Spatial Dimensions of Sustainability Transitions: Laboratories, Living Labs, Experiments and Planning


Lehrende: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Leibenath

Angebot für Masterstudierende in Landschaftsarchitektur & Landschaftsplanung sowie interdisziplinäres Angebot für ASL-Studierende

Western societies need to make a rapid shift towards greater sustainability, also referred to as sustainability transitions. These processes have important spatial dimensions. Cities and urban agglomerations play a prominent role in this process, as they are not only major contributors to the current state of unsustainability, but also the places where change is likely to happen. According to the so-called multi-level perspective, change often starts in small niches and then expands to the level of technological and political regimes. Such niche activities can also be called real-world laboratories, urban living labs or experiments.

The overall aim of this course is to examine the spatial dimensions of the current socio-ecological crisis as well as the implications of the urgently needed socio-ecological transformations for cities, landscapes and regions. Specifically, students will be introduced to different aspects of sustainability labs and experiments in urban, regional and landscape planning.

The seminar consists of three parts. In the first part, the notions of planetary boundaries, Anthropocene, sustainability transitions, transformations, living labs, etc. are introduced through lectures and group discussions.

The second part is dedicated to student presentations based on 1-2 international journal articles each. These will cover topics such as:
- Scaling and rescaling of niche experiments,
- Participation and social selectivity,
- Power in transformation processes, and
- Success factors and enabling conditions.

Finally, in the third part, students are to prepare small case studies. The aim is to combine the findings from the international journal articles with cases (national or international) chosen individually by the participants.

Students are expected to (a) complete a small assignment related to the introductory lectures, (b) give an oral presentation on a specific aspect of the overall topic, (c) engage with the Kassel case, (d) write a small report (no more than 10 pages each) and, above all, (e) actively participate in class discussions.

Teaching and Learning Methods: Lectures and group discussions, student presentations, visits to ongoing living labs in Kassel (e.g. in the framework of the Climate Protection Council Kassel).