ARL International Summer School 2018
"Small and medium-sized cities: New deal, new ways of dialogue?"
5 to 8 September 2018, Lille (France)
Small and medium sized cities (SMC) have received only little systematic attention in academic discussions on spatial development. Over the past decade, discussions mainly focused on either metropolises and agglomerations, their economic growth, or on peripheral rural areas with economic decline, low population density and poor infrastructure. Therefore, the question about the role of SMC in spatial planning and development remains open.
Small and medium sized cities have to cope with several challenges. On the one hand, economic or demographic decline, often due to a poor connection to other cities and regions threatens the SMC. That is why they are described as less dynamic in many cases – which carries the implication that these cities lack value and are therefore unimportant to urban policy debates. On the other hand, new academic debates demonstrate, that small and medium sized cities play a more significant role than policymakers acknowledge. Depending on country and region, SMC can be explored both in processes of metropolisation, or as “anchor points” in rural areas – providing employment opportunities and infrastructure, thereby supporting prosperity in both cases. This shows that researchers and regional practitioners deal with new relationships between small and medium sized cities and their surroundings. Consequently, research on SMC offers different approaches, focusing for example on regional governance concepts, hegemonic (distribution) processes, and relationships between different actors across various scales.
The ARL International Summer School will discuss conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions that explore small and medium sized cities in an innovative perspective, focusing on the relations between surrounding cities and regions, their impact on urban and regional development and consequences of/for spatial planning and development strategies.