The study track will begin with a full year in Trondheim, Norway, at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The second year of the study track (including the master’s thesis) will be completed either in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, or in Helsinki, Finland, at the Department of Architecture, in a new School combining the creative disciplines of architecture, design, media and arts at Aalto University.
First year: at NTNU, the study track is truly international in its contents and student recruitment and participation and is initially rooted in the Urban South. The study environment is intense through the initial field-work based course. The students explore communal strength, the nature of the civil society, resource base and land relations in dense and transforming neighbourhoods in the Urban South. How can spatial, environmental and livelihood improvements be sustained? This is the initial field based project course with additional ‘knowledge subjects’ on urban ecological theory and method.
The students form a ‘real team’ in addressing local issues and opportunities. The international students from developing countries are resource persons with rich, diverse cultural backgrounds and experience from densely populated urban environments. The Nordic and European students bring their societal context of welfare state, local governance and environmental challenges of urban centres. The ‘third world cities’ within European cities contribute to an increasing multicultural society.
Furthermore, the second semester starts with research method course, Preparation for Field Work for Master students, where the research project for the master thesis will be drafted, presented for peer reviews and assessed. During the spring there is another obligatory course on Urban Ecological Planning in Diverse Cultures on theory, The elective subjects are on GIS in Urban Planning, Globalisation and Urban Development and Planning for Disaster Recovery and Prevention.
The summer is reserved for field work for the master thesis, which in most cases will be in the urban south, or on localised or comparative issues between the South and the Nordic countries. The autumn semester will focus on additional knowledge subjects at Aalto or Chalmers, and the students will in seminar form present their field work study and findings. The supervisory team for the master thesis will be established before the summer fieldwork. During the last spring semester, full concentration will be on the master thesis.
Second year: Landscape architecture, planning and engineering students continue their studies at Chalmers where they will develop an understanding of the Urban Ecology approach by addressing equity, environmental sustainability and civil society engagement in a Nordic setting of social exclusion, urban poverty and attempts for urban renewal, and with a focus on citizen empowerment and participation.
Architecture students will continue their studies at Aalto University where they will develop an interdisciplinary and creative understanding by addressing the key issues of urban ecology through laboratory work and selected studies from the university’s six Schools. They will be working in a new School combining the creative disciplines (architecture, urban design, urban and regional planning, design, media, and arts), but they will also have access to a variety of courses offered by the four Schools of Technology and the School of Economics. The core of their studies will be the Urban Laboratory, where they will address a selected contemporary issue related to urban ecology either in the Nordic or Southern context (such as segregation, multiculturalism, migration, post-disaster development, etc.), coupled with potential field studies and courses in urban and regional studies. The Laboratory continues during the second semester to support the writing of the Master’s Thesis. Common seminars with the supervising team from will be arranged.
Thesis Semester: The thesis will be developed during the final semester of the second year. For their fourth semester thesis work, students can choose between a) continuing Urban Ecology in the Nordic setting through field studies in Sweden (Calmers) or Finland (Aalto) or b) returning to the South perspective supported by the international networks of all three universities. Examiners, tutors and critics from the first year and second year universities will take part in the guidance, supervision and approval of the thesis. The examiner will come from the second year university, however tutors and critics will be selected from both or either university to best suit the student’s needs in developing the chosen thesis topic.