Program

Oct 2022-Sep 2023

60 ECTS

Taught in English

The International Master’s Degree in City Resilience Design and Management is the first trans-disciplinary program providing you the comprehensive, integrated perspective about Urban Resilience and Sustainability. The title reflects the need to go beyond the “building resilient cities” paradigm, taking resilience as a process expressed through a set of capacities that cannot be just “built or designed”, but must be managed, thus prioritized or decreased (nobody among us wants corruption to be resilient).

The aim of this master’s degree is to allow and teach students to become and work within a global community of practice through a continuous learning process. Classes, debates and workshops will providing them the skills to start understanding many disciplines’ inputs and then learning how to work individually and in team toward a Trans-disciplinary approch (beyond academia, understanding city practitioners, activists, and professors, and thus confronted with real-world issues and projects).

Our goal of building and feeding through time this glocal community of practice, of transdisciplinary urban resilience thinkers, will also facilitate and support each student in defining the individual interests, project ideas or career ambitions.

The one year program is divided into 2 semesters: the first is a mix of on-site & virtual classes, while the second is focusing on individual report writing (similar to a thesis) and the most of it spent for the internships (3 to 5 months). Scroll down and dive into the detailed descriptions of each of the many modules which contribute to make this master a truly exciting learning experience

This programme is intended for university graduates from the following areas of urban studies:

  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Urban Design
  • Geography
  • Social and Political Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Landscape and Environmental Design and Management
  • Regional Economy, Ecology

Modules

Conceptual Framing: Vulnerability, Resilience and Sustainability

This module will provide students with a multidisciplinary introduction of resilience and how it relates to cities. The purpose is also to align different students’ backgrounds with the challenges of global urbanization processes from a socio-economic, climatic and environmental changes points of view.

The evolution of risk assessment methods will be briefly explored (while an in depth study of resilience assessments will be conducted in the Implementation module), in order to better understand the shift from risk to resilience policy and practices, and the complex relationship between vulnerability and resilience.

The recent overlap between resilience and sustainability (especially within policy frameworks) will be critically examined, allowing students to grasp the tensions, synergies and trade-offs among different concepts: vulnerability, resilience and sustainability.

Finally, disaster resilience and climate resilience (definitions, approaches, frameworks) will be introduced, as these are the core thematic pillars of city resilience.

At the end of this module students will have a proper understanding of the evolution of resilience and urban resilience, how this concept relates to similar ones and how it is used respect to disaster and climate challenges.

Built Environment Resilience

This module has been thought to explore the meanings, approaches, methods and tools for the planning and policies related to the resilience of the built environment. Students will get an overview of critical infrastructure, exploring engineering, planning and social sciences approaches. A G.I.S brief course helps in understanding how a risk map is built, and to get how critical infrastructures are displayed.

A specific course on a tool (software) for assessing critical infrastructure vulnerability and resilience is helping student to get some practical skills about how to handle the complexity of networks resilience within the built environment. Also, this way students will bridge theory and practices, understanding the limitations and challenges to map and thus manage critical infrastructures resilience and also transitions toward more sustainable systems.

A course on flooding resilience will introduce how drainage works and hard infrastructures could help reduce, or almost mitigate flooding in cities. Students will visit Barcelona underground rainwater recollection deposits in order to understand pros and cons of these hard infrastructures. These learnigs will be key for the next module teaching on decentralized water management practices.

Finally, students will explore the disaster resilience perspective about how rebuilding processes through Build Back Safer shold take place, overcoming the built enrivonment previous sensitivities to potential shocks and paving the way toward more resilience structures.

This module, although focusing on the built environment, will of course touch economic, social and environmental dimentions nested within it, and introducing topics which will be explored in the forthcoming modules.

Resilience and Nature Based Solutions

After the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005, green infrastructure role in cities has been increasingly promoted, because of their ecosystem services contributing to lower the risks and contribute to urban sustainability. This module explores the frameworks and applications of green infrastructures, how these relate to ecosystem services and disservices, and how concepts and application evolved to the latest concept of “Nature Based Solutions”.

A critical perspective on both frameworks and applications will introduce students in understanding the limitations of nature base solutions, particularly related to groups (issues of gender, or classes) or spatial scales (who is benefitting where, and who is not and actually suffering potential green-gentrifications)

Within the module there will also be a course providing methodological approaches for the geospatial analysis of urban ecosystem services, with a focus on those services most contributing to urban resilience and climate change adaptation (e.g., runoff control, urban
cooling, air purification).

The course will showcase some examples of spatially-explicit ecosystem service assessments involving different quantitative methods, including look-up
tables (ecosystem service matrix), proxy-based models (e.g. ESTIMAP) and process-based models (i-Tree Eco). The mapping of urban ecosystem services will address its supply (i.e., the capacity of urban green infrastructure to provide benefits to people), but also its actual flow and demand, including how to analyze potential inequities in the access to these benefits.

Community Resilience for Sustainability Transitions

This module explores one of the fundamental components of resilience, which is related to socio-economic capacities to deal with change. Both facing disasters, climate risks or the daily urban challenges communities and individuals resilience deeply shape development patterns.

The main topics explored during this module include:

1) Understanding of the resilience cycle as a systemic concept of adaptive change, applied to social systems and at the community scale.

2) Introduction to regenerative development and pattern language as practical frameworks for facilitating and catalyzing community resilience.

3) Exploration of community resilience as a process of effective change management and adaptation by learning about community catalyzation strategies (i.e. leverage point activation, critical yeast and critical mass, regenerative governance, cooperative hubs, network building and transition processes).

4) Assessment of community knowledge co-creation and adoption in post-disaster reconstruction and armed conflict reconciliation.

5) Practising of community resilience tools and methods to employ when working with communities in order to strengthen systemic resilience, with a focus on participation, governance and development in social, economic and political systems.

Resilience Implementation: Planning and Governance

This module addresses the challenges of integrating different perspective of resilience, thinking about how to implement it through frameworks and tools. The module is splitted in 2 parts: one more focused on design, the other more on policies and strategic planning. Students need to chose one group only for this module. However, all students will start together through multiple courses and seminars analyzing city resilience assessments and frameworks, and getting introduced to different city resilience strategies.

Also, students will get introduced to city resilience networks, and how these work, in order to get a grasp about who is working, and how, on urban resilience implementation.

In a second phase, and splitted within two groups, the courses will take the format of workshop (design studio). Each year the two professors responsible for the workshops will chose a case study and a topic and work with each of the group on some implementation challenge, in a synergistic way. The group working on strategic planning will be responsible for creating the proper assessment framework for the case study, the planning criteria and thus the mangement scheme for the case study resilient plan. The second group will work on the site built environment and flows analysis, and will be responsible for building the design proposal enhancing resilience and sustainability for the case study. Both groups will finally merge their works and understand the challenges and potential pathways for enhancing resilience, integrating the planning, management and design dimensions.

Resilience News and Learning path

This module is thought to find the most effective way of staying updated about what is happening across the globe in term of urban resilience. It offers the opportunity of sharing the collective knowledge and learning capacity through crowdsourcing.

We do not only live in a world threatened by climate change and environmental degradation, or social injustice, but also in a world increasingly (tele)connected. The number of networks through which resources can be shared have been growing faster than our capacity to deal with such an amount of information.

Students will be all having different interests and sources of information, although common goals. Every day they will be asked to take this first hour of the day as if it was a 1-hour reading-breakfast and choose the more relevant news each week, to bring them for group discussion in class.

Selecting criteria could vary from the news’ original approach, scale or impact, to their relevance in terms of wrong examples, because of a false/misleading/metaphoric/marketing driven use of the concept of resilience.

Thesis

This is not a Master of research, but an executive program, introducing students to work environments. This means we don’t want you to invest months in a research, but rather learning how resilience happens on the ground, and how to work for enhcnaing it. The thesis therefore is not a research, but a short report we ask students to develop exploring the evolution of resilience along the recent history of a selected city they choose.

These reports explore how plans, policies, practices related to risks reduction have been evolving toward addressing a variety of both shocks and stresses. Finally, a discussion and conclusion part of these work present how far the concept of resilience has arrived nowadays, in integrating different (potentially synergistic or conflicting) practices, and which could be the way foreward for the selected city.

This kind of thesis allows students to apply and demonstrate the acquired analytical skills, in understanding (and communicating) different resilience perspective, and discuss their implications, potencial gaps and suggestions for improvements.

The best works will be published in a dedicated section of our web – CITIES – allowing students to get their work online, disseminate them, and invite the City Resilience Officers to a seminar for discussin the report and way forward in the program with the students of the next cohort. You could see some of these works here

Internship

The intership is an imporntant part of the program, taking almost the whole second semester and it aims to bridge the gap between theory and practices.

Students are supported in the identification of the right partner in different ways. During the first trimester, the module News and Learning Process is offering a course on Theory U about learning and setting personal goals linked to a professional path. After this, during the second trimester a list of partners will be introduced to students (some partner will be introducing theirselves during seminars) and mentors will help students find the right partner for the internship.

The host partners are mainly city resilience officers, international organisations, NGOs, multilateral agencies, consulting firms, engineering and architecture studios among others (you can scroll few of them in our Partner section).

Internships usually start around mid April/May, but could be done part time (taking almost 6 moths) or full time (taking 4).

Students will be encouraged to write a short post to be published in our blog, on their experience, and how this is helping them to advance the understanding about resilience and how to implement it. This could help the student to disseminate his/her work, and strenghten his/her social media professional profile.