Critical Urbanisms: Theories and Methods


Kenny Cupers, Manuel Herz, Sophie Oldfield, Ginger Nolan

Course Description:

This course introduces students to debates in Critical Urbanisms. It focuses on the various ways in which explicit or tacit assumptions, theoretical constructs, and inherited and new ways of seeing bear on concrete urban practices and lived experience. The goal of the course is to explore the “real-world” work of theory and the ways it can help reframe urban challenges and shape critical urban practices. How is theory mobilized to reinforce or question physical or social interventions in the city? How are dominant assumptions about urban life contradicted by new actions and experiences? How can critical understandings of urban lifeworlds be developed into new modes of urban practice? The course is organized into three thematic blocks. The first block, “Urban Challenges,” focuses on major urban challenges, from issues of housing provision and urban modernization to refugee camps and urban growth in the global South. The second block, “Knowing the City,” introduces students to theoretical constructs about urban experience, sampled from a variety of disciplines including urban studies, geography, history, anthropology, and architecture. The third block, “Critical Practices,” shifts the focus to practical and concrete ways of developing critical perspectives onto the urban condition today, from visual arts, sculpture and performance to architectural forensics.

Format and Learning Objectives:

This seminar aims to introduce students to foundational ways of understanding the urban condition, by focusing on the relationship between urban challenges, urban theories, and critical practices. Its goal is to forge a common vocabulary for students interested in urban studies who are coming from a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds.



Part of Module:

Critical Urbanisms: Introduction

Type:  Seminar
Semester:  Fall
Credit Points:  2 CP
Location:  Spalenvorstadt 2
Language of instruction:  English
Scale:  Pass/Fail