(23-09-2022) Interested in working around urban sustainability? Are you looking for an inter- and transdisciplinary context to develop your research and teaching activities? Then let us introduce you to the Stadsacademie.

The Stadsacademie was founded in 2018 by Prof. Thomas Block from the Center for Sustainable Development, together with Prof. Michiel Dehaene from the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning. The main starting point of the Stadsacademie is to offer a context for transdisciplinary research and education on urban sustainability issues in the context of Ghent. More and more, we are confronted with complex sustainability issues such as climate change, increasing poverty and social inequality, biodiversity loss, migration, diversity and an ageing population. These issues not only require new ways of knowledge production, but they also challenge our traditional educational system. Consequently, there is an increasing emphasis on educational practices and experiments focusing on transdisciplinary problem framing, a pluralistic search for solutions and active collaboration with various stakeholders throughout society.

In short, our way of working is based on 5 core principles

1.       Acknowledging the ‘wickedness’ of sustainability issues
Knowledge on the issue is often incomplete or uncertain, different interpretations of the issue are possible, imaginaries of the future may differ, etc.

2.       Answers or solutions tend to be context-specific

Therefore, what better way to focus on ‘real world’ problems than the city we study, work and live in: Ghent. By diving into concrete issues of our own city, we hope to contribute to dealing with sustainability issues perceived in the City of Ghent.

3.       Transdisciplinarity
Ghent University and the City of Ghent (but also other urban stakeholders) are committed to develop structural cooperation on urban sustainability. Knowledge and experience of all stakeholders are used together. The Stadsacademie concentrates on (re)framing problems, defining new research questions, searching for innovative pathways, building future scenarios, developing experiments, etc.

4.       Embracing serendipity
All trajectories have an exploratory character in which we keep the questions open and do not fix the outcomes. The serendipity lies in the hope that, without a specific and predefined search, we will find interesting and possibly unexpected angles and solutions.

5.       Creating synergy between education, research and societal services.
Combining the above principles within an educational setting is quite unique. The non-hierarchical Stadsacademie functions as a safe space for students, people working for the city and researchers, where there is openness and respect for each other's perspectives.

Thematically, there are 9 on-going trajectories (or broad sustainability themes) we focus on: Circular building; Living Lab campus Sterre; Inequality in mobility and accessibility; Space for agriculture in the city; Space for care; Between city and campus; Renewal of urban renewal; Food democracy; Housing in diversity. On our website, you can continue reading on the approach of each of the trajectory and the specific activities that have been organized within each trajectory


The cornerstone of the trajectories: Master Thesis Ateliers

In a Master Thesis Atelier (Masterproefatelier) 4 to 8 master students and their supervisors from different disciplinary backgrounds, and urban stakeholders collaborate to concentrate on one specific sustainability issue and collaborate with non-academic actors aiming to explore and to impact upon that issue. Each Master Thesis Atelier is embedded in a trajectory (see 1 of the 9 themes), and by doing so, is embedded in a process that is broader than the scope of one academic year, with a network of people who build up knowledge throughout the trajectory. It is fascinating to see that in the Stadsacademie actors learn to recognize their own blind spots in their search for sustainable pathways and understand that their acquired knowledge is context-specific.


Interested? There are different ways to get involved

We are always looking for colleagues to get involved (however small the engagement is) in the Stadsacademie.

Master thesis ateliers

Within the master thesis ateliers (MTA’s) you can supervise a master or bachelor thesis student, participate in a workshop to share your expertise, … Currently, we are looking to include expertise from our department (i.e. political perspective) in the following MTA’s:

·       The MTA on food democracy focuses this academic year on food poverty and food aid in the city of Ghent.

·       The MTA on circular building focuses on the potential and the governance of rebuilding 'Blok B' at UZ Gent.

·       The MTA on disparity on mobility will organize a series of lunch talks this academic year, while preparing an MTA for


Lunchtalks on transdisciplinarity (and other activities outside the scope of the trajectories)

This academic year, we plan a series of Lunchtalks with “transdisciplinarity” as central theme. The purpose? To learn together, from experience and theory, about transdisciplinarity. Everybody is welcome to join the talks (for free), food and drinks are provided.

Our first lunchtalk “Participatory (action) research” is planned for November 17th (12.30 - 14.00) @Green Hub

Check the calendar on our website for all other upcoming activities!


More information? ; Charlotte.Prové ; ;