New Master in Urban Management to design and transform the cities of the future

What will the cities of the future be like? How will they be designed, bearing in mind that the population pyramid points towards an increasingly aging European society? If, as is predicted, 75% of the global population will be living in large cities by 2050, what will those cities be like? What will the public transport system be like? How can we plan these cities in order to meet society’s future needs and prevent inequality?

Pompeu Fabra University, through UPF Barcelona School of Management, has designed a special program, the Master in Urban Management, which aims to train innovative professionals who are able to tackle these questions and, in short, design and transform the cities of the future. The year-long program, which will be taught in English, is designed to attract students and young professionals from around the world who wish to come to Barcelona in order to explore future challenges in urban planning. With this aim in mind, the program was presented at the Smart City Expo World Congress, which is being held in Barcelona from 17 to 19 November and brings together experts from over 500 different cities around the world to discuss the issue of urban transformation on a global scale.

“Barcelona is an example and a model for many cities. This year it was awarded first place in the Juniper Global Smart City Ranking, and the students who attend this master will have the opportunity to work on real urban planning projects alongside lecturers who have an enormous amount of practical experience in smart cities and urban transformation processes”, explained Antoni Luna, a lecturer in Geography at Pompeu Fabra University.

The Master in Urban Management will adopt an openly international approach and will be taught in Barcelona during the 2016-2017 academic year on a full-time basis. The program has been designed in collaboration with Barcelona CIRCLES (Centre for Innovation and Research in Cities, Local Economy & Society), a newly created, Barcelona-based think-tank that was set up in order to promote research, knowledge and innovation with regard to cities around the world. Professionals from the think-tank will give practical classes as part of the program, alongside academics specializing in a range of different disciplines at Pompeu Fabra University.

The Master in Urban Management will also have an advisory committee comprised of internationally renowned figures from the field of urban planning, architecture and technology, such as Abha Joshi-Ghani, who works for the World Bank; Rick Bell, the director of the Department of Design and Construction for the city of New York; and the architects Vishaan Chakrabarti and Bjarke Ingels, among others. “It is a multidisciplinary master program, aimed at economists, architects, engineers, geographers, sociologists, IT specialists and other public- and private-sector professionals who wish to go further in finding innovative solutions to promote smart models of urban growth that are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable”, affirmed Luna.

The program’s work method is based on providing eminently practical experience, in which students will form multidisciplinary teams in order to find a solution to a real issue (with the help of an academic mentor and professional tutor). “Subjects will include defining key indicators to evaluate the impact of urban regeneration, using Big Data to identify new planning trends, proposing new regulations for energy self-sufficiency and exploring the importance of social innovation for improving citizen involvement in the process of urban transformation”, said Luna.

However, Pompeu Fabra University’s Master in Urban Management is designed to go beyond the creation of multidisciplinary teams, and aims to produce professionals who are able to understand and integrate concepts from the various disciplines involved (e.g. urban planning, mobility, technology, energy efficiency, economics, etc.) and assume global leadership of the paradigm change that will result from the inevitable growth of the world’s urban areas.