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Urban Transition Management

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Maraya Bien

In this module, we introduce the transition management approach for urban areas as we have researched and applied it in five different cities in Europe: Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Ludwigsburg in Germany, Ghent in Belgium and Aberdeen in UK as well as in Port Vila in Vanuatu, Pacific Islands and in Honduras. We adopted a process approach to co--‐ create with policy entrepreneurs and society's frontrunners strategic agendas and transition pathways to foster transformative change in negotiated domains employing tacit and expert knowledge in a co--‐creation process. The module will use the case examples to guide novice researchers to a process--‐content thinking and to reflect on how to navigate societal complexity while mobilizing innovative and transformative societal potential towards action for sustainability.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the complexity of urban sustainability transitions
  2. Develop an analytical understanding and ability to diagnose persistent problems of unsustainability in cities
  3. Build competence and knowledge to set-up an urban transition management process for agenda building towards urban sustainability
  4. Engage with multidisciplinary (interdisciplinary and trans disciplinary) knowledge to set-up an urban transition management process for agenda building towards urban sustainability governance

Expected Outcomes

  1. Describe the basic principles of sustainability-transitions-thinking and approach and apply them to urban cases.
  2. Analyze persistent problems by applying the sustainability transitions concepts and analytical tools
  3. Communicate effectively ones understanding of an urban problem and potential of strategies for tackling it in real-life situations
  4. Organize and facilitate integrative and strategic UTM processes for agenda building towards urban sustainability
  5. Be able to find and select stakeholders for UTM processes across areas of expertise, society, science and policy/planning
  6. Be open to learn and integrate new insights and knowledge with colleagues about urban sustainability
  7. Apply a heuristic transition management framework to be able to make pragmatic decisions in a context of complexity and uncertainty
  8. Be able to make ‘glocal’ connections between local urban challenges and broader global/national/regional macro developments
  9. Engage with other professionals, scientists and civil society ethically and effectively 

To access the other lectures, lecturers' notes and instructions, exercise, and case study, contact Dr. Niki Frantzeskaki at

Universities that are/have been part of co-funded projects by the Erasmus Mundus Programme are eligible to have full access to the module.

Creative Commons

All SUSTAIN materials are subject to the basic terms and conditions in accordance with the Creative Commons license agreement. Users should give credit to the SUSTAIN Project as well as to the module developer. Furthermore, users are not allowed to use any module material for commercial purposes without permission from the SUSTAIN Project and module developer.