Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Smart Cities and Beyond

when 7 September 2020 - 9 September 2020
language English
duration 1 week

In recent years, “smart cities” has become a hegemonic concept in urban discourses, referring either to the broad set of technologies introduced towards steering infrastructure and the intelligent use of resources, or to improving the built environment by clever planning approaches. Firms, transfer agencies and municipalities seem to be working hard on the implementation of smart metres, energy efficiency, intelligent mobility, and the like.
However, the scholarly literature on digital cities clearly demonstrates that there are externalities, uncertainties and risks associated with the hype and the rash introduction of ‘smartness’. Also, open discourses should not be confined to a narrow understanding of smart technologies. As it is yet rather unclear what these may mean in urban and regional contexts, the ARL International Summer School 2020 is particularly dedicated to discussing these questions. Our aim is to uncover the whole range of issues, potentials and risks that are associated with Smart Cities, to reconstruct related policy narratives and to link research and practice insofar as it concerns the design of robust strategies of urban and regional development.

The German Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung, ARL) realizes its International Summer School 2020 in cooperation with the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Luxembourg. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions that explore Smart Cities with a critical perspective, focusing on the relations between two major subjects of study: ‘smartness’, high-tech, Internet of Things, big data developments, infrastructure, and intellectual property on the one hand; and cities, urban regions and related governance processes and discourses on the other hand. The presentations and discussions should deliver insight into selected facets of smartness, relate these to the role they may play in/for urban and regional development, and address their consequences for spatial planning and development strategies. Specifically, we invite contributions from early career researchers whose approaches and early-stage analyses demonstrate a particular interest in:
• Applying the Smart City so far (municipal experiences),
• Planning the Smart City in spatial regards,
• Governance and policy dimensions, Smart City policy discourses,
• The role of big corporations (such as Google, Amazon, Facebook etc.),
• Smart City and the rise of platform economies,
• Historical avenues of practicing ‘new technologies’ in urban and regional development,
• Conceptual and methodological approaches to studying digital urbanism,
• Smart technologies as drivers for community based economies/collaborative endeavours,
• Urban governance and the social construction of cities.

Course leader


Prof. Guy Baeten, PhD – Professor of Urban Studies at Malmö University and Director of the Institute for Urban Research, Malmö, Sweden

Assoc. Prof. Andrew Karvonen, PhD – Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studie

Target group

The summer school takes a critical and interdisciplinary approach to the study of Smart Cities. We invite applications from advanced doctoral students with a background in geography, urban and European studies, political sciences, sociology, spatial planning, public administration, social design, and related fields. We admit up to seven participants in a competitive application process.

Course aim

Our aim is to stimulate discussion, gain insight, and develop new research questions on the topics presented at the summer school. Participants will have the opportunity to present their research and receive individual feedback from international professors and experts. In addition, keynote speeches and plenary sessions offer the opportunity to intensify the debate and develop further research ideas. Field trips and shared social activities will help bring the topic of Smart Cities to life.

Fee info

EUR 0: A participation fee will not be charged.


The ARL sponsors the accommodation and travel costs of all participants.