Urban Systems

Academic Programmes

Teaching and training programmes on cities exist at all academic levels: the University offers numerous bachelor’s degrees that relate to urban matters, as well as several master’s degree programmes and the structured PhD programmes ARUS and “Fortschrittskolleg FUTURE WATER” (see below).

The ZWU and ZLV coordinate long-established master’s degree programmes relating to water, logistics, and traffic. In addition, special mention must be made of the master’s degree programmes in “Sustainable Urban Technology” and “Urban Culture, Society, and Space”, which started in the winter term of 2011/12 and are coordinated by “Urban Systems”. The two programmes are closely linked: students are acquainted with interdisciplinary work from an early stage, when they attend all mandatory course modules together, and are thus trained to look for transdisciplinary approaches to urban challenges. The interdisciplinary profile of the “Sustainable Urban Technologies” degree programme trains students for independent professional activities in urban environmental analysis, infrastructural planning, urban planning, the strategic development of urban areas, and related fields of employment connected with complex urban systems. The interdisciplinary profile of the degree programme “Urban Culture, Society, and Space” enables students to find employment in the areas of urban cultural management, city-related strategic development in the fields of ‘image,’ ‘identity,’ and urban marketing, and in education, innovation, and integration. Both master’s degree programmes thus respond to the demand for broadly-trained experts on urban space who are able to work effectively and in an interdisciplinary fashion in academia, public administration and the private sector. A fifth cohort of students has now been admitted and commenced their studies in the winter term of 2015/16. Since the establishment of the two degree programmes, approximately 100 students from more than 15 countries every year have applied for the 40 open positions in each cohort.

ARUS – Advanced Research in Urban Systems

Since 2010, the main research area has been offering the international interdisciplinary PhD programme “Advanced Research in Urban Systems” (ARUS), which until 2014 was supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Currently, 24 PhD candidates from 13 countries are conducting research in German and English on central urban topics. In their inquiry, methods, and theories, the candidates show a disciplinary range that extends from planning, engineering and natural sciences to the social sciences and humanities. The programme’s success can be measured by the large number of dissertations completed since 2010: by December 2015, ten candidates had finished their dissertations, taking an average of 3.5 years. Their topics and disciplines have ranged from literary studies, urban geography, and media studies to political science and urban planning. Most of these projects were interdisciplinary in nature and were supervised by colleagues from different faculties.

Fortschrittskolleg FUTURE WATER

Established in mid-2014, this structured PhD degree programme is funded by the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Research. The goal of securing sustainable water management forms the backdrop to 12 highly diverse inter- and transdisciplinary dissertation projects that focus on the challenges urban environments place on water as a resource. Sociological and cultural questions are as much a topic as questions of neighbourhood development, regulatory aspects and adjusting water management infrastructure to increased usage, and the possible effects of such interventions on humans and the environment. The strong interaction with real-world practice is ensured by mentors from business, associations, and government agencies, while teams of supervisors from different fields of research guarantee an interdisciplinary approach in all the projects.

Alongside six teams from three faculties at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Biology, Chemistry, Engineering), the Ruhr University Bochum is also involved in FUTURE WATER with two teams (Engineering, Medicine), while the EBZ Business School, the University of Applied Sciences Ruhr West (HRW), the Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology (IUTA) and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) are each represented by one team. The ZWU at the University of Duisburg-Essen is responsible for coordination of the programme.

Early 2015: Michael Batty as Scientist in Residence at the UDE

The “Scientist in Residence” programme, supported by the Sparkasse Essen, allows the University to invite internationally renowned guest scholars to the UDE. As guest professors, they have the opportunity to enter into intense dialogue with researchers and young scholars at the University and ultimately present groundbreaking research from the respective area of research in a public lecture. “Urban Systems” nominated the guest professor for the winter term of 2014/15, which was taken up by Professor Michael Batty of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London. A well-known and respected urban planner and geographer, Batty has been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, including the Vautrin Lud Prize (often called the Nobel prize for geography), which he received in 2013. On January 13 2015, Professor Batty gave his public lecture on “Simulating City Systems: Developing a New Science for the Future of Cities”, in which he presented recent findings on the modelling of complex urban systems. Professor Batty also discussed recent approaches to urban complexity research in a symposium at which select UDE researchers and invited guests presented their own methods and findings. The discussion ranged from issues of regional development in the Ruhr region, sustainable land management, and the mathematical optimization of urban supply infrastructures, through modelling the German energy transition, logistics simulations, and the simulation of urban phenomena in big data models, to questions of how cultural studies model urban complexity.