Habitat Unit

DAAD/BMZ, 2021 – 2025
Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz, Prof. Anke HagemannLucas-Andrés ElsnerNadine Appelhans

The Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab, SDG Graduate School 2021–2025 

The WITS-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab is one of the DAAD Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools that provide infrastructure for cooperative efforts among German higher education institutions and their international counterparts. The project aims at developing critical perspectives on urban education in African contexts. It supports master and PhD students at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Further, various events for educational exchange and fostering academic development, especially for young researchers, are part of the project’s spectrum.

Graduate education: The WITS-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab seeks to consolidate and expand the efforts of the 2016-founded “Wits-TUB Urban Lab” to bring a specific African perspective to global discussions on postgraduate education and urbanism. The partnership of Technical University Berlin and the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg has grown to include the University of Lagos, Nigeria. The project trains Master students in the field of urban management at Wits and UniLag with strong sensitivities to the specific challenges of SDGs implementation in urban Africa. These courses are in keeping with the local context and cutting-edge scientific knowledge. The project also establishes a structured and collaborative PhD training programme between the three partnering institutions.

Capacitation of early career academics: Another focus of the project is the capacitation of PhD and early career academics. The goal is to address the needs of a generation of knowledge practitioners whose critical perspectives and creativity are much needed today. To do so, the project offers regular online training events and enhances those with support and mentoring programmes. Most of the training programmes are open to the public and will be communicated via the project’s website and social media channels. Furthermore, funded PhD students and postdocs will be supported to realize stays at the partner institutions.

Thematic focus: In the field of research, the project engages with the following key themes. They are considered critical for re-orienting planning pedagogy and research in African planning schools toward equitable SDG implementation: Critical urban resilience and urban justice as a key response to inequality and informality and the global endeavor to leave no one behind. Further, a focus on solidarity, self-reliance, and the embrace of plural and co-productive knowledge systems. Research will feature in a PhD studies programme at Wits and UNILAG and through postdocs’ research across the three institutions, leading to an international conference, book project and bear on pedagogies.

Networks: The graduate school operates within North-South(-South) networks and works together with stakeholders from academia and research, the public sector, business and civil society. The project also engages in pan-African networks for research and pedagogies such as ARUA, AURI and AAPS. As the project thematically tackles a central issue of current development cooperation practice, the implementation of SDG in urban Africa, it contributes to build expertise and strong networks to central players in the field.

Goals & Outcomes: The pursued outcomes include: (1) Qualified Master’s and PhD students from sub-Saharan African countries have completed educational programmes relevant for SDG implementation in urban areas; (2) Wits and UNILAG offer regionally recognized SDG-related qualification programmes at Masters and PhD level, addressing specific sub Saharan African urbanization challenges; (3) The capacities to conduct critical research related to the SDGs at TUB, UNILAG and Wits as well as at sub-Saharan partner Universities have been strengthened, focusing on the qualification of early career researchers/post docs. (4) Other higher education and training institutions in sub-Saharan Africa region have benefited from the learning and innovations developed and implemented at the Wits and UNILAG.



DAAD SDG Graduate Schools+

The DAAD Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools aim to provide the infrastructure for fostering cooperative efforts among German higher education institutions and their counterparts in Latin Africa, Latin America and Asia. They resonate with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are formulated as joint objectives for the world community and cover a broad range of topics and social issues.
Achieving the SDGs requires a series of multidimensional transformations which must be based in systematic knowledge. Therefore the SDG Graduate Schools engage in the generation of robust basic knowledge that contributes to higher ecological, social and economic sustainability and train young people so they can promote the sustainable well-being of their societies.
The seven DAAD Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools in Latin America, Asia and Africa reflect the multifaceted character of the 2030 Agenda. They engage in capacity building through developing and teaching programs related to different SDGs in the natural and social sciences. They also promote academic internationalization and interdisciplinarity: Frequent exchanges among partners (at all stages of development) enable researchers and students to view global challenges from different regional perspectives and modes of knowledge production and identify interdependencies and cases for comparison between the different world regions. They also put into practice the Agenda 2030 mandate to overcome scientific and political boundaries and approach challenges for sustainable development from to integrated perspective. In order to disseminate their findings, all SDG Graduate Schools have established ties with other epistemic communities and engage with important stakeholders from politics, the economic sector, and civil society. Funding for the DAAD SDG Graduate Schools is provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ.

Call for 2022 Scholarship applications for Master & PhD Students at WITS University +

Call for Masters Scholarships for studies in the School of Architecture and Planning, WITS University, Johannesburg. The scholarships apply to the 1 year full time degree of Master of Urban Studies in the field of Urban Management MUS (UM) at Wits University in Johannesburg, supported by the Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab programme. Download the full call here.

Call for PhD Scholarships under the WITS-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab interdisciplinary trilateral postgraduate studies programme. Download full call here.

Academic Partners +

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, School of Architecture and Planning
Prof. Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane, Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer, Taki Sithagu, Carmel Rawhani, Tsepang Leuta, Zakiyyah Ayob

Wits school of architecture and planning 2


University of Lagos, The UNILAG Centre of Housing and Sustainable Development,
Prof. Taibat Lawanson, Basirat Oyalowo, Deborah Ojo


UNILAG Centre of Housing and Sustainable Development

Contact +

Lucas-Andrés Elsner

Raum A 064
T + 49 – 30 – 314 – 22224
F + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21907


Dr. Nadine Appelhans

Room 624 (A 53)
T + 49 – 30 – 314 – 27391