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Co-creating Urban Futures: Citizen Participation in Local Governance

Learn more about the challenges and opportunities in advancing democratic urban futures

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CIVIS focus area
Cities, territories and mobilities
Open to
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Environmental sciences, Urbanism, Geography
Course dates
18 October 2023- 13 December 2023

Cities have a significant role to play in advancing democracy and citizenship. In an urban world, cities are both home and local political context for most people. As centres of social life, economy and resource use, cities are also key sites for dealing with global challenges like climate change. Citizen “co-creation” is an important means of opening-up multi-directional, horizontal dialogues and decision-making processes between government and civil society. But it necessitates experimentation and institutional change, which can be difficult for local governments because of rigid structures and a lack of resources. There are also concerns over the extent to which citizens can genuinely influence government. Hence critical engagement with local concepts and practices of ‘co-creation’ is necessary to identify challenges and ways forward.

The module develops comparative and interdisciplinary knowledge of co-creation in local government and examines its potential to address urban challenges. The international (Brussels, Bucharest, Glasgow, Rome, Tübingen) and interdisciplinary background of staff and students (Political Science, Geography, Planning, Urban Design and Urban Studies) will help develop multi-faceted, comparative insights. Learning will occur in blended formats including online roundtables with participating staff and students and a 5-day meeting in Rome incorporating in-person learning activities.

Main topics addressed

  • Co-creation and co-production in urban governance
  • Democracy and urban contexts
  • Power, planning and policy making
  • Global urban challenges

Learning outcomes

Students will enhance their knowledge and skills as described below:

  • A critical understanding of co-creation in urban futures
  • Local and comparative knowledge of recent experiences in cities
  • Skills of engaging with government and the public
  • Experience of collaborative learning
Dates: 18 October 2023- 13 December 2023 Language: English (Β2)
Location: Rome, Italy ECTS: 3*
Format: Blended Workload: 90 hours

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 20 to 24 November 2023 in Rome.

Teaching staff and students come together in the city of Rome to learn together. The five days of intensive learning experiences focus on the transfer of theoretical approaches to co-creation into more practical exercises, applications, and discussions. The particular empirical focus will be governance in peripheral urban neighbourhoods in Rome. Teaching staff will give teaching input and lead smaller working groups dedicated to deepening the learning experiences. These include:

a) drawing lessons from interdisciplinary theoretical approaches and to problematize them in terms of practicability b) experimenting with existing tools and techniques for organizing participatory problem solving
c) conducting interviews with participants of co-creation projects to gather insight in their experiences and to identify strengths and shortcomings of such collaborative processes
d) meeting stakeholders from governments, administrations and civil society, and learn about their interests, needs, and recommendations for co-creating urban futures
e) participating in excursions to ‘best’ and ‘worst’ practice examples

Virtual part

The virtual part will be running from 18 October 2023 to 13 December 2023.

All sessions include lectures, groupwork and discussions with students.

Time: 17.00-19.00 CET

  • 18 October: In the first session, the main aims and objectives of the course will be introduced and discussed with the students.
  • 25 October: In the second session, teaching staff from the participating universities will present their perspectives on “global urban challenges”.
  • 8 November: The third session is dedicated to the main concepts of “co-creation”, their normative foundations and role within politics.
  • 15 November: The fourth session aims at establishing the interrelatedness of “power, planning and policy making”.  
  • 13 December: This final session offers a review and summarizes the results of the onsite course and considers way to fill the online repository with content.


This course is open to Master (who hold a Bachelor degree) and PhD students at CIVIS member universities enrolled in the following fields of study: Politics, Sociology, Geography, Urban studies, Urban design, Urban planning, or any other fields related.

A level B2 in English is also required and a genuine interest in urban politics, planning and policy is also desirable.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Interested students should apply by filling in the online application form by 30 September 2023. 

Students will be selected based on the following criteria: 

  • CV
  • Level of English language competence (B2) 
  • Level of academic achievement
  • Suitability of academic background

Apply here


In order to receive the certificate of attendance and the 3 ECTS credits related to this course, students are required to undertake the following activities:

  • Students will conduct group presentations on a problem of co-production (e.g. equal access to knowledge resources) at the end of the 5 day meeting (50%). The group presentation will be given in mixed groups (from different universities) developing collaborative as well as analytical and presentations skills.

  • Students will also conduct an individual project on a case study in their own country. This part of the assignment (50%) will take the form of podcasts, videos, or written reports and be made available on the Hub. This individual assignment will be submitted online at the end of the course in January 2023.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Dr Ross Beveridge is Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Carlo Cellamare is Full Professor in Town Planning at Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy), Director of the Laboratory of Urban Studies “Dwelling Territories”.

Dr Catalina Dobre is lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Dr Giuseppe Faldi is lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Dr Rolf Frankenberger is a Senior lecturer in the Institute for Research on Far Right Extremism at the University of Tübingen.

Athanasios Gavrilidis is a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Regional Geography and Environment at the University of Bucharest.

Dr Annette Hastings is Professor of Urban Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow where she is also Director of Research for the Urban Studies department.

Dr Cristian Ioja is Professor of Geography in the Department of Regional Geography and Environment, University of Bucharest.

Dr Luisa Moretto is Full Professor at the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Dr Serena Olcuire is a lecturer and researcher at the department of Town Planning at Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy).

Dr Mihai Razvan Nita is Associate Professor at the University of Bucharest and head of Department of Regional Geography and Environment.