Teaching Urban Activism - A retrospective view through the lens of critical-democratic engagement

Activity: Talk or presentationConference presentation


As noted in the latest IPCC reports, human activity and our fraught relationship with the planet are the root causes of the climate emergency. These reports were not shy in elucidating the role of the built environment in exacerbating this emergency, nor in revealing the importance of politicizing climate change, building different levels of democracy, and engaging different (political) actors to bring about “transformative pathways” to mitigate its effects. Within this context, the academic community must reflect on what and how to teach, learn, and research and ponder on what is the purpose of higher education, its broader societal (and political) role, and what kinds of partnerships it should construct. In this paper, we discuss these issues and, building on theories of critical-democratic engagement and activist pedagogies, we reflect on the interdisciplinary course of Urban Activism we taught from March to May 2021 at Tampere University. The course followed five cases unfolding in the city of Tampere and aimed 1) to build an understanding of each case through activists’ narratives and students’ fieldwork and 2) to stimulate critical analysis of the sustainable transformation of urban space as well as the political agency and creativity that can drive it. In the process, however, the course became a space where students and teachers alike became engaged in active citizenship, constructing partnerships with urban activists with whom we continue to build the potential to mobilise change and construct more sustainable and democratic urban environments.
Period21 Oct 2022
Event titleATUT 2022 - 14th annual symposium of architectural research: Making (a)mends
Event typeConference
Conference number14
LocationTampere, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational