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Urban Futures Lab 2016: Switzerland, United Arab Emirates & California


Urban Futures Workshop 2016 IR

Programme Outline

Organizers & Hosts of the Living Lab

  • Dr. Alexandre Hedjazi, Lecturer, UNIGE Institute of Environmental Sciences and Deputy Director GEPP of the UNIGE – UNEP Global Environment Policy Program.
  • Dr. Leobardo Estrada, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, School of Public Affair at UCLA.
  • UAE: Masdar Institute of Science and Technology
  • California: UCLA
  • Ms. Ashley Pilipiszyn, Teaching Assistant, University of Geneva (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Objectives of Workshop

The Urban Futures Lab deals with processes by which cities switch from current urban development practices to sustainable planning in the context of environmental degradation, demographic shift, scarcity of natural resources, vulnerability of ecosystems and rescaling of governance. New challenges to develop a sustainable planning model are numerous - from data collection to policy formulation and implementation, environmental assessments, public involvement and innovative strategies require real-world problem solving.

In this context, the Urban Futures Lab introduces participants to selected global urban hotspots and their local solutions (Geneva, Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles) based on a series of lectures and site visits. The lab has an explicit multidisciplinary approach in examining political, economic, social and environmental issues and approaches to sustainability. The main objective of the course is to map some of existing major sustainability challenges through a transversal multi-city reading of urban development in 21st century and develop a portfolio of solutions. The final goal of this living lab is to present different visions of sustainability and urban development beyond clichés of improbable or accomplished sustainability.

Taking place in Geneva, the UAE and California, the Urban Futures Lab 2016 is a joint endeavor of University of Geneva and UCLA organized around six main themes:


  • Sustainability education and awareness
  • Urban sustainability governance
  • Demographic and sociological shifts
  • Connecting big data to policy
  • Urban resilience, vulnerabilities and risks
  • Dynamic land use and design patterns


 Urban Worshop RI


The Partnership

Building on the strengths of institutions in Switzerland, the United States and the United Arab Emirates this program is formulated around distinct learning practices. Students will be immersed in different local case studies in each site related to particular sustainability contexts and give them the opportunity to interact with decision makers.


This workshop is worth 6 ECTS.

Final Grade will be composed of the following:

  • Active participation in group discussions (15%)
  • Data collection & carbon footprint tracking via Noisetube and Oroeco apps (20%)
  • Week 1 Abu Dhabi Research Portfolio (upload to Public Lab Platform) (10%)
  • Week 2 Geneva Research Portfolio (upload to Public Lab Platform) (10%)
  • Week 3 Los Angeles Research Portfolio (upload to Public Lab Platform) (10%)
  • Final Presentation to be held at Uni-Carl-Vogt: Case Analysis between Geneva, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles in data-driven decision-making & nature-based solutions (35%)



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