological Sequestration Trust (2014). Platform Report. Available at: SD, Quartaroli MLT & Riemer FJ 2012. Qualitative research: an introduction to methods and designs.

‘Greenhouse Gas Protocol - Policy and Action Standard - Executive Summary’ (2014). Available at:

Kaesehage, K. (2016). The Smart Accelerator. How to Create Smart Project Partnerships. A Qualitative Process Evaluation. ClimateXChange, Edinburgh.

Pacala S. (2004) ‘Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies’, Science, 305(5686), pp. 968–972. doi: 10.1126/science.1100103.


Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was offered simultaneously by Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Business School and HafenCity University in Hamburg. Students from all three universities were taught together spending two weeks in Copenhagen and two weeks in Hamburg. The Urban Challenge was supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.  Course contents were innovative, practice-oriented and trans-disciplinary.

The course took place in Copenhagen and Hamburg in August 2018.


Course Context

The vision of the Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was to create a trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural learning experience for students, researchers, and practitioners that build capacity to identify and solve complex urban issues sustainably and collaboratively across sectors.

Cities are considered to be the melting pots of modern society - the proximity and density of people and organisations tend to foster innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. One of the biggest challenges in the 21st century is to plan urbanised areas and to design public policies in such a manner that they facilitate thriving businesses, organisations and people, while addressing global environmental and social challenges, such as climate change, immigration and income disparities. At the same time, numerous companies cater to the growing demands of urban citizens and local city governments in everything from fast moving consumer goods to housing, infrastructure and energy. The challenge is to balance the many public and private expectations on urban space, - without losing sight of urban sustainability. Thus, the Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge takes a citywide and regional development perspective on public, private, and non-profit sector actions that shape solutions to the most pressing issues of today’s societies.

Course Description

Students conducted a comparative analysis of HafenCity in Hamburg and Nordhavn in Copenhagen contextualizing both districts within the larger development patterns of the metro-regions of Hamburg and Copenhagen. A specific focus was on finding a sustainable balance of regional, citywide and district needs regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation, housing of immigrants, and dealing with income disparities. Assessing the role of the districts within the larger context enabled students to identify drivers within private, public, and non-profit activities that could enhance the districts and cities ability to address these challenges in a sustainable manner. Based on their initial analysis, students identified sustainable public, private and non-profit sector solutions to the identified urban challenges within the environmental, social and economic realms. The solutions included for instance, public policy changes, introduction of new standards, new business opportunities, infrastructure projects or non-profit advocacy campaigns.

The partner company Rambøll shared insights and experience as a leading engineering and design consultancy.

Learning goals

The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge intends focused on achieving the following:

  • Build a lasting collaboration between students and faculty of Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Business School and HafenCity University in Hamburg;

  • Develop a foundational unit for trans-disciplinary and cross-country and -city approaches to research, teaching and learning within urban sustainability;

  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship skills of higher education researchers, teachers, graduate students and practitioners within urban sustainability;

  • Facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge within urban sustainability through mobility and cross-city cooperation between Copenhagen and Hamburg.

  • To establish a dialogue and close collaboration with key business stakeholders and thereby strengthen the relationship between universities, cities and local businesses.

  • Foster meaningful collaborations between economists, engineers, political scientists, social scientists, life scientists, urban planners, policymakers, developers amongst others/and many others.

Course Structure

The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge proceeds during a six to eight week, including one-and-a-half weeks of exchange in Hamburg followed by one-and-a-half weeks in Copenhagen. Students will work together in mixed study-groups across culture and disciplinary backgrounds. The first one-and-a-half weeks students must select a focus on climate change, immigration or social income disparities and start preparing initial analysis for their cities regarding citywide needs.

By the end of the first one-and-a-half weeks the initial citywide analysis was finalized, the actual exchange took place with three weeks of fieldwork in Copenhagen and Hamburg. The stay in Copenhagen and Hamburg was structured through lectures, company visits, group and fieldwork, and project presentation. During the group work, students examined the case study in relation to citywide needs and compared the two case studies towards identifying public, private and/ or non-profit approaches to address the needs.

  • Students were grouped into cross-institutional teams so as to identify and analyse complex urban challenges – teams could choose to focus on either climate change, immigration or income disparities at the district and citywide scale;

  • Assess new technologies and models for sustainable change;

  • Identify the interdependencies, actors and networks of the chosen urban challenge;

  • Evaluate the scope and viability of potential solutions that help tackle the chosen urban challenge;

  • Uncover potential innovative business opportunities for tackling the chosen urban challenge;

  • Work alongside leading companies who are actively seeking to make lasting changes within cities.

Guiding questions for the course were the following: How do we make decisions in cities while considering global challenges such as immigration, climate change, and growing income disparities? How supportive are our government policies and relationships with enterprises to meet these challenges? What are the agents of change and who is leading the way? How do NGO’s gain legitimacy and influence local city governments? The case studies of HafenCity and Nordhavn will help build an understanding of how these neighbourhood transformations can be implemented, and who the active partners are, including public, private and civic, that were engaged in the development, and what their role and interaction is. Questions such as; 1) who is driving the development, 2) who is financing the development, and 3) how sustainable is the development.

To contextualize the two case studies, students were presented with a selection of other ‘real-life’ cases.

 Course pensum included:

Bridges, W. (1986), Managing Spatial Transition. Organizational Dynamics 15(1), 24-33.

Bulkeley, H., Betsill, M. (2005), Rethinking sustainable cities: Multi-level governance and the 'urban' politics of climate change. Environmental Politics 14, 42-63.

Bulkeley, H., Betsill, M.M. (2003), Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global Environmental Governance. Routledge, London.

Bulkeley, H., Castan Broto, V. (2012), Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Burch, S., Shaw, A., Dale, A., Robinson, J. (Forthcoming) Triggering transformative change: A development path approach to climate change response in communities. Climate Policy.

Frantzeskaki, N., Loorbach, D., Meadowcroft, J. (2012), Governing transitions to sustainability: transition management as a governance approach towards pursuing sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development 15, 19-36.

Fröhlich, J., Knieling, J. (2013), Conceptualizing Climate Change Governance. In: J.

Knieling & W. Leal Filho (Eds.), Climate Change Governance: Series Climate

Change Management (pp. 14-31). Heidelberg: Springer.

IPCC - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2014). Fifth Assessment

Report. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Retrieved on March 15, 2015 from

Nevens, F., Frantzeskaki, N., Gorissen, L., Loorbach, D. (2012), Urban Transition Labs: co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities. Journal of Cleaner Production.

Rode, Carsten (2012), Global Building Physics, Journal of Building Physics, 36(4), pp. 337–352


Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

  • The Helsinki-Copenhagen Smart City Challenge was offered simultaneously by Copenhagen Business School and Aalto University. Students from both universities spent one and half weeks together in Helsinki and one and half weeks in Copenhagen. The course contents were innovative, practice-oriented and trans-disciplinary.

The course took place in Helsinki and Copenhagen between August and September 2018.

Course Context

The vision of the Copenhagen-Helsinki Smart City Challenge was to create an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural learning experience for students, researchers, and practitioners. An increasing number of today’s core innovation approaches to solving urban challenges are defined under the concept of smart cities. A key premise in these innovative approaches is that by collecting and analyzing data and information from the physical environments and inhabitants, it is possible to find solutions toward many sustainability problems and improve people’s everyday lives. Both Copenhagen and Helsinki met the key requirements for a smart city in a number of ways. There is political vision and willingness to invest and research in smart cities and a strong culture of innovation. Big data is also available for public and private sectors.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is a key issue for smart cities. The Copenhagen-Helsinki Urban Challenge critically explored the scope and possibilities of the concept on smart cities and the parallels and variety of approaches for how it is being implemented in Helsinki and Copenhagen. In particular it studied the convergence of sector approaches with examples in transport, buildings, energy, street illumination and related smart cities solutions. The course offered students the opportunity to conduct a comparative examination of cases, stakeholder perspectives, and user and marketing studies with projects targeting private sector partnerships and government opportunities addressing specific sustainability problems in these two cities.

Course description

The course consisted of interactive lectures following a number of interrelated tasks. The overall task was to make a comparative analysis of the scope and practical ways in which Helsinki and Copenhagen are advancing their goals representing smart cities. Typical areas addressed by local stakeholders with smart city approaches deal with transport, energy and built environment. In practice, this means among other things, building energy use, smart metering, illumination, mobility, parking and accessibility. The students acquainted themselves with sustainability planning and the administrative context of both cities, and with the role of smart city solutions in the development of new residential areas. The students engaged with a number of interrelated smart city questions intended to develop a critical overview of the multiple interrelations discussing the larger context of smart cities to gain insights into questions like the potential impacts of smart solutions on consumer privacy, and how automatization may impact mobility and urban living more generally.

Course structure

The Copenhagen-Helsinki Urban Challenge proceeds during three weeks, including one and a half weeks of exchange in Copenhagen followed by a similar period in Helsinki. The stay in Helsinki and Copenhagen was structured through lectures, company and site visits, group and field work, and project presentation. With the group work, students worked on the specific course task for the duration of the course ending in the production of a group presentation to discuss the case in a smart city analysis light and providing exploration of creative possibilities.

Course pensum included:

Albino, V.; U. Berardi; R. M. Dangelico: Smart Cities: Definitions, Dimensions, Performance, and Initiatives. In Journal of Urban Technology, 2015 Vol. 22, No. 1, 3–21.

Batty, M.; K.W. Axhausen; F. Giannotti; A. Pozdnoukhov; A. Bazzani; M. Wachowicz; G. Ouzounis; Y. Portugali: Smart cities of the future.  In Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics 214, 481–518 (2012).

Creating Municipal ICT Architectures. A reference guide from Smart Cities.

Krivý, M.: Towards a critique of cybernetic urbanism: The smart city and the society of control. In Planning Theory (2016, published online).

Luque-Ayala, A.; S. Marvin: Developing a critical understanding of smart urbanism? In Urban Studies 2015, Vol. 52(12) 2105–2116.

Neirotti, P.; A. De Marco; A. C. Cagliano; G. Mangano; F. Scorrano: Current trends in Smart City initiatives: Some stylised facts. In Cities 38 (2014) 25–36.

Niaros, V.: Introducing a Taxonomy of the “Smart City”: Towards a Commons-Oriented Approach? In triple C 14(1): 51-61, 2016.

Ruoppila, S.: Establishing a Market-orientated Urban Planning System after State Socialism: The Case of Tallinn. In European Planning Studies Vol. 15, No. 3, April 2007.


Shelton, T.: M. Zook; A. Wiig: The ‘actually existing smart city’. In (fortcoming) Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society.

Thomas, V.; D. Wang; L. Mullagh; N. Dunn: Where’s Wally? In Search of Citizen Perspectives on the Smart City. Sustainability 2016, 8, 207



Riga-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Riga-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The main objective of the course was to explain the concepts of urban regeneration and integrated urban development and to describe the specific processes, methods and instruments related to these concepts. The course investigated spatial, programmatic, social and entrepreneurship dynamics of city study cases and with comparing, evaluating and researching by designing create imaginative spatial and strategical scenarios to maintain urban quality. The Riga-Copenhagen Urban Challenge, advanced core knowledge and skills as a grounding for practical and theoretical applications. The aim of the course was to provide students with both theoretical and typological knowledge of urban settings as well as insights into urban research methods and techniques in tune with anthropological investigation methods and their application to urban planning design. The teaching methods included lectures, seminars, debates and workshops. The module included theoretical and practical activities. A number of best practices in the field was analysed, especially based on the last 2 decades of European experience and projects were developed for selected areas of intervention from Riga, Copenhagen and other cities.

In the context of specific city neighbourhoods, the principal focus of the class was on urban renewal, innovation, and social sustainability. By the end of the course the students got an understanding and the capabilities to develop integrated projects and urban regeneration strategies. Communication skills and team working were also developed during the module practical teaching sessions. Sub-themes covered in the context of the class were: local food production, local energy, sustainable housing, circular economy, arts and creative industries and blockchain currency and governance.

The course took place in Copenhagen and Riga between April and May 2018.

Course objectives

Students were motivated to think about how to create renovated spaces that have a purpose whereby the retrofit project that supports its sustainability objectives by:

  • Producing a world-renowned building project, that

  • Operates at the frontier of sustainability,

  • Is net positive in both human-well-being and environmental outcomes,

  • Contributes directly to the health, productivity and subjective wellbeing of everyone in the buildings, and that

  • Directly supports and is reflected in the social innovation and community engagement activities that go on in the building and the campus community, including

  • An ongoing monitoring and social science research program, that offers the opportunity to implement, test, and teach sustainability,

  • A specific focus on the analysis of behaviour change,

  • The encouragement of innovation for societal benefit,

  • A strong focus on breaking down silos between students, faculty and society,

  • Partnerships with firms and organizations interested in sustainable building and neighbourhoods, that offer the capacity to build a regional scale living lab that focuses on the role of the business sector in the sustainability transition.

  • Exploring possible ways for integrating students drive and commitment in more informal learning ways, such as extracurricular projects, informal collaboration with researchers along with the possibility of internships and for-credit engagement with both on-campus and off-campus partners.


Kristjan Jespersen (KJ)
Kristjan Jespersen is Assistant Professor in Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). As a primary area of focus, he studies the growing development and management of Ecosystem Services in developing countries. Within the field, Kristjan focuses his attention on the institutional legitimacy of such initiatives and the overall compensation tools used to ensure compliance. He has a background in International Relations and Economics. Kristjan is one of the founding partners for the Nordic Rainforest Research Network, a research consortium that was granted the last remaining one million hectares of first growth forest in Borneo, Malaysia. Kristjan has formed close relationships with the Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil Associations, and consults on issues of sustainability. Kristjan was most recently appointed by the Copenhagen Business School, along with Professor John Robinson, to coordinate the sustainability components and management of the proposed 35,000 square meter campus construction project.

Viesturs Celmins (VC)
Viesturs Celmiņš is a social anthropologist and explorer of urban development, large-scale buildings planning and strategic analysis. He has been a Fulbright Fellow at New School University in New York and ESRC Fellow at Cambridge University. He is doctoral student at Cambridge University and currently is conducting research on urban planning, as well as delivering lectures at University of Latvia and Riga Stradins University. He has participated in the development of long-term development strategy "Latvia 2030", regional development planning and alternative scenario development in Latvia. His doctoral research concerns vast changes brought about by large infrastructure projects in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.

Ilze Paklone (IP)

Dzineta Dimante (DD)
Dzineta Dimante is Associate Professor in the University of Latvia lecturing in Environmental Economics and Natural Resource Economics with great attention to sustainability issues. Dzineta’s research is devoted to sustainability and education for sustainable development issues. She tries out different pedagogic methods with emphasis on students own work and contribution. In 2012 Dzineta one semester spent as Fulbright scholar in Hamline University, Minnesota. She has experience in working in international team.

Aija van der Steina (AvdS)
Dr. Aija van der Steina is senior researcher of Scientific Institute of Economics and Management at University of Latvia and visiting lecturer of Monash University (Australia). In 2014 Aija van der Steina and Dr. Dzineta Dimante founded the Tourism and Sustainability Research Lab with the aim to strengthen the research on sustainability and sustainable development at the Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Latvia.

Aija has great experience in research fields related with tourism and sustainable development. She works in close collaboration with municipalities, state and business organisations, she is an adviser of National Tourism Organisation, expert for development of strategies for local municipalities. Ministry of Economics (Latvia) have awarded acknowledgement to Aija for her contribution in tourism research and strategy development in 2011.

In 2012, 2014 and 2015, Aija lectured and mentored master students at Monash University`s Field Schools “Contemporary Tourism and Development in Emerging Economies” in Vietnam and Fiji.

Guntars Ruskuls (GR)
Guntars Ruskuls is Deputy Head of the Board of Strategic Management and Head of the Strategic Planning Division of City Development Department of Riga City Council. Guntars has been the leader of preparing Sustainable development strategy of Riga City until 2030 and Development programme for 2014 -2020. He has participated also in several other development and territory planning projects. Guntars has received Master degree in Geography in 2000 from the University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences (programme of regional development and planning) and is co-author of several scientific publications.

Company participants

Una Meiberga (UM)
Una Meiberga has received the Bachelor degree in Law (2001, University of Latvia) and the Master degree in Social sciences (2012, Riga Stradins University). Una works as cultural project manager since 2001. She has worked as fashion designer, conceptual artist, film director and producer, creative director of cinema, been active in several NGOs. Since 2011 is culture program director and content creator in Kalnciema Quarter where are managing exhibitions, concerts, theatre, performances, local markets, educational programs and other public events for wide audience. Un works also as a lecturer in Riga Stradins University. Skills: event planning, communication & networking, marketing, brand management, community building, place making, social research and projects, grant writing.

Marcis Rubenis (MR)
Marcis Rubenis is social entrepreneur and urban activist. Focus of his work has been engagement, participation and co-creation in relation to city making processes. Marcis is one of the founders of FREE RIGA, collective for creative and social temporary use of the vacant buildings in Riga, which is connecting owners of vacant property with initiatives that can maintain and reclaim it for the society. Another side of his work has been developing co-creation workshop methodologies, as well as online tools for citizen engagement and crowdsourcing.

Edgars Ivanovs (EI)
Edgars Ivanovs is the Developer of Riga Powerhouse, a real estate startup with an aim to create a global chain of Urban Powerhouses - branded coworking spaces for creative companies in revitalized industrial properties. Edgars has 12 years experience with urban innovations and real estate sector. He has a Master's degree Of Business Administration and track record of formal and informal research. Edgars has been involved in public sector as an economic development advisor and has an experience in startup field. He has spent 2 years living in Spain where he worked as an urban innovation researcher at Citymart. 


  • Theories of urban growth and change; how these might relate to urban regeneration;

  • The mechanics of the property development process;

  • The urban development process, and the role of planning;

  • Policy formulation and implementation within local urban areas;

  • The ways in which local problems and issues are tackled by different agencies;

  • Physical regeneration and flagship developments;

  • Institutions, agencies and funding mechanisms;

  • Public and private partnerships

Essential reading

Lewis Mumford, The Garden City Idea and Modern Planning, in Larice and Macdonald, The Urban Design Reader, 2006, Pages 43-53.

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities,  "Foreword to the Modern Library Edition", "Introduction","The Generators of Diversity".  Pages xi-xviii, 5-34, 187-197.

Critique of Le Corbusier:  Lewis Mumford, "Yesterday's City of Tomorrow" in The Lewis Mumford Reader, Pages 184-200.

Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, "The Image of the Environment", Pages 1-13; 46-49; 146-147.  The Lynch analysis is one of the methods to be used in the neighborhood study of Project I.  

Allan Jacobs, Looking at Cities, "Starting to Look", "Seeing Change", "Looking Back".  Pages 1-13; 99-107; 133-141. 

Christopher Leinberger, “The Coming Revival of American Downtowns” in Lusk Review: The Future of Central Cities, Fall 1997, Pages 53-62.
Christopher Leinberger, “The Shape of Downtown: What America’s Downtowns Need Is Walkable Urbanism” in Urban Land, Nov/Dec 2004, P 69-75.

Sustaining Urban Excellence: Learning from the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation, 1998, Preface and Executive Summary, Pages vii to xi.

John Pastier, Case Study:  Pike Place Market Neighborhood, Seattle: Preservation of a “social ecology”in Sustaining Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation, 1998.

Anthony Downs, The Brookings Institution, "Metro Areas Can't Go On This Way" (Essay).

Anthony Downs, How Cities Are Growing: The Big Picture” in The Brookings Review, Brookings Institution, Fall 1998. Pages 8-12. 

Matthew Kahn, Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment, “Introduction”, P 1-7 and “Achieving Global and Urban Sustainability”, Pages 130-137. 

Hildebrand Frey, “Compact, Decentralized or What? The Sustainable City Debate”  in Designing the City: Toward a More Sustainable Urban Form.


Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge overall aim was to act as a foundational unit for students, teachers, municipalities and businesses across disciplinary backgrounds and national borders to address urgent challenges and sustainability issues in different European contexts. The Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge focused on a study of urban farming and gardening in Rome and Copenhagen, exploring the multiple functions of urban agriculture. In particular, the economic, social and environmental functions. Professors from Sapienza University of Rome and CBS and the Copenhagen-based design consultancy Urgent Agency taught students from both universities.

The Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was an elective targeting business and social sciences students at master level across different disciplines. The course was offered to students at CBS and Sapienza University of Rome. The aim of the course was to explore in depth and share knowledge on challenges and opportunities to urban farming and gardening based on the Rome-Copenhagen contexts. 

The course took place in Copenhagen and Rome between July and August 2018.

The vision behind the Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge was to create a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural and cross-institutional elective focusing on the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences on urban farming and gardening to promote and enhance urban sustainability across Rome and Copenhagen primarily, but also other cities and towns. Moving from urban farming and gardening, this elective aimed at fostering sustainable innovation and knowledge on how to create more sustainable systems, facilitating and drawing on the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural make up of the group. 

The course centred on the four following overall challenges: 

  • · Community development

  • · Business model and business model innovation

  • · Circular economy thinking

  • · The planning, management and governance of green space

  • · Private and public interests

Goals of the Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge were:
•   To build knowledge on urban gardening and farming

•   Strengthening the understanding of context in sustainability challenges

•   Strengthening analytical skills for addressing sustainability in an urban context

•   Strengthening qualitative methodological skills

•   To motivate innovation and entrepreneurship for urban sustainability

•   To facilitate the exchange and creation of knowledge within communities engaged in urban farming and gardening through mobility of students and teachers and cross-city comparison of aims, constraints and opportunities

Course Description

The Rome-Copenhagen Urban Challenge (ROCUC) was a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural elective promoted by the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and EuroSapienza at Sapienza University of Rome.

Focusing on cases of urban farming and gardening, the students addressed and analysed some of the following questions:

•   Agriculture and local food markets in urban contexts

•   Gardening and collective use of natural resources and cultural heritage

•   Gardening as a tool for social integration and neighbourhood development

•   Organizational issues in urban planning with specific reference to community involvement

•   Sustainable development in local food production

•   Business models and business model innovation

•   The social dimension of sustainability

The case studies in Copenhagen and Rome were meant to support the student analysis of the themes and to inspire the development of ideas for addressing urban challenges.

The course had two key learning objectives.

The first learning objective was to enable the student to independently design and conduct a fieldwork-driven project in a hands-on multi-sited case study. In the context of Copenhagen, the projects were designed by drawing specifically on qualitative methods, design thinking and Urgent Agency’s methods. This also included the reflective ability to apply relevant theoretical perspectives and methodologies, and to select and develop types of field inquiry and presentation appropriate to the given topics.

The second learning objective was to enable student to critically assess the role of urban agriculture and gardens in different socio-economic and cultural contexts, keeping into account the aims of different groups of potential stakeholders (including pupils, migrants, retired persons, and disabled people) together with the relevant constraints and opportunities in each context. As a major ingredient of this critical assessment, the students were able to contextualise urban agriculture and the management of green areas within global processes such as migration, increasing inequalities and social movements.

Students were expected to

•   Identify and analyse relevant problems and challenges in relation to urban challenges under the overall theme.

•   Demonstrate an understanding of how, why and when to apply relevant methodologies and theory from the curriculum in a field-study of complex cultural urban settings.

•   Assess and compare critically the analytical potential of the chosen methodologies, concepts and theories to business, in the case of urban gardening and farming.

•   Present their findings to faculty and key stakeholder/experts and in order to gain valuable feedback.

•   Meet basic academic requirements for project writing, including level of written English and references


Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen, Professor and Director of CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Kirsti Reitan Andersen, PhD, CBS Center for Corporate  Social Responsibility

Christian Pagh, Culture Director, Urgent Agency

Ricky Storm Braskov, Culture Analyst, Urgent Agency

Claudio Cecchi PhD, Professor, Sapienza University of Rome

Elisabetta Basile DPhil, Professor, Sapienza University of Rome

Pietro Garau, Professor, Architect and Planner

Sara Baiocco, PhD, Sapienza University of Rome

Suggestions for readings
Brown, T. (2008) Design thinking, Harvard Business Review,June, p. 85-92

Fisher, C. (2012) Sustainable Inter-Organizational Relationships in Regional and Non-Regional Agri-Food Supply Chains in Arfini, F., Mancini, M. C. and Donati, M. (Eds.) Local Agri-Food Systems in a Global World, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Girotra, K. and Netessine, S. (2014) Four paths to business model innovation, Harvard Business Review, July-August, 

Kolko, J (2015) Design thinking comes of age, Harvard Business Review, September, p. 66-71

Massa, L and Tucci, C. L. (2014) Business Model Innovation, in The Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management, Dodgson, M., Gann, D. M. and Phillips, N. (Eds.). UK: Oxford University Press, p. 420-441

McCaffrey, S. J. and Kurland, N. B. (2015) Does “Local” Mean Ethical? The U.S. “Buy Local” Movement and CSR in SMEs, Organization and Environment, p. 1-21

Muratovski, G. (2016) Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010) Business Model Generation, United States: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Salcido, G. T. and Muchnik, J. (2012) Globalization/Fragmentation Process: Governance and Public Policies for Localized Agri-Food Systems in Arfini, F., Mancini, M. C. and Donati, M. (Eds.) Local Agri-Food Systems in a Global World, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

1. Farming and food markets in metropolitan areas

1.1. Sonnino, R. (2014), The new geography of food security: exploring the potential of urban food strategies. The Geographical Journal. doi: 10.1111/geoj.12129
1.2. Morgan, K. Sonnino, R. (2013), The school food revolution: Public food and the challenge of sustainable development. Routledge, London.

2. Informality

2.1. Gërxhani, K. (2012), The Informal Sector in Developed and Less Developed Countries: A Literature Survey. Public Choice. Vol. 120, No. ¾: pp. 267-300
2.2. Chen, M. et al. (2002), Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A statistical picture. ILO, Geneva.
2.3. Chen, M. (2012), The Informal Economy: Definitions, Theories and Policies. WIEGO Working Paper No 1 August.

3. Cultural heritage and common land

3.1. Ostrom E. (1998), A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action: Presidential Address, American Political Science Association, 1997. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 92, No. 1: 1-22 Ostrom.pdf?attredirects=0

4. Farming regulation on common, private and public land

4.1. Schmidt, O. Padel, S. Levidow, L. (2012), The bio-economy concept and knowledge base in a public goods and farmer perspective. Bio-based and applied economics 1.1: 47-63.
4.2. Plieninger, T. et al. Mainstreaming ecosystem services through reformed European agricultural policies. Conservation Letters 5.4 (2012): 281-288.

5. Management regulation for gardens and parks

5.1.Colding, J. Barthel, S. (2013), The potential of ‘Urban Green Commons’ in the resilience building of cities. Ecological Economics 86: 156-166.
5.2. Barthel, S. Parker, J. Ernstson, H. (2013), Food and green space in cities: a resilience lens on gardens and urban environmental movements. Urban studies: 0042098012472744.