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Urban Geographies

Under the influence of progressing globalization, cities and metropolitan regions are undergoing profound changes. These changes occur both in terms of their form and size as well as shifts in the social, political, cultural and economic structures and processes that shape them. This is critical within Europe, as metropolitan regions are considered innovation centers and drivers of economic development.
In human geography at the University of Freiburg, a number of researchers from different working groups focus on current developments in cities and metropolitan areas. Within this field, particular attention is given to the development of cities and urban areas through everyday practices. Current urban geography research projects for example emphasize the importance of metropolitan regions as innovation centers and drivers of economic development, aspects of spatial perception as well as spatial planning, control, space-related conflicts and social participation in spatial design processes. Research foci surround current challenges with regard to sustainable urban development, which are analyzed through the synthesis of varied and practice-oriented approaches concerned with social transitions in the city, urban-rural transformations, and urban adaptation to climate change.

Projects related to Urban Geographies

  • Municipal Transformative Communities for Local Economies Beyond Growth (MUTUAL)
    Project Manager
    Schmid B, Chardon C (Team)
    Start/End of Project
    01.01.2024 until 31.12.2026
    MUTUAL investigates the potential of progressive trans-institutional alliances to foster growth-independent development pathways at the municipal scale. The project builds on empirical and theoretical insights on the ambivalence of economic growth as principal socio-economic orientation in the Global North: while growth plays a key role with respect to the relative short-term stability of current provisioning systems, its negative effects on ecological integrity and bad performance with respect to social equality increasingly come to the fore. To date, however, post-growth scholars focus overwhelmingly on organizations and small groups or on large-scale institutional restructuring, predominantly aimed at national and supra-national scales. Against this background, MUTUAL explores in what ways the cooperation of progressive formal-institutional and non-institutional actors at the municipal scale can lead to institutional innovations that alleviate growth pressures and facilitate further pro-environmental and -social action. Through four specific case studies, MUTUAL traces how such ‘municipal transformative communities’ establish synergistic dynamics between framework conditions and alternative economic practices to decrease the dependency of individuals, organizations, and institutions on market competition, monetary profitability, and financial resources. MUTUAL, thus, counteracts the lack of city-centered perspectives in, and the general spatial blindness of post-growth research as well as the neglect of growth dynamics in large parts of municipalist and urban transformations literature. Learning from and with municipal transformative communities, MUTUAL, finally, aims to identify expedient post-growth-oriented development pathways and broker these insights to a selected partner community.
    Contact Person
    Dr. Benedikt Schmid
    Phone: ++49(0)761 203-3566