Urban Resilience Education – new International Master Degree

Framing and implementing sustainability and resilience in the broad realm of urban studies is a challenge which few universities are poised to accomplish through their existing educational programs. Sustainability and resilience studies both require a variety of multidisciplinary perspectives that university departments nested in disciplinary silos cannot support. Consequentially, the skills and management tools required by city practitioners and city resilience officers are not easy to find in our universities programs. To meet this need, we, the Urban Resilience research Network (URNet), developed a 1-year master’s program hosted by the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, entitled City Resilience Design and Management, bridging the educational gap between universities and municipalities.

What, Why and How?   

Thanks to the collaboration and involvement of major international networks and agencies working on urban sustainability and resilience (including the Rockefeller 100RC, United Nation Habitat City Resilience Profiling Program, ICLEI and METROPOLIS among many others), this 1 year master program brings leading scholars and cities practitioners from different parts of the word to teach how to manage and design urban resilience strategies. Indeed, the program title City Resilience Design and Management reflects the need to go beyond the paradigm of “building resilient cities” (which assumes that resilience is a static property of urban systems that can be “built or designed”), to treat resilience as a set of processes or adaptive capacities functional to manage vulnerabilities to shifting and unpredictable impacts.

We will teach this much needed management perspective by offering workshop-based coursework, mentorship for research theses, and internship opportunities for practical, applied education experiences. Illustrated in the figure, courses will last 6 months linking theory to implementation strategies. Courses start with introducing students to theoretical aspects of resilience and urbanization processes. Then, students will explore the 4 main perspectives related to urban resilience: resilience of the built environment, ecosystem based solutions, economic and city services resilience, and community resilience. Finally, students will navigate resilience implementation challenges by exploring governance models and challenges from different parts of the world. These three focus areas will include sub-modules on software and practical skills required for each resilience topic and reflection on real-world lessons learned through site visits in Barcelona in collaboration with the Barcelona Urban Resilience Lab. Upon completion of the initial 6 months of coursework and workshops in Barcelona, students will develop a research thesis and be connected to program-specific internship opportunities among partner cities and organizations sprawled through the world. Download here the pdf with the complete structure of the courses.

Where and for Whom?

The new International Master in City Resilience Design and Management is the first, innovative university education program developed by URNet and partners, and hosted by the International University of Catalunya (UIC). This program brings international networks, organizations, and more than 24 URNet scholars from around the world to Barcelona (Spain) to teach and address the governance challenges of urban resilience. We invite students and practitioners interested in participating in the in-class program (starting October the 1st, 2018) to visit the degree webpage for further  information.

Moreover, since the mission of URNet is to promote and disseminate urban resilience knowledge, we wish to share the thoughts and learning opportunities from the City Resilience Design and Management program to the broader, international community. To achieve this, we will publish short videos, interviews with lecturers, blog posts, and materials from the courses through this new URNet EDUCATION section. Together, we hope participation in this new master’s program and broad dissemination of program content will increase global opportunities and debates about resilience.