Wits – TUB Urban Lab Interdisciplinary Bilateral Postgraduate Studies Programme
The recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement have highlighted the fundamental roles played by cities and local urban stakeholders in achieving sustainable development. The Habitat III process and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), currently under discussion and expected to be agreed in Quito in October 2016, is a unique opportunity to strengthen the urban narrative globally and provide an enabling framework for cities and local urban stakeholders to achieve SDG goals. By recognising that cities and their inhabitants safeguard global common goods, such as climate, economic prosperity, social integration, democratization and political stability, a profound change in policy responses is needed to enable truly transformative actions, motivating changes in the way we use, build and govern our urban environments.
The bilateral Wits-TUB Urban Lab programme supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) seeks to improve graduate education in urban fields across sub-Saharan Africa. Both lead partners, the Habitat Unit at the School of Architecture of the Technische Universität Berlin, and the School of Architecture and Planning at University of the Witwatersrand offer a new urban-oriented graduate and postgraduate training and capacity building programme that would effectively address the challenges and needs outlined above.
The overall objective of the programme is to: Contribute to the implementation of urban-relevant SDGs and the New Urban Agenda in sub-Saharan Africa through the development of a sustainable, bilateral academic programme at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) and TU Berlin (TUB) that will deliver increased capacities at institutional and individual levels in academia, civil society, private and public sectors. The main project activities will include bilateral exchange activities, workshops and conferences implemented through the Wits-TUB Urban Lab and will focus on four innovation areas that address SDG implementation in urban areas:
- Integrated approaches towards SDG implementation
- Implementation tools
- Political context for urbanisation
- Practice orientation: Wits-TUB Urban Studio
The programme offers scholarships to African students with the first scholarships available for the masters studies at Wits University commencing in 2017.
Between July 17 and July 28 2017, the Habitat Unit hosts the first summer school of the Wits – TUB Urban Lab Interdisciplinary Bilateral Postgraduate Studies Programme (2016-2020).
The summer school focuses on the themes of co-production and practice orientation in research and academia. In this context, the summer school explores three sub-themes central for urban development practice and research. This includes key concepts and different approaches relevant for contemporary housing, urban ecology, social in- and exclusion and urban informality as the three themes with which we research for new innovative ways to co-producing knowledge that also encompasses more practice orientation. The summer school offers the possibility to critically reflect on the origins of such concepts and their applicability across contexts of the global South and North.
The summer school is joined by 14 Master students and 5 PhD students from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg as well as 23 Master students from the TU Berlin’s international Urban Management Programme. Additionally a number of external scholars from South Africa and Germany take part in the summer school, deliver guest lectures and contribute to the planned discussions and workshop sessions.
In the context of the Wits-TU Berlin Summer School, we also host a public Urban Talk lecture with Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer, who speaks on “Interrogating the New Urban Agenda from the perspective of pressing urban realities in Sub-Saharan Africa” on Monday, July 17, 6.30pm in TUB H3005.
The Summer School is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) via the Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools initiative.
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, School of Architecture and Planning, Professor Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane, Professor Marie Huchzermeyer