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ARL:univie International Summer School 2021

‘Urban and Regional Infrastructures’ 
29 September to 2 October 2021 at the University of Vienna

The ARL:univie International Summer School 2021 ‘Urban and Regional Infrastructures’ took place from 29 September to 2 October 2021 at the University of Vienna. In the course of a global ‘infrastructural turn’, infrastructures have gained renewed importance in geography and planning sciences during the last two decades. The current systemic questions concerning the development and planning of infrastructures go far beyond the engineering and technological issues of earlier research approaches. They reach into domains of social, political, cultural and economic debates. Global connectivity, mobility, digitalisation, urbanisation, energy demand, economic growth and crises are all linked to infrastructural networks and services in their uneven trajectories. As a result, the development of urban and regional infrastructures may shape new geographies of inequality and standards of infrastructural provisions, i.e. availability, accessibility, affordability, quality and diversity, need to be renegotiated. Normatively speaking, ‘good’ governance and the development of infrastructures can be key for sustainability-oriented urban and regional development and policies at the same time.

The participants of the ARL:univie International Summer School 2021

The Summer School ‘Urban and Regional Infrastructures’ was organised and implemented in cooperation with the Institute of Geography and Regional Research at the University of Vienna (Prof. Dr Alois Humer and Dr Yvonne Franz) member of the research platform ‘The Challenge of Urban Futures’ (Prof. Dr Yuri Kazepov). For the ARL, Prof. Dr Rainer Danielzyk and Dr Lena Greinke were involved in the preparation and management. Due to the pandemic, it was possible to continue the annual ARL Summer Schools series after an one year break and we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the ARL International Summer School this year. An online broadcast of keynotes had its premiere this year. This enabled a larger international audience to participate in the Summer School.

Keynote by Prof. Marketta Kyttä (Aalto University Finland)

Among the participants on-site, we were pleased to welcome three international scholars and the 14 doctoral students with diverse scientific backgrounds such as geography, spatial planning, sociology, socio-economics and law. Academic keynotes enriched the programme with exciting talks, a panel discussion and their valuable contributions as discussants. Invited guests include Prof. Timothy Moss (Humboldt University Berlin), Prof. Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester) and Prof. Marketta Kyttä (Aalto University Finland).

Prof. Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester) contributed to a critical reflection on ”infrastructures” based on social theory.

ARL member Prof. Timothy Moss opened the Summer School. He gave a lecture on Berlin's infrastructure policy over the time. He presented the results of his recently published book Remaking Berlin. A History of the City through Infrastructure, 1920-2020 (MIT Press, 2020) showed how radical political change and economic crises affected urban energy and water infrastructure and how they were shaped.

Prof. Timothy Moss (Humboldt University Berlin) during the live broadcast.

In the following days of the Summer School, the doctoral students had the chance to present their dissertation projects´ results and discuss them with the participants. The central theme evolved around the sustainable transformation of urban and regional infrastructures from equity, inclusion, resilience and governance. Due to the different research foci of the PhD students and the interdisciplinary design of the event, the participants of the Summer School were able to put their dissertation project into a larger context and to reflect on it critically. Furthermore, the Summer School offered the doctoral students a platform to exchange views on methodological issues and establish contacts for their academic network.

PhD students gave lectures during the Summer School.

The excursions on Thursday afternoon provided a practical reference to current and exciting projects in Vienna. The topics of the excursions were the expansion of the subway network in Vienna and digital urban development in the Urban Lakeside Aspern.

Impression of the excursion to the Urban Lakeside Aspern.

During the panel discussion moderated by Yvonne Franz (University of Vienna) on Friday afternoon, Prof. Dr Yuri Kazepov (University of Vienna), Katharina Spanlang and Florian Rautner (Caritas Vienna) debated social infrastructures based on the case of the SIforREF project. SIforREF analyses social innovation in the social and labour market integration of people with refugee experience. The discussion underlined daily real challenges such as limited financial and human resources and the importance of trust for the implementation of social projects. The programme was completed by joint dinners, which offered the opportunity for informal exchange. To our delight, the participants' feedback on the Summer School was very positive. After the Summer School, the doctoral students will have the opportunity to publish their work in a special issue series. Alois Humer, Yvonne Franz (both University of Vienna) and Lena Greinke (ARL) will act as guest editors for the European Journal of Spatial Development (EJSD). EJSD is a SCOPUS-listed journal that follows a strict double-blind peer-review process and grants all contributions a free open access online licence. The articles will thus become essential components for the respective cumulative dissertation projects. The publications are scheduled for the first half of 2022.

Participants from science and practice at the SIforREF panel discussion

More reporting on this year's Summer School: