ARL International Summer School 2018

Geschäftsstelle der ARL: 

"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. The ARL International Summer School 2018 on “Small and medium-sized cities: New deal, new ways of dialogue?” set out to fill this research gap. It was organised in cooperation with the Department of Geography and Regional Planning at the University of Lille and took place from 5 to 8 September 2018 in Lille (France).

The summer school started with a public opening ceremony: Dr Izabella Mironowicz from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology gave a public lecture on narratives of small and medium sized cities, asking whether the reports of the death of small and medium-sized towns were greatly exaggerated.


On the following days, the summer school participants discussed conceptual and methodological questions as well as empirical research on the spatial planning and development strategies of small and medium-sized cities. Professor Rainer Danielzyk (ARL) and Professor Didier Paris (University of Lille) guided through an intensive and inspiring programme filled with keynote lectures, student presentations and a field trip to Dunkerque. The doctoral students gave insight into their dissertation projects, which addressed challenges as well as new approaches to solving problems in small and medium-sized cities located North African, Pakistan, Poland, France and Germany. As keynote speakers, Professor Didier Paris, Professor Christophe Demazière (University of Tours) and Dr Olivier Sykes (University of Liverpool) spoke about imaginaries and realities, challenges and policy options of small and medium-sized cities in France, England and Germany. Professor Sabine Baumgart (ARL) and Professor Peter Dehne (University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg) addressed questions of redevelopment and change management with a focus on actors, governance and participation.

The field trip to Dunkerque illustrated how cities can seize development opportunities. As part of a revitalisation strategy, the city has used structural and design approaches and has invested in commerce and in local and regional transportation.


The participants said that the ARL International Summer School 2018 was a great experience that facilitated intensive exchange. Moreover, the heterogeneous group was able to provide helpful feedback on the individual dissertation projects and thus foster the participants’ research.