Researching Urban Resilience & Planning II

Resonance of Urban Resilience in the Ruhr Region

Summary Post  by Robin Chang

Following up on an excursion and workshop in March 2017 with members from F01 Project Resilient Cities: Risks, repercussions and Realities for Resilience Planning in Metro Vancouver, a second workshop was hosted on campus from June 26th to 27th. In a format that mirrored the initial visit to Canada, this second workshop received visitors from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and served as the bookend to a cross-cultural exchange between German and Canadian partners.

While the Canadian guests designed their own two-week excursion to learn about urban climate resilience in the Rhein-Ruhr region, TU Dortmund students along with Nadine Maegdefrau from IRPUD and myself coordinated a concluding event to learn from local and regional experts about the relevance of resilience. A social barbecue concluded the event and also celebrated Canada Day which with a guest lecture from another Canuck – Dr. Bryon Miller from the University of Calgary. The Canadian finally was hosted in cooperation with Dr. Samuel Moessner (University of Münster), Dr. Ludger Basten (TU Dortmund) and sponsored by the Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries (GKS).

With continued collaboration with our colleague Dr. Meg Holden from Simon Fraser University (SFU), the event introduced over 40 participants to the conceptual development and practical challenges associated with Urban Resilience. TU Dortmund students also further integrated pod-wise elearning and experiential learning initiated in January 2017. The event was open to faculty staff and students outside of the student project, and included guest speakers from the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) and the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (ILS). Also included were professionals from the municipalities of Dortmund, Essen, and Dinslaken, along with the Regional Association Ruhr (RVR), and the Emschergenossenschaft (EGLV).

The workshop included local excursions, conceptual and creative writing exercises that facilitated interactive discussions about perceptions and interpretations of transformation associated with resilience in the German context. Expert panel discussions were followed by presentations from researchers and students about current status of resilience initiatives and also comparative commentary from Canadian eyes.

Support and Cooperation with GKS and University of Münster

In addition to workshop with other scholars and students for the project and workshop, Dr. Ludger Basten as a faculty representative of GKS and Dr. Samuel Moessner facilitated the invitation of Dr. Byron Miller, who narrated socio-political developments from the city of Calgary in the context of sustainability as a critical counterpoint to increasing attention on resilience. Videos of the panels and presentations from the workshop and guest lecture are being processed to share with all interested viewers, and will be available by the end of November. The public lecture was followed by a Canada Day barbecue sponsored by GKS. For the funding support and cooperation, we are extremely grateful to GKS, and the Institute of Geography at the University of Münster!

Outlook and Future Collaboration

As an outcome of the workshop, multiple publications are in process and include students as original authors. Moreover, dissemination has already began with F01 students presenting their own work at the 2017 ICLEI Resilience Cities Congress in Bonn, and plans to continuing student-scholar collaboration by presenting at the 2018 Dortmunder Conference. A professional report is also in process to share research and learning findings with event partners and collaborators.

To conclude, student participants reflected on their experiences:

“The two-day workshop off and on-site of TU Dortmund was a very unique experience for me. I have never been to an international workshop like this before (nor has the majority of the Canadian field school students I was with, let alone had the opportunity to present at one), and I found the cross-cultural dialogue valuable in terms of my conceptualization of urban resilience and how I can make sense of its implementation in both Canada and what I witnessed during our field excursions in the Ruhrgebiet.” – Rebecca Gunderson, SFU student and participant

“I experienced the international workshop on urban resilience in Dortmund as an exceptional benefit to my academic as well as personal development. To my mind workshops like this represent one of the most effective learning methods because their learning processes are always embedded in own-initiative participation. I did not have to remind myself consciously to focus on the topic but I felt rather the urge to soak in the presented information and give my feedback on it, i.e. interact with the participants on the content. Especially for me, it was insightful to ask several experts at once whether resilience benefits from crises and that it is therefore a concept that suffers from this sporadic attention.” –  Dimitri Ravin, TU Dortmund student and participant

Collaborating on applied learning and research between Simon Fraser University and TU Dortmund.

Introduction from Dr. Meg Holden (SFU) and comparative commentary that she along with her students collected during their excursion in the Rhein-Ruhr region.

Site visit with Die Urbanisten near the HSP site, during which local challenges with transformation were introduced and discussed.

Guest speaker Dr. Byron Miller shares anecdotes from urban development in Calgary.

Closing the workshop, participants relaxed and enjoyed a barbecue in anticipation of Canada Day on July 1st. This year was particularly special as it was also the 150th birthday for the nation.


The opportunity to organize, coordinate, and participating in our workshop would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of many people. Naturally, we would like to thank all the institutions and individuals (in alphabetical order) who made our learning experience and event possible:

Alexander Selbach (City of Dinslaken), Anne Budinger (RVR), Byron Miller (University of Calgary), Dagmar Wolsing (City of Essen), Eva Gehrmann (TU Dortmund), Gérard Hutter (IOER), Jan Polivka (TU Dortmund), Julia Sattler (TU Dortmund), Karsten Zimmermann (TU Dortmund), Ludger Basten (TU Dortmund), Mario Sommerhaeuser (EGLV), Martin Schulwitz (ILS), Meg Holden (Simon Fraser University), Michael Leischner (City of Dortmund), Samuel Moessner (University of Muenster), Svenja Noltemeyer (Die Urbanisten), and naturally the TU Dortmund/SFU students invovled!

Lastly, we are deeply grateful to Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries (GKS) and the Gesellschaft der Freunde der TU Dortmund e.V. (GDF) for their generous financial support of our of our event.

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