ARL International Summer School 2020: Smart cities and beyond – Call for Applications

In recent years, “smart cities” has become a hegemonic concept in urban discourses, referring ei-ther 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.


  • Prof. Guy Baeten, PhD – Professor of Urban Studies at Malmö University and Director of the Insti-tute for Urban Research, Malmö, Sweden
  • Assoc. Prof. Andrew Karvonen, PhD – Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies in the Division of Urban and Regional Studies at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Priv.-Doz. Dr. Bastian Lange – Lecturer at Leipzig University and founder of Multiplicities – Office for Spatial Development and Urban Planning, Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Agnieszka Leszczynski – Assistant Professor in Geography at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stijn Oosterlynck – Associate Professor in Urban Sociology at the University of Antwerp and Chair of the Centre for Research on Environmental and Social Change (CRESC) and the Antwerp Urban Studies Institute, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Prof. Dr. Liesbet Van Zoonen – Professor of Sociology and Dean of the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The German Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung, ARL) is an independent non-university institution and one of the prime addresses in Europe for research and advice on sustainable spatial development. It consists of a network of non-paid academics and practitioners who participate in temporary working groups on the regional, national, and international levels. The ARL is a think tank for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation between research and practice on all important spatial issues. It is particularly committed to the exchange and dissemination of knowledge. Support for young researchers and practitioners is well-established at the ARL. The ARL is a member of the German Leibniz Association.

Research and teaching in the domains of geography and planning at the University of Luxembourg take place in the Department of Geography and Spatial Planning, part of the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. Established in April 2006, the Department comprises a 45-person strong team, including professors, guest professors, junior and senior researchers, and doctoral students. Its research focusses on areas such as environmental economic geography, political geography, urban studies and planning, architecture, and geographical information systems (GIS).

The Department has also strong links to practice. It hosts the National Contact points for ESPON and the European Migration Network (EMN). It is the seat of the GR Atlas and participates in the Faculty‘s Key Area of “Migration and Inclusive Society” and is active member of the Centre for Border Studies of the UniGR (the University of the Greater Region). In terms of teaching, it runs a Master in Geography & Spatial Planning, a Master in Border Studies, and a Master in Architecture. The Department also offers the certificate program “Formation Continue en Aménagement du Territoire”, that certifies future planners in Luxembourg.

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.

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. The ARL sponsors the accommodation and travel costs of all participants. A participation fee will not be charged. As academic institutions, the organizers encourage scientific publications and aim to compile an edited volume on the theme of the summer school. Participants should be willing and prepared to discuss their paper drafts during the summer school and to develop their papers afterwards.

Your application should include a motivation letter (max. 1 page), a short CV, and a short description of the project that you are going to present (max. 1 page). Please submit your application by 2 March 2020.

Email applications are particularly welcome (compiled in one PDF file). Please send your application to

Postal address:
Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung (ARL)
Insa Thimm
Vahrenwalder Straße 247
30179 Hannover, Germany

You will receive a notification of acceptance by the beginning of April 2020. For further questions, please contact Insa Thimm,, Phone +49 511 34842-31.

We look forward to receiving your application!