Oslo, Norway

Global Urban Policy Mobilities

online course
when 28 June 2021 - 2 July 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 8 EC
fee NOK 4000

How are we to understand the making of urban policy in a globalizing world?

In what ways do policies emerge in one place and then appear and reappear in other locations? What happens to policies as they travel between places? Who is involved in the construction of “best practice” examples and what do they reveal about the uneven power geographies of policy-making? It is to answering these questions, and related others, that a new sub-field of urban studies has emerged over the last two decades. This lies at the intersection of, on the one hand, the re-thinking of notions of place along relational lines, and, on the other, the re-thinking of what an attention to the city in the at and the making-up of urban policy. “[U]rban policy mobility studies”, as Jacobs (2012: 418) terms this work, is one strand to a broader approach centred on a relational urban geographical scholarship. It takes aim at traditional accounts of urban policy and politics. It is argued that this earlier work tended to privilege proximate relations over those from further afar. This is not surprising. Bringing into view more novel geographies of urban policy-making, however, involves not just leaving city hall – as those working on issues of governance have long argued – but also leaving the city itself. In addition, urban policy mobility studies junk the positivist/rationalist-formalist work on policy transfer, and replace it with a post- positivist /-rationalist-constructive approach. It argues that the former rests on rather narrow typologies, is insufficiently sensitive to the socially produced nature of geographical scale and underplays the extent to which policies are constituted through movement.

This course historicizes the emergence of this new sub-field of global urban policy mobilities. It introduces and discusses its intellectual origins, from across anthropology, human geography, political science, planning and sociology, before setting out its central features. The methodological consequences of understanding the making of urban policy in a global-urban context is explored before the course turns to particular case studies. These exemplify both how policies emerge, travel and appear and reappear in places, and the range of methods that have been used to study the phenomenon. It concludes by thinking through what the future of this sub-field might be in a COVID- 19 urban world.

Course leader

Professor Kevin Ward, Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, UK

Target group

PhD students, graduate or postgraduate student or professional from any social science field of study or related disciplines.

Course aim

By the end of the course, successful students should be able to:

Understand and explain the emergence of the global urban policy mobilities field;
Understand and explain the various methods that have been used to study global urban policy mobilites;
Illustrate arguments with examples and empirical case studies from around the world

Fee info

NOK 4000: The participation fee includes:
Covering of expenses towards administration and honorarium for lecturers.


Oslo Summer School for Social Sciences does not have any grants or scholarships. All costs in relation to participation in our courses must be paid by participants themselves, or by their institution.