Researching The City Projects

This Erasmus+ project of researching the cities and mapping imaginaries was developed through 3 PILOTS. Each PILOT corresponded to anacademic semester during which different groups of students ran investigations on their own peripheral neighbourhoods and shared the findings with students from other cities to find common ground, ways of understanding better, finding coincidences, similarities and differences. They collected data, shared insights in their intercity group meetings, and created collaborative content in different formats, and developed proposals to connect, discover or relate their places. 

It was truly a joined effort. In total 315 students participated in the three pilots, over 20 lecturers and 10 city partners. 

This section illustrates the process of research and creation done by the students. 

The development of ways and tools for collaboration that the lecturers introduced in every new pilot is also  interesting to note.  The first two pilots were badly affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, which made the collaboration very different than initially intended and completely online.  Only in the last pilot could some students travel for international gatherings and visit the neighbourhoods they were researching together.

The project started with a PILOT 1, during the second semester of the academic year 2020 -21 with students from four cities involved:

Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisboa and Paris. Vienna participants were observing.

PILOT 2 enjoyed the participation of students from all 5 cities involved in the project, during the first semester of the academic year 2021 and 2022.

Finally, PILOT 3 was held during the second semester of the academic year 2021-22. Students from Amsterdam, Lisboa and Barcelona could participate and even travel.

The end of COVID restrictions allowed students from Amsterdam and Barcelona to visit other cities for the first time.

Covid-19 presented challenges as well as opportunities. We pride ourselves on our agility, keeping on track, making changes in planning, and introducing new online methods of teaching and presenting. 

The assessor of the interim report of our project recognized that: “this project could be an example when it comes to adapting to new circumstances and changing the activities to a more virtual way of working with online sessions and online activities”. 

A benefit of working online was that more lecturers could attend and more students could participate. Working online made for more inclusive international cooperation.

*The challenge in PILOT 1 was to organize online meetings for over 200 students during the launch, midterm conference, and final congress. Colleagues of the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa did an amazing job organizing many breakout rooms and teams. Students held impressive online presentations. 

Students’ focus was better during PILOT 1 compared to PILOT 3. We suspect this had to do with the lockdown during PILOT 1 and the fact that during PILOT 3 there was more distraction in non-curriculum-related activities. 

The launch event in PILOT 3 was hybrid as students from Amsterdam traveled to Barcelona. This did not work. The sense of time is different between the two groups. The online group is waiting for something to happen while students in the live group were talking together and did not connect with the online group. 

So for the final congress in PILOT 3 in Amsterdam, students and lecturers decided that everyone went online, also the groups from Barcelona and Amsterdam who were live in Amsterdam.