Urban Systems

New Centres established during the Reporting Period


The Centre for Urban Epidemiology (CUE) was established with the professorship for Urban Epidemiology in August 2012. CUE, directed by Prof. Susanne Moebus, provides an institutional basis for and strengthens the connections between the Faculty of Medicine and the interdisciplinary Main Research Area Urban Systems at the UDE in epidemiological research in urban contexts.

The purpose of CUE is to support preclinical biomedical research with findings from population-based studies and data for pioneering research questions. Other objectives include developing evidence-based healthy action strategies at neighbourhood level and establishing research projects and networks with regional stakeholders from diverse sections of society and research.

One of CUE’s research priorities is to analyse the relationship between the urban environment and the health of its inhabitants. The researchers apply epidemiological, sociospatial  and urban planning methods to gain a detailed picture and understanding of the complex interrelationships within the urban system. Their work here is based on clinical, social and environmental information from the population-based Heinz-Nixdorf Recall Study and the subsequent Heinz-Nixdorf Recall Multigenerational Study. The data is to be combined with a social and spatial analysis of the cohorts’ living environment. The analyses are partly being conducted in research training projects within the international Master’s programmes “Urban Culture, Society and Space” and “Sustainable Urban Technologies”. A further research priority is to examine the direct and indirect effects on health of the Emscher redevelopment. The largest infrastructure project in Europe, it sets out to convert an 80-kilometre-long open wastewater canal into a natural waterway. The Emscher renaturalisation project is a generational project incorporating technical, social, cultural, political, economic, structural, spatial and environmental factors and can help to deliver a detailed picture of the relationships between urban conditions and health.


Founded in June 2013, the Methodenzentrum Qualitative Bildungsforschung (MzQB) of the Faculty of Educational Sciences will also make its own valuable contribution to the Main Research Area Urban Systems in the future. The MzQB, led by Prof. Jeanette Böhme, has set itself the task of concentrating and intensifying work on fundamental questions of methodology and method in qualitative research on upbringing and education. Its goal is to make qualitative methods a fixed part of educational research, junior researcher training and the educational science degree programmes.

In working towards this goal, the MzQB is setting up a “Kindheit und Jugend im urbanen Wandel” dataportal on childhood and youth under urban transition, which is being funded by the Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) as part of an infrastructure funding line for the social sciences and the humanities. This dataportal provides access to research, initially relating to the State of NRW and the Ruhr region in particular, on social change in the region; as such it strengthens both the regional context of research at the universities in NRW and the visibility and scientific treatment of the structural changes taking place in the region. At the same time, a database for long-term studies in childhood and youth research opens up potential for national and international comparative analysis, which in turn sets the region’s structural transformation in a broader social context and creates a basis on which appropriate political and educational strategies may be discussed. The dataportal should make it possible to research and use data material from qualitative studies in childhood and youth research (funded by the DFG, BMBF/BMFSFJ and the “Länder”) and regional archives collated since the 1970s. The process will involve researching, digitising and archiving audio recordings of interviews, videos, photographs, observation protocols and contemporary documents.