EDS383 Global Transitions and the City

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Kirsti Stuvøy

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:30

Course frequency:Biannually in odd years. 

Nominal workload:

250 hours.

The learning activities in this course include lectures with student activation, class discussions, a term paper with feedback, self-study of the readings and individual essay writing. 

Teaching and exam period:This course takes place in the Fall parallel. 

About this course

The trend to an increasingly urban world is transforming societies globally. Cities are recognized as powerful global political and economic actors. They function as points of connectivity that facilitate global flows of finance and knowledge in the global market society. They experiment and develop policies towards a decarbonized and ‘green’ society and engage in city diplomacy to achieve recognition and status internationally. This power of cities draws attention to limitations in state-based thinking about global order. How are cities and global order connected? How is global transformation manifested in cities? How are cities drivers of transformation? What does an urban lens explain about global order change?

This course uses the city as a lens on global transitions to explore such questions. It maps the "urban turn" in international relations and its emphasis on global market relations as shaping de-territorializing logics. These challenge the foundation of the traditional sovereign state system. This leads on the one hand to cities as powerful actors in global governance of challenges such as climate change. On the other hand, it makes cities visible as places in which many people experience marginalization effects of the global transformation processes that elevate cities globally.

The course approaches cities as fascinating, varied, and focused places in which to study inequality, security, and violence in a global perspective. It explores the dark side of global urban transformation in selected case studies across the global north, east, and south. These provide insights on how to think about cities and how parts of cities are framed as ‘Badlands’. The course studies violence in the city and urban warfare. It explores how marketization and privatization processes became embedded in former socialist urban spaces and marginalization effects of these processes. The course addresses how cities act as problem-solvers that engage in global governance alongside states. With its focus on selected cases, this course emphasises contextual knowledge as basis for thinking comparatively in a global perspective about urbanisation and global change.

Theoretically this course engages with international relations theory and its subdiscipline of international political sociology as well as with urban and development studies, geography. It invites students across campus to engage in exploration of global change through a city lens. With its focus on urbanization, global transformation, and challenges with security, climate, and development, the course addresses the transformation towards inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities (SDG #11).

Learning outcome

Knowledge and competence:

  • The student can explain and discuss concepts such as sovereignty, global order, global city, marginality
  • The student can explain which historical changes of the global political economy are associated with the global city-concept, and how this concept is linked to global order change
  • The student can explain links between the global city-concept and the understanding of urban margins and critically discuss these connections using theory and empirical illustrations
  • The student has knowledge of cities as actors in global governance
  • The student has knowledge of the urban turn in international relations
  • The student is experienced with holistic analysis of social, economic, and political developments
  • The student can identify a comparative case study approach and discuss comparative method
  • The student can identify relevant sources, and discuss benefits and challenges with case-specific analysis of global transitions
  • The student has training in critical thinking and how to analyze empirical sources and draw on theory/conceptual discussion to identify global societal problems, ask questions, and form a judgement

Writing skills and oral presentations:

  • The student has training in communicating in writing and orally, to peers, the complexities of global city and global order change
  • The student has through independent writing learnt to use empirical illustrations of broader global political phenomena
  • The student has through engagement in class learnt to draw on literature and insights from across various fields, including international relations, urban politics and planning, and development studies
  • The student has experience with identifying sources relevant to a case study and how to collaborate with peers on a city-project/case study
  • The course comprises lectures, seminars, project work, and independent writing activities. 

    The seminars are for discussion and students will be assigned specific readings and topics to discuss. There will be discussion of core concepts, themes and empirical examples. Active participation in seminar discussion enhances the learning experience in this course. 

    In the project work, which lasts several weeks, students independently research a topic in collaboration with other students. The focus is on identifying relevant sources, analyse these, establish an understanding of a case/issue, and develop researchable questions. Students prepare a presentation. 

  • The learning platform Canvas provides details about the various sessions in the course. Students find assigned readings in Canvas and submit their assignments for review there.
  • Knowledge of international relations, development, urban studies/planning, political science, sociology, and similar fields.
  • Individual term paper of 6000 words (A-F).

  • External examiner is involved in grading term papers alongside the course responsible/teacher (internal examiner). 
  • Project work and participation in the presentation is compulsory. 
  • This course is open to students interested in urban issues and politics in a global perspective, i.e. students in international relations, development studies, urban and regional planning, international environmental studies, landscape architecture, and others.
  • The course comprises lectures and seminars. Lectures are weekly and last 2x45min. There are six seminars and these last 2x45.
  • M-IR.
  • Knowledge of international relations, development studies, urban studies/planning, political science, sociology, etc.