Cooperation for sustainable urban transitions: What is the role for education and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences?

Bilbao, December 14-15. 2023

The third edition of the UniverCity seminar will focus on research and education aimed at democratic social change (Greenwood and Levin, 2006; Frandsen and Andersen, 2019). What is the role of research and education on the Social Sciences and the Humanities (SSH) in particular? How do research and education in the SSH help to understand and facilitate partnership and cooperation with other stakeholders? What is the contribution of research and education in the SSH to the sustainability of urban transitions? The experiences gathered for this edition of UniverCity have in common that they speak for the importance of education and research in the SSH to advance innovative solutions to societal problems. They show the contribution of research and education on the SSH to democratic social change, sustainable cooperation, and urban transitions

Venue: Bilbao AS Fabrik - Olagorta Kalea, 26. Bilbao

Cities are becoming the central node of our societal life. Their fast development has had a growing impact on government policies that encourage urban regeneration projects (European Commission, 2019; European Commission, n.d.; European Committee of the Regions, 2019; Basque Government, 2020; Bylund et al., 2022). Urban transformation processes play a critical role in our attempt to deal with the grand societal challenges of our time. Concerns focus on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of urban transitions. The sustainability of urban transitions depends, on the other hand, on the capacity of a wide array of stakeholders to cooperate. Partnership speaks about the democratic nature of urban transformation processes. Moreover, experience shows that cooperation among a wider array of stakeholders is a critical ingredient of the sustainability of societal transformations. The New European Bauhaus project, for example, defines participation as one of the three key principles of the initiative and stresses that “the participatory approach involves civil society and people of all ages and in all their diversity.” (European Commission, 2020:6).

The university has a critical role to play to make cooperation sustainable in urban transitions. The rethinking of education in relation to policies that acknowledge learning opportunities geared toward a common or collective social responsibility, both locally and worldwide, has been suggested by organizations like UNESCO (2015). Furthermore, the university has been highlighted for its role in contributing to the development of its local environment in conjunction with local authorities, social agents, and civic representatives (GUNI 2017: 53). There is also a call for quality general education that is committed to the integration of different fields of interdisciplinary learning to make a contribution to their immediate sphere (GUNI 2019: 536- 538). Moreover, universities have been required, in a reflective manner that encourages responsible innovation, to design and test experimental models (Dabars & Dwyer, 2022: 120). It is about research and education with and for the city, based on a cross-disciplinary and problem based approach (Madinabeitia et al., forthcoming; Zuberogoitia et al., forthcoming).


Aitor Zuberogoitia

Txema Egaña

Oier Imaz



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