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Revisiting the Summer School: how soft skills are making their way into urbanism

We all know we need to rethink and redesign the way we build our streets. But the real challenge is – how? How to make them accessible, livable and safe for all? How can we transition to a more human approach when we create our cities? What are the drivers of change and the accelerators of transformation?

During two weeks, and together with the Technical University of Munich and EIT Urban Mobility, we had 35 enthusiastic urban planners from around the world taking part in a Summer School addressing these questions. During the different activities, lessons and assignments, we looked at best practices, experiments and urban innovations.

Our goal, as organisers, was to tailor a holistic approach towards this challenge, as “Rethinking the Street” is not an easy objective, and certainly not one that will be tackled solely with technical expertise.

As an experienced trainer in transition management and having developed a large part of my work at El Desafío, an NGO for children and youth empowerment in Rosario, Argentina, hardly ever do I see technical solutions as the only recipe for improvement. This is a vision that, thankfully, is beginning to sink in in what we could call the “hardcore urban planning environments” and decision-making contexts for city design.

In that sense, the Summer School was refreshing, as despite the technical background of many of its participants, we could see how conversations about citizen engagement, participation, and the need for soft skills and multidisciplinary approaches in urbanism were highly attractive and engaging. The experience was refreshing and inspiring due to the diversity of the group that brought different local contexts and challenges to the table, and left me, personally, thinking about how we can improve urbanism academic courses and educational programs even more.

Mario Raimondi – Humankind Academy Director



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