U!REKA Lab rolls out in partner cities

29 May 2020 00:00 | Communication

Across the U!REKA consortium, we partner in various ways to educate, shape and deliver the European professionals of tomorrow. One of our key joint programmes is the U!REKA Lab: Urban Commons, which kicked off its online curriculum earlier this year.

This international and interdisciplinary blended learning and research project deals with urban commons and focuses on different co-creation initiatives in the participating U!REKA partner cities: Frankfurt, Helsinki, Ghent and Amsterdam. Lisbon is also set to participate in the project during the coming academic year.

What happens in the lab?

The hands-on nature of the lab implies that it is participatory, involving local ‘commoners’ in the process of knowledge creation. The overall goal is to compare different approaches and concrete examples in each U!REKA partner city to form a more holistic view of what commoning could mean in the cities of the future: in areas such as social life and culture, to mobility, elderly care, climate change and housing.

The lab is set up in two streams: education and research. The international education aspect consists of interdisciplinary blended learning through webinars and online forums. The research aspect will focus on setting up joint research projects by students and researchers that compare co-creation processes in the participating cities.

Working on the U!REKA Lab in Ghent

Operational progress in 2020

After several meetings and excursions in each other's cities earlier this year, the joint online curriculum called Urban Commons: co-creation processes in European cities kicked off in January 2020. This consists of a number of webinars from each university of applied sciences, which are being used as teaching material in existing lectures.

Each webinar consists of a number of fixed components, including an introduction of the city and university, commons theory and policy, as well as a separate webinar focusing on a specific local commons initiative. Required literature and assignments are part of the programme, with students creating videos of their field research / excursions to discover commoning initiatives in their local cities.

The commons concept applies to many sectors and issues, so the U!REKA Lab can be integrated in lectures from various disciplines, ranging from social work to urban governance, urban planning and housing, in both Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes.

At the end of May 2020, the first online international Urban Lab web conference was held, involving some 60 teachers and students from many different disciplines and partner institutions across the consortium. In June 2020, the first semester of the joint programme will be evaluated.

Next steps

Looking forward, the project team is participating in the Erasmus+ virtual exchange advanced training course to gain the skills needed to further develop the programme.

Although designed as an online programme, which has proven wise as the global pandemic hit this year and forced most education to move online, guest lectures may also be held in the future at U!REKA partner campuses to provide students with a richer learning experience.

In the coming year, the joint programme will be expanded with more online exchanges between students and lecturers as well as joint student assignments. The research section will be further developed and the theme Urban Commons will become part of a future U!REKA Summer School.