Urban Economic Development and Resilience

Course introduction

The course covers the areas of urban economic development and resilience from a theoretical as well as an applied point of view. In the field of economic development, theories on regional economic competition and competitiveness will be introduced and winners and losers of regional competition discussed. In the field of resilience, students will be exposed to the topics of evolutionary economics, economic transitions and innovation, and placed-based economic development policies. There will be special attention to the economic impacts of sustainable development, infrastructural development, restructuring labour markets, structural change, innovation, urban and regional planning, and international trade and FDI relations. 
Each topic will be covered by a lecture followed by workshops where students will discuss concepts and theories in small-scale groups and to translate these into practical applications, working together with their peers. The objective of Module 1 is to gain comprehensive theoretical knowledge in the fields of economic development and resilience, to be able to critically identify and evaluate local and global issues within urban economies, as well as to tackle these by providing workable solutions.   

Course objectives

The overall aim of the course is to gain insights into the fundamental urban and regional economic processes that explain economic development and resilience, and to develop the ability to analyse and govern these processes in practice.  
More specifically we defined the following objectives:

  • Reproduce and interpret theories that deal with urban and regional economic development and resilience.  
  • Apply theories, concepts and analytical research methods from contemporary literature to practical examples.  
  • Apply economic and geographical reasoning to analyse economic development and governance on various spatial scales: from countries to regions to neighbourhoods to households and individuals (micro-level, meso-level and macro-level analyses).
  • Identify criteria for urban and regional economic analysis using quantitative data analysis methods for evaluation. 

Course content

Week 1: Introduction to Urban and Regional Economics 
This lecture introduces students to the academic and policy debate on regional and urban competitiveness and resilience, using an overview of agglomeration economies and urban and regional development. 
Week 2:  Regional Economic Competition and Competitiveness 
The concept of revealed competitiveness in terms of overlap in trade and foreign direct investment attraction is explained. This will be applied to the case of Brexit and its impact on European regions
Week 3: Winners and Losers in Regional Economic Competition
Regional economic competition and competitiveness also lead to inequality. This lecture introduces students to the debate that explicitly presents this dilemma in the light of recent regional-economic development. 
Week 4: Evolutionary Economics: Never Waste a Good Crisis
This session first discusses path dependence as a lock-in, followed by a discussion on urban policies and strategies to change towards resilient and sustainable economies. The strategies include urban innovation systems, learning regions, urban climate change policies and a circular or doughnut economy.
Week 5: Economic Transitions and Innovations
The lecture first discusses theory and then presents how North Rhine Westphalia changed from polluting coal industries to a green economy. 
Week 6: Place-Based Economic Development Policies
In this lecture, we focus on place-based policy strategies and discuss under what circumstances such practical governance initiatives are useful in developed and developing countries.
Week 7: Final Lecture 

Course information


Urban Management and Development


Block 3




Beatriz Calzada Olvera 




Lectures, individual and group work exercises, workshops, self-study


Essay and workshop participation

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