An Urban Approach to Spain and Europe

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

Course Description

  • Course Name

    An Urban Approach to Spain and Europe

  • Host University

    Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Economics, Sociology, Urban Studies and Planning

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    European cities are today in a crossroad: They present opportunities and threats for the 300 million Europeans that live in them. Cities are economic engines of Europe (think of London, Brussels, Frankfurt), they are cultural and heritage centers (Venice, Rome, Vienna) and areas of creativity and innovation (Berlin, Helsinki, Barcelona). However, cities are also highly polluted and contribute to pollution (80% of carbon emissions are generated in cities), have the most expensive living standards or are places where social conflicts are more present. This course will show you how European cities (and those who live, work or do politics there) are facing the above mentioned challenges, and how they are trying to position themselves in an increasingly competitive environment to attract the best business, people or visitors, specially facing the increasing competition from third world megacities.

    You will be introduced to the basic concepts of urban economy and sociology and to the most recent policies being developed in different European cities to deal with issues as sustainable development, smart cities growth, urban competitiveness or urban regeneration. This course will give you tools to analyze urban complexity, tools that urban managers, city officials and even private companies increasingly appreciate today.

    The course combines theoretical and more practical sessions, presenting case studies of different European and Spanish cities. Field studies are organized as well.



    - Fluent in English

    - Interest in urban issues



    1 - Introduction

         1.1 The urban reality in Europe and Spain: Europe as a global urban region

         1.2 Urban economy and sociology: notions to set the debate: urban culture, urban economy and urban society

    2 - Urbanization in a global world:

         2.1 Causes and consequences of the increasing world urbanization.

         2.2 The new urban order: the lost of economic relevance of western cities. The emerging megacities.

         2.3 Global cities and nodal regions

    3 - The urban space

         3.1 Theories of urban growth

         3.2 Urban sprawl and metropolitan growth in European cities

         3.3 The different users of the urban space: Planning for increasingly complex metropolitan areas

    4 - Urban competitiveness and management for different types of urban regions:

         4.1 Urban government: Main institutions and policies

         4.2 Urban economy: General theory of location. The competitive advantage of cities. The role of city governments in urban economic                 growth.

         4.3 New challenges for urban management in Europe: climate change, sustainable development, smart technologies,

    5 - Spanish cities in the European urban context
             o Are Spanish cities European cities?
             o The European Union policies as a tool for urban growth: How has Europe helped Spanish cities? The recent economic crisis and its consequences in European and Spanish cities
             o The social dimension of cities

         5.1 Cities as places of contestation

         5.2 Cities as places of exclusion

         5.3 Cities as places of diversity and creativity

Course Disclaimer

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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