THE MASTER'S PROGRAM
In our rapidly changing and contested global environment, cities are becoming increasingly important: they house a majority of the world’s inhabitants and act as catalysts of social, political, economic, cultural, and ecological change. The Master in Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel offers a pedagogical platform for understanding these planetary transformations. The program expands the study of the urban by examining today’s social struggles and global conflicts in relation to the legacies of empire and alternative practices of world-making and knowledge production. It starts from the premise that the world’s urban and environmental challenges call for new ways of thinking as well as doing. Imagining alternative futures means rethinking the present—its historical making, its political unfolding, and the ways in which it is made sensible.
The Master in Critical Urbanisms is an English-taught four-semester program that trains a new generation of graduates to think and act beyond divisions of urban versus rural and North versus South in order to address the complexity of urban lifeworlds in the twenty-first century. The program is supported by an internationally recognized faculty who work on and with cities and territories from a global perspective. The curriculum trains students to develop theoretical and practical competencies, oriented toward both scholarly and public platforms. This combination is essential to address the extraordinarily complex imperatives of urbanization in the twenty-first century.
Two trademark elements:
1) Interdisciplinary urban research that combines humanities and social science methods with creative practice and visual representation. Drawing from the disciplines of architecture, geography, history, sociology, political science, and anthropology, the curriculum provides students with a unique grounding in urban research.
2) Immersive learning in dynamic urban contexts, with the choice between a semester of study and research on urbanisms from the Global South, which takes place at the African Centre for Cities of the University of Cape Town, or a semester of study and multi-sited research exploring urban processes that work across North/South geographies.
Download the FAQ Sheet here.
For details about the curriculum, download the study guidelines here.
Please visit our official program page for more information.
Please contact Jennifer Felsenberg with any questions.
The Racial Justice Student Collective and Critical Urbanisms' commitments to Racial Justice
1 September 2020
As Critical Urbanisms students and faculty at the University of Basel, we are committed to supporting and uplifting the core principles of the global Black Lives Matter movement in our own program, as well as across the University. We believe that a decolonial perspective must include acknowledging and dismantling the systemic racism embedded within all institutions, including the University.
Higher education – in Basel, Switzerland and beyond – maintains a white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative, and classist order of operations. It prioritizes knowledge making from white, cisgender, male bodies and rewards them accordingly, while continuing to profit from centuries of colonial plundering that place people of color, and Black women and transgender people especially, at a disadvantage in accessing the benefits of academia. This knowledge is then often prioritized over non-academic community knowledge.
As our program boasts a curriculum that includes “the study of the urban by examining today’s social struggles and global conflicts in relation to the legacies of empire and alternative practices of world-making and knowledge production,” we should be particularly committed to begin the long but critical process of unlearning racism and building antiracist practice within academia, starting with our own program. Despite positioning ourselves within a discourse of disrupting colonial legacies, the program maintains a logic of colonialism within itself. While our program invites academics from a variety of backgrounds for lectures and seminars, the on-site faculty is still predominantly white. Critical Urbanisms began with the aim of studying legacies of colonialism in the Global South, but also profits from white supremacy in many ways, for example, by utilizing resources like the Basel Mission archives, which contain colonial records since 1815, and sending students to study the Global South without any possibility for students from the Global South to study Switzerland.
As we evaluate our alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement, our program's commitment to addressing racism, in particular anti-Black racism, can be found in the following link: