MSc Specialisation: Urban Environment and Climate Change

Loss of biodiversity and natural resources, along with impacts from natural hazards and climate-induced disasters, all negatively affect the productivity of cities and the wellbeing of citizens while, at the same time, contributing to major global environmental challenges and climate-related problems.

Designing pathways to a climate resilient and environmentally sustainable development has become a key goal and principle for policy action at global and local levels. An important shift has also taken place in urban environmental management: from a hierarchical ‘law and enforcement’ model via the economic incentive approach to multi-stakeholder partnerships driving policy-making processes. From international organizations and networks to national and local governments, civil society and the business sector, it is now widely recognized that understanding sustainability and climate resilient development and integrating their principles and methods into everyday practice is vital for the environmental, economic, and social welfare of any urban society. This situation calls for city managers who understand that good urban management can have a role in reducing major local and global challenges related to environment and climate change.

The Urban Environment and Climate Change (URBEC) specialization builds the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed for local climate and environmental planning and management. From situational analysis and agenda setting to the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of local policies and actions, the specialization gives the participants the opportunity to understand the most recent trends, developments, and challenges related to urban environmental sustainability and climate change in contemporary cities. Participants will also learn some of the key analytical frameworks and methods that can be used to analyze these trends and challenges and inform present and future urban planning and local government policies and agendas.

Some of the key concepts covered by the specialization are urban governance, urban form, ecosystem services, climate resilience, climate change mitigation and adaptation, circular economy, and integrated sustainability policy and planning. Overall, URBEC showcases which theories and concepts explain the actions and strategies of different actors and institutions dealing with socio-environmental challenges and provide hands-on tools and methodologies to evaluate and finance different environmental and climate strategies.  

Since urban environmental and climate change management is a multifaceted topic, professionals under URBEC have different academic and professional backgrounds and diverse expertise and competencies.

ECTS: 15

Duration: 9 weeks

Lecturers: Alberto Gianoli, Elena Marie Ensenado, Jen Heemann, Spyridon Stavropoulos, Alexandra Tsatsou, Luca D’Acci, Veronica Olivotto

Teaching Methodology

Assessment Methods

Individual assessment (60% of course grade)

  1. Presentation (10%)
  • Presentation: During the first part of the course, every student prepares a presentation of 15 minutes of one of the research articles given at the beginning of the course.
  • Presentations are done in pairs or individually
  • The student presents the article as if s/he is one of the authors
  • Other students: read, prepare questions (at least two), answer questions that will be discussed in class
  1. Closed book multiple choice exams. (50%) (Individual work)

Group assessment (40% of course grade)

Workshop (group work)

  • A group project counting for 40% of the debate grade

Student Testimonial

“Joining this specialization with its interactive classes was a truly rewarding experience. It emphasizes the importance of climate change adaptation and mitigation practices as well as sustainable development, environmental theory and environmental management systems.” – Emina Ahmetovic, Bosnia and Herzegowina, master’s student, 2013-2014

Urban Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change