The Master in Urban Studies is jointly organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). As one of the strongest urban studies programmes in Europe, we draw on academic staff from various departments and research groups at both universities.
æ-LAB: æ-LAB is the research laboratory of the department of Architectural Engineering at the VUB (VUB-ARCH). The research within æ-LAB is focused on "the use of engineering tools to create architecture". This approach is applied on three topics that ask for interdisciplinary studies: the design of lightweight structures, renovation and re-use, and the incorporation of transformations.
Master in Urban Studies courses: 'Architectural and Construction History pre 1850' (Inge Bertels) and 'Theoretical Reflections on Monument Care' (Inge Bertels).
Art Studies and Archaeology (SKAR): The Department of Art Studies and Archaeology (SKAR) at the VUB is an interdisciplinary team that carries out research on art and material culture, studied as transitional cultural 'objects' with material characteristics and invested with immaterial values. Cultural 'objects' ranging from paleolithic tools to early-modern architectural treatises and from conceptual art to cultural landscapes come about, transform, disappear or survive in changing worlds. They change as their contemporary contextual relevance shifts. SKAR studies the cultural biographies of artistic and material culture, the heritage values accorded to it, and its negotiation with society by cultural brokers. Skar studies transitional cultural 'objects' from four main perspectives: 1. Heritage production and technology in (art) historical and archeological perspective (e.g. excavation and analysis of glassware, pottery, metals, but also the changing models for cultural infrastructure); 2. Image-making and imagination: artisthood and society; 3. Interactions in space and time: past and present exchange of cultural objects and ideas in and between cities and regions, global art world(s); and 4. The contemporary position of heritage workers, curators and academics as brokers in cultural objects: fundamental and policy-oriented research.
Master in Urban Studies course: 'Urban Archeology' (Dries Tys).
Building, Architecture & Town Planning (BATir): BATir is a unique multidisciplinary and comprehensive engineering department at the ULB with research on the built environment, from soils and rocks to materials and structures, from architecture to sustainable urbanism; with modelling, experimental and/or design perspectives. It comprises five research units dedicated to Architectural engineering, Town planning, Civil engineering, Geomechanics, and Computational mechanics.
Master in Urban Studies course: 'Urban Sustainability and Circular Economy' (Ahmed Khan), 'Infrastructure and Mobility' (Philippe Bouillard).
Centre for Information, Documentation and Research on Brussels (BRIO): BRIO is a research centre at the VUB that produces knowledge on Brussels and its periphery through interdisciplinary fundamental and policy supporting scientific research. It thereby focuses on 4 major research topics: 1) Language Policy and Integration; 2) Diversity in Society; 3) Politics and Administration; 4) Comparative Research on Divided and Multilingual Cities.
Master in Urban Studies course: 'Global City-Region Brussels' (Joost Vaesen).
Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research: The Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research is a research centre within the Department of Geography of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and is dedicated to research and teaching in geography, spatial planning and urban design. Committed to pursuing both academic and practice relevant research, Cosmopolis actively engages policy makers, governments, citizen networks and other urban partners to transform knowledge into action. The group gradually established itself as an interdisciplinary research group analysing urbanity, processes of ‘glocalisation’ (globalisation and localisation) and the relationship between urban space, society and culture. Over the last fifteen years, Cosmopolis has continuously grown in size and is now an established centre of urban research situated in the heart of Europe.
Master in Urban Studies courses: 'Geographies of a Globalizing Europe' (Bas van Heur), 'Urban Social Geography' (David Bassens), 'Urban Analysis I' (Eva Swyngedouw), 'Excursion I and II' (Bas van Heur), 'Thesis Seminar' (David Bassens), 'Economic and Financial Geography' (David Bassens), 'Knowledge Economy and the City' (Bas van Heur), 'Land Use Planning and Growth Management' (Kobe Boussauw), 'Theory of Urban Planning and Design' (Michael Ryckewaert), 'Case Studies in Urban Planning and Design' (Michael Ryckewaert), 'Design Studio I and II' (Fabio Vanin), 'Internship' (Bas van Heur).
Crime & Society (CRiS): The Research Group Crime and Society (CRiS) builds on more than 30 years of research expertise in critical analysis of the social phenomena of crime and deviance and of the formal and informal reactions to these phenomena. Over the years, four main research areas developed: penology; youth justice studies; security, prevention and policing; and crime and the city. In 2013, a common Research Programme was established: 'Crossing Borders: Crime, Culture and Control'. It aims at integrating the expertise of the different research domains into one single research team and research plan, focusing on our common constructionist, critical, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to crime and crime control as social phenomena.
Master in Urban Studies courses: 'Introduction to Criminology' (Jenneke Christiaens) and 'Crime and the City' (Els Enhus, Lucas Melgaço).
Historical Research into Urban Transformation Processes (HOST): Urban history is a broad and dynamic research area in which scholars from very diverse disciplines can encounter and inspire one another. At the same time, it is an area of research that can be explored and implemented in many different ways. In HOST the focus lies with European cities in the early modern period and long nineteenth century, with special attention for the role of cities as catalysts for processes of economic innovation, social exclusion/integration, and political-institutional change.
Master in Urban Studies courses: 'Urban History' (Anne Winter and Wouter Rykbosch), 'Urbanization in the Early Modern Period' (Heidi Deneweth).
Institut de Gestion de l'Environnement et d'Aménagement du Territoire (IGEAT): The Institute for Environmental Management and Land-use Planning deals with interdisciplinary research in the areas of the environment, spatial and regional planning, and tourism. From 2015, the institute is part of the new Department of Geosciences, Environment and Society at the ULB. IGEAT comprises 5 interdisciplinary research units composed of 11 full-time academics and about fifty researchers and PhD students working on fundamental research or on public- or private-funded applied contracts. Research carried out within the institute encompasses various themes including urban change, geospatial analysis, transport policies, regional surveys, environmental impacts, socio-political aspects of sustainable development, climate and energy policies, as well as interactions between tourism, territorial and social dynamics. IGEAT is characterised by a strong interdisciplinary research perspective, offering a holistic and critical vision of urban, social, economic, cultural and environmental issues.
Master in Urban Studies course: 'Urban Economic Geography' (Mathieu Van Criekingen), 'Geographies of a Globalizing Europe' (Gilles Van Hamme), 'Urban Analysis II' (Corentin Debailleul and Mathieu Van Criekingen), and 'Urban Sociology' (Eva Swyngedouw).
Laboratory on Urbanism, Infrastructures and Ecologies (LOUIsE): LOUIsE is associated to the Faculty of Architecture of the ULB. Research produced by its members is oriented towards knowledge, understanding and comparison of the transformation dynamics of metropolitan territories. These dimensions are mainly investigated through observation, critical analysis, and the design of urban and landscaping projects. They are developed within the context of the Brussels metropolitan region, but also in Belgium and in other European case studies (Barcelona, Veneto…), Asia (Tokyo, Shangai...) or in sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Congo…). In this way, research and expertise in LoUIsE focus on big metropolises (Tokyo, Kinshasha) as well as one million-inhabitants cities (Brussels, Kigali), medium-sized (Charleroi, Ishinomaki) and emerging cities (Amdework).
Master in Urban Studies course: 'Design Studio Space Speculation' (Nadia Casabella).
Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centre (MOBI): MOBI is leader in electromobility and socio-economic evaluations for sustainable mobility and logistics. Socio-Economic: MOBI is defining the state-of-the-art in socio-economic evaluations. Methods and models are developed and then translated into practical tools that are tailor made for the transport sector. Examples of key contributions include a geographic information system enabling simulations for the intermodal transport sector (LAMBIT), a policy analysis tool involving stakeholders at early stage (MAMCA), or a specific external costs calculator for transport activities (ECC). Over the years, the centre gained a strong expertise in city logistics, intermodal transport, and transport users behaviour, and has proven track records on traffic safety and road accident analysis. Technology: From a technological perspective, the centre has a leading position in electromobility, thanks to its experience of over 40 years in electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles R&D. The centre possesses state-of-the-art infrastructure and models for the testing, development and design of components - batteries, supercapacitors, power converters -, vehicle power trains, and inductive and conductive charging infrastructure. Simulation techniques have been developed to define energy-efficient and low-emission power control strategies in hybrid propulsion systems. It offers a unique LCA methodology for the entire automotive sector to analyse the environmental, economical and societal impacts caused by the development and implementation of new vehicle technologies, components, materials and policy measures. MOBI has an international reputation in the field of Electric Vehicles Standardization, and is involved in several standardization commissions. A Multidisciplinary team with key assets: The strength of MOBI resides in proposing a unique combination of socio-economical, environmental & technical competencies, together with tools specifically developed for the sustainable logistics, electric and hybrid vehicles, and sustainable mobility.
Master in Urban Studies course: Sustainable Mobility and Logistics (Cathy Macharis, Joeri Van Mierlo).