Cities shape our future. They serve as cradles for progressive ideas and both technical and social innovations. They keep significant and cultural symbols and represent economic wealth. Due to the innovative potential and their fast-growing digital spheres, cities embody the idea of a new era of prosperity.

At the same time, cities are currently facing the world’s major challenges: housing shortage, traffic density, air pollution, climate change, structural vulnerability and growing social inequality. Around the globe, severe ecological and social problems become visible in cities as if magnified through a burning glass, often accelerated by the urban mode of living. This calls for examining cities as major entry points for a transformation towards a more liveable and sustainable future.

Against this backdrop, the Opening Week 2020 entitled „Future::Cities” focuses on this area of tension. Leuphana University heartly invites you as freshmen and -women to take a closer look at both chances and challenges of current and future cities. More than 30 topics will be analysed: What makes a city sustainable? How do cities deal with the effects of climate change? How can urban health systems cope with crises such as the corona pandemic? In which way do social movements such as “Recht auf Stadt” and “Fridays for Future” influence the development of cities?

Four hashtags give the OPENING WEEK a content orientation, over 30 project topics await you. You can find out more about the Academics that will supervise your project work here.


  • Urban Workscapes: Entanglements between Urban and Work Spaces Now and In The Future (Boukje Cnossen)
  • Governing Cities in the Future (Tobias Lenz)
  • Urban Utopia: Civil Society for the Sustainable City (Volker Kirchberg)
  • How to address inequalities in cities? (Norman Laws)
  • Community Organization (Philipp Sandermann)
  • How can we participate at local sustainability transformations? (Esther Meyer)
  • Cities as drivers of and challenges to democratization (Michael Koß)
  • Songs of Struggle: Fighting for Democracy in the Philippines (Monika Schoop)


  • Urban Intercultural Remembrance (Steffi Hobuß)
  • City Vibes Going Viral (Ursula Kirschner)
  • “The Revolution will be Televised” – Mediated Urban Protest (Christoph Brunner)
  • Beyond the generational order of the city: Childhood and the street as a “moral area” (Lars Alberth)
  • Feminist Perspectives on Urbanity - Visibility of women in work (Anke Karber)
  • DiverCity - sociocultural urban life (Katharina Lehmann)
  • Cities–Between Pluralism and Inter-Religious Communities (Barbara Hanusa and Carsten Card-Hyatt)
  • Music Cities - Between Historical Fact, Image and the Pandemic (Robin Kuchar)


  • Recycling and reuse of food waste (Daniel Pleissner)
  • Sustainable Consumption in Urban Spaces (Steffen Pabst)
  • Future cities: from concrete Jungles to nature playgrounds (David Abson)
  • The Law Garage: Designing Legislation for Car-Free Cities (Jelena Bäumler)
  • Valuation of Nature in the Urban Spaces (Katharina Sevecke)
  • The decarbonized City of the Future (Daniel Lang)
  • Cultivating urban spaces of possibilities (Sacha Kagan)
  • Copenhagenize Lüneburg! - Radverkehr barrierefrei gestalten (Peter Pez)


  • Future made in cities: Regional clustering of entrepreneurship (Katharina Scheidgen)
  • Data Literacy for Future Cities (Johannes van Deest)
  • Digital Self in Urban Space (Andreas Bernard)
  • The Media City: The Past and Present of Cities of the Future (Jan Müggenburg)
  • Toward the Future City: Enabling Participation and Inclusion in the Construction and Realization of the City to Come (Matthias Wenzel)
  • The Outsmarted City: Media and Infrastructures for the Living City (Sebastian Vehlken)
  • Computing the City (Armin Beverungen)

Keyterm Sheets


Democracy – or its absence - affects life in cities in manifold ways. On the level of state politics we currently witness the rise of authoritarian regimes and a dissolution of democracy on an almost global scale. The streets of urban centers become important spaces of mobilization and expression of dissent. Historically, cities have often been portrayed as central to the development of democracy. But are cities really democratic spaces? How participatory are cities today? Who owns the “right to the city”? Whose voices are heard and whose are silenced in envisioning and building cities of the future?

Urban Workscapes: Entanglements between Urban and Work Spaces Now and In The Future (Boukje Cnossen)

At the core of this project is the question how work and the city are, and will be, entangled. Because of mobile technologies and other forms of increased mobility, cities have become playgrounds for work practices. People send e-mails from their smartphones while travelling, hold meetings in cafes, or work from their laptops in public spaces. As a result, the city becomes a landscape for work: a workscape. How can cities foster different ways of working? How do these ways of working interest with practices of care, consumption, and leisure? Who is included and excluded in the different ways work is afforded by urban and suburban infrastructures? These are the questions we will ask ourselves in the context of this project. 

Governing Cities in the Future (Tobias Lenz)

Cities are densely populated places of human settlement in which members work mainly on non-agricultural tasks. They tend to be at the cutting edge of many important global developments, such as digitalization, environmental degradation and social change. Today about half of the world’s population lives in cities, and their importance is rapidly growing further. In this group, we will think about how the governance of cities should be organized in the future. What should a useful governance structure of a modern city look like? What principles should it follow? And how can democracy be realized in this context? 

Urban Utopia: Civil Society for the Sustainable City (Volker Kirchberg)

The aim of the project is to understand how urban spaces of possibilities for sustainable development are created and how they can be made effective through cooperation, innovation, mutual references and communication. This is not an abstract topic but should aim to have a direct impact on urban spaces and their civil society initiatives and organizations. The theoretical basis for this project is primarily Erik Olin Wright's treatise on Real Utopias. This model of thought is also a critical reflection of the late capitalist and neoliberal city. For this reason, the project will also deal with further (artistic) alternatives by David Harvey (Rebel City/ Right to the City) and Volker Kirchberg et al. (Stadt als Möglichkeitsraum).

How to address inequalities in cities? (Norman Laws)

Social inequalities and injustices are still growing problems for cities. People better off and people less well off are living in the same cities – but yet in entirely different worlds. While some people enjoy their enormous, maybe even grotesque riches, other face deprivation and precarious living conditions.  What does that mean for the development of cities? What does it mean for the quality of life in cities? And what are possibilities to overcome and protest these inequalities? 

Community Organization (Philipp Sandermann)

Community organization aims at identifying needs, acting, and, through this process, developing collaborative attitudes and practices within a city's community. Today, professionalized models of state-funded community organization are globally commonplace. (see, e.g., Germany's "Neighborhood Management" system that is widely funded by the accountable federal ministry) Against the historical background of community organization from the 1900's on, there are reasons to critically ask for the socio-political contexts of the concept's "career" in order to develop a better understanding of how today's cities have been and might be organized for a better future.

How can we participate at local sustainability transformations? (Esther Meyer)

A current sustainability dilemma lies between the strategies by municipal institutions to implement the sustainability goals as quickly as possible, with the greatest possible political participation that the SDGs demand equally. Inequalities in political participation reinforce the dilemma. Transformative methodologies of research and learning make those inequalities visible, take a critical look at them, and allow for taking collective responsibility on a local level.

Cities as drivers of and challenges to democratization (Michael Koß)

This course aims to analyze the ambivalent role of cities in the process of democratization. On the one hand, cities are the places where demand for participation in and more inclusive politics crystalizes. On the other hand, especially conservatives regard cities as chronically instable. As a consequence, cities at the same time create demand for and prevent consent to democracy. We will assess this ambivalent role in a largely historical perspective and discuss the conclusions to be drawn for our age. 

Songs of Struggle: Fighting for Democracy in the Philippines (Monika Schoop)

Democracy is under attack in the Philippines. Rodrigo Duterte's "War against Drugs" has resulted in thousands of killings, political opponents have been arrested, and critical media outlets have been closed down. In many ways COVID-19 has served as a catalyst to the dissolution of democracy. On July 3, a new "Anti-Terrorism Act" was signed into law, which grants excessive power to the government, and threatens to suppress even peaceful dissent. These developments are met with growing resistance from the Philippine music scene. More and more artists speak up and collaborate on songs that fight for human rights and democracy.


The coexistence of people with different social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and their attitudes towards religion and sexual orientation creates a remarkable diversity in the city. Again and again, minorities call on the urban society to treat them with equal rights and appreciation in everyday life. Currently, for example, we are seeing "Black lives Matter" demonstrations or parades on Christopher Street Day all over the world. While in the course of history public squares have symbolised the power of rulers or institutions, today in our society they are places of encounter, celebration but also demonstration. The "right to the city" as a "right not to be excluded" was demanded by the urban sociologist Lefebvre in the 1960s, in order to invite everyone, especially the marginalised groups from the banlieus, to appropriate public space and public life. Today, graffiti and stickers with the message "City for All" have long been a feature of the cityscape in some cities. 

Diversity does not only mean respecting the differences of people and their life plans, but also recognising commonalities. People are diverse, they can have different ethnic origins or religions, they change in the course of their lives, they can be lesbians and mothers and have physical impairments.

Who are minorities in the urban context, where do they appear, how do they shape the space and how can we facilitate peaceful social coexistence? Questions of our civil, urban urban society.

Urban Intercultural Remembrance (Steffi Hobuß)

Cities are full of historical places, such as monuments or significant buildings. What does this mean for urban intercultural remembrance? Memory is never a private matter, but always follows a social framework and is always negotiated, often conflictful or even violent. The material provided gives a brief introduction to the basics of memory studies and some examples of cities in intercultural contexts. The participants are encouraged to contribute their own examples from their home towns.

City Vibes Going Viral (Ursula Kirschner)

Let us talk about new ideas to make cities liveable. Imagine - around 20 percent of the ground in the city belongs to the city for infrastructure, when we reduce the number of cars in the city centers, how should we make use of the roads and the parking facilities? Imagine - many office buildings will be unused as more and more people are working in home offices – can we use these spaces for common living? Imagine - we have to get used to live with shutdowns, how should flats change in a way that people can stay more relaxed at home, how can we provide better conditions for people who need help? Imagine – cornern, party going in clubs, festivals and other events have to stop for a long time, what kind of alternatives could be provided for young people? 

“The Revolution will be Televised” – Mediated Urban Protest (Christoph Brunner)

This project engages with the mediated perception of urban forms of protest in the age of networked societies. If the famous slogan “the revolution will not be televised” meant to get people out on the street and away from mainstream television with its consumerist agenda and mostly White aesthetics (at least in the US where the slogan emerged in the 1960s), today no protest happens without a deep engagement with networked media. Networked media are part and parcel of how forms of urban protest are perceived – both for organizing as much as witnessing, documenting and narrating these events. Looking at different modes of perceiving events of embodied urban protest through media, the project challenges our sense of what constitutes an urban sphere and its potential for a politics in the streets. 

Beyond the generational order of the city: Childhood and the street as a “moral area” (Lars Alberth)

Modern Western childhood was institutionalized via the separation of children from adults. Children are mainly excluded from public spaces (e.g., the streets, shops, cafés, bars, etc.) and subjected to spaces specifically designed by adults (kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, educational and leisure programs, etc.). This corresponds with their everyday marginalization as political subjects and holders of rights. From observing and dissecting the street as a “moral region” (Park), the project teams are challenged to develop a vision of the city as child-centered and beyond generational separations.

Feminist Perspectives on Urbanity - Visibility of women in work (Anke Karber)

Opportunities in the career and life of women are still unequally distributed. The project therefore examines the question of womens visibilty in public today, especially in the cityscape. Particular attention is paid to the choice of professions and jobs. In this way, social conditions and the construct "women's professions" (Frauenberufe) are critically analyzed.

DiverCity - sociocultural urban life (Katharina Lehmann)

The project deals with different forms of urban life and especially focuses on minority groups. How do they experience the urban ambience, up to which extent discrimination and a lack of integration and inclusion affects them?

With small applied exercises students will examine the urban way of life minorities are confronted to and explore ideas and possible solutions, either on the irban planning as well as on the conceptual side of a cultural studies perspective.

Cities–Between Pluralism and Inter-Religious Communities (Barbara Hanusa and Carsten Card-Hyatt)

Cities always tend towards a kind of pluralism. But this pluralism is often passive: people live alongside others of different lands and faiths, but not with them in a community. Yet to be an inter-religious city is not a passive state, but one that requires action: the intentional interaction of people with different religious commitments. How such interaction can come about and what sorts of interactions will lead to fruitful contact between religious communities are both difficult questions. But the basic question for the cities of the future is: how can they move from being passively pluralistic to places that foster inter-religious communities? 

Music Cities - Between Historical Fact, Image and the Pandemic (Robin Kuchar)

Music Cities are contested. Hamburg, Vienna and Liverpool claim to be Music Cities, so Markneukirchen, Klingenthal and Trossingen do. Maybe you are also from a Music City and even do not know about... So, to be a Music City seems to correspond to a certain kind of trend. But: Can a city be musical it self at all? What are these cities basing on - their musical heritage, their meaning for music culture or just the idea of being attractive to tourists and certain kind of local newbies? In this project, you will critically approach the concept of music cities - basing on the knowledge you gather in the lectures and the discussions and materials you will have during the starting week. As the topic in general focuses on the future of cities, we surely should integrate at least some thoughts about the impact of the pandemic - especially reffering to the sphere of concerts and live music, what is an essential aspect of the understanding of Music Cities...


Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. To address this challenge decarbonization is key. In this regards cities are particularly relevant– on the one hand side because they are the places where many of the relevant activities responsible for greenhouse gas-emissions take place and on the other hand side because they are also hubs for the development of and experimentation with creative solutions paving the way for a decarbonized society. So the crucial question is – how do decarbonized, green, resilient and sustainable cities look like in specific contexts that also foster the well-being of everybody.  

Recycling and reuse of food waste (Daniel Pleissner)

The necessity to carry out a proper utilization of food waste is underlined by the amounts of resources needed for food production, processing and transport. A considerable fraction of food waste is energetically used, which is basically a wasting of resources. Food waste should be avoided in the first instance. If this is not possible, reused. And if a reuse is not possible, recycled in to recover nutrients urgently needed in agriculture. But what possibilities exist in urban areas to reuse and recycle food waste? What is missing in terms of infrastructure, technology and social behavior?  

Sustainable Consumption in Urban Spaces (Steffen Pabst)

Today, it is estimated that more than 56% of the human population lives in urban spaces. This number will be growing even more in the upcoming years, with large consequences for our civilization and the global environment. It is therefore therefore important to work out innovative solutions for the growing urban consumption demands. In this project week, we want to work together and learn about existing solutions and ideas and eventually create out own.

Future cities: from concrete Jungles to nature playgrounds (David Abson)

It has been argued that ‘the extinction of experience’ (Pyle, 1993) — the reduced interaction with nature of increasingly urbanized populations — leads to lack of concern for nature, which in turn leads to further degradation of nature and less opportunities to interact with nature in a reinforcing feedback loop that is a root cause of unsustainability. In addition urban interactions with nature has been linked to, reduced stress, increased psychological and physical well-being and even increased IQ scores for children. In this project, students will seek to identify meaningful pathways to reconnecting urban populations to nature. These pathways should focus not only on the end goal, but on the transdisciplinary processes of transformative change required to achieve that goal.

The Law Garage: Designing Legislation for Car-Free Cities (Jelena Bäumler)

Today, our cities are congested with cars taking up space when driving and parking, posing dangers to pedestrians and cyclists and harming human health with toxic emissions. Yet, the space is increasingly reclaimed and calls for car-free cities have been on the rise in recent years. In Futurburg, a small city in the northern part of Germany, a revolution is underway: thriving towards a car-free city, different ideas float around that could effectively achieve the goal of less individual motorised traffic in Futurburg. However, as in all ventures to bring about change, different options and opinions, needs, desires, rights and obligations need to be considered, weighed and balanced.  Designing a law that is in accordance with our constitution and changing the future for the better is thus the challenge of the week!

Valuation of Nature in the Urban Spaces (Katharina Sevecke)

The physical environment we live in significantly influences our well-being and shapes our lives. I invite you to explore the various ways to express the importance nature in urban spaces has for us and want to raise awareness for plural ways to look at nature valuation.

The decarbonized City of the Future (Daniel Lang)

Besides the fact that cities substantially contribute to global sustainability challenges, particularly climate change, cities are also incubators for innovative ideas and actions to address these challenges. Correspondingly, inspiring sustainability initiatives and solution options have emerged in cities across the globe. Often these initiative are rather small scale and context specific. Thus a promising way forward is to investigate how the impact of these initiatives/solution options can be scaled through amplifying within, amplifying out or amplifying beyond (Lam et al. 2020). In this research project students will first identify innovative sustainability initiatives/solution options around the globe or in Lüneburg. In a next step they will select one amplifying process as outlined by Lam et al. (2020) and develop a vision how the impact of a selected initiative/solution option can be stabilized, speeded up or grown in Lüneburg or how it can be replicated, transferred or spread to Lüneburg. It is also possible to elaborate how the initiative/solution could be scaled up or scaled deep. Finally, the students should try to embed the vision in the larger Reallabor Lüneburg 2030+ and its real-world experiments.

Cultivating urban spaces of possibilities (Sacha Kagan)

“Spaces of Possibilities” signify physical, social and mental spaces where possible futures are emerging. But how are alternative futures developed, designed and already made tangible, experienced though projects and actions, visible in everyday life? A few examples by creative practitioners in a German city will be provided, showing how imagination, experimentation and creative cooperation among urban actors draw up the contours of a participative sustainable urban development. Reflecting on the qualities of these urban spaces of possibilities, the students will be invited to both look for hints of such qualities in some urban everyday spaces around them (thereby producing visionary perspectives) and identify hindrances that may squander these qualities (producing critical perspectives).

Copenhagenize Lüneburg! - Radverkehr barrierefrei gestalten (Peter Pez)

In dem Projekt werden mittels Feldrecherche und Erstellung von Mängelmeldeblättern innerhalb von Lüneburg planungsrelevante Informationen zur Umsetzung von Barrierefreiheit im Radverkehr gesammelt. Anschließend sollen die Erfahrungen im Lichte der Grundlagelektüre, des Startwochenthemas und den Eindrücken der Studierenden von ihrem Heimatort reflektiert werden. Am Ende wird aus den Feldaufnahmen und der Reflexion ein visionäres Video produziert. (Deutschsprachige Gruppe)


Digitalisation is materialising in the everyday life of the city. Let us think, for example, of the topic of mobility, where digital technologies play a central role for the citizen: with the help of smartphones, numerous mobility services can be consumed - from booking a public transport ticket or a car sharing offer. Also in daily navigation (e.g. how do I get from A and B?) or orientation (e.g. how good is restaurant X?) many people use smartphones and the corresponding apps. Within this hashtag we are dealing with the possibilities of digital technologies in organising the city ( of the future). In our examination of digitality, we see the embedding of technologies as a socially negotiated process. Digital technologies can therefore enable urban utopias as well as dystopias.

Future made in cities: Regional clustering of entrepreneurship (Katharina Scheidgen)

No doubt, Silicon Valley is one of the world’s leading hubs for technological innovation. Despite the myth of a solitary genius tinkering in her garage, such innovations are only possible if diverse actors work together in manifold ways. Not only entrepreneurs cluster in regions like Silicon Valley, London or Paris, but also investors, research universities, skilled work forces, mentors, and co-working spaces, creating a dynamic setting for future made in cities. What consequences, challenges and opportunities arise for entrepreneurship—making future in cities—and for the future of these cities?

Data Literacy for Future Cities (Johannes van Deest)

Nowadays, cities and their governments are faced with multiple challenges, often regarding the use of technology as an enabler, to tackle urban problems. However, if technology is seen as the enabler that can solve problems and move cities into a better future, it is the people that must bring power to the movement. In this project, we'll have a look at data literacy - the competence to critically collect, manage and use data - and its importance for engaging with urban technologies, exercising digital agency and tackling local urban challenges. You'll develop bottom-up approaches to smart cities that place citizens in an active role of contributing, analyzing and interpreting data with the aim of building a more sustainable future city.

Digital Self in Urban Space (Andreas Bernard)

This project will concentrate on modes of subjectivity and personal experiences in contemporary urban spaces. The urban self in the 20th century is, of course, a digital self. Area-wide WiFi surroundings and ubiquitous mini computers (smartphones) provide the conditions that living in the city today means living a permanently connected life, and the project will focus on the implications of this connectivity. 

Questions that will be asked and developed together are, among others:
- Where do you recognize digital technology in daily urban life, as explicit techniques and implicit infrastructures?
- How tight is the access to urban life today linked to digital technology?
- Do you consider digital technology rather as a promoter or a blocker of urban life?
- Which options are there to escape from ubiquitous connectivity in contemporary cities?

The Media City: The Past and Present of Cities of the Future (Jan Müggenburg)

In this project we will deal with the many ways of how our digital devices are interconnected with urban processes and contribute to the transformation of the city. Mobile devices and ›smart‹ technologies not only shape our experience of urban spaces and contexts but largely influence what our cities are and will be. In order to better understand the transformative effect that our devices have on our city, we will use five analytical terms: ›smartification‹, ›automation‹, ›command‹, ›mediation‹ and ›play‹.

Toward the Future City: Enabling Participation and Inclusion in the Construction and Realization of the City to Come (Matthias Wenzel)

In order for visions of the future city to be materialized, they must be broadly developed and shared within the local population. But how can vast parts of the population be mobilized to participate in this process? In this project, students develop concepts and ideas that enable participation and inclusion in the construction and realization of visions of the future city.

The Outsmarted City: Media and Infrastructures for the Living City (Sebastian Vehlken)

In recent years, concepts of urban transformation have mostly been discussed under the term Smart City. Model cities interspersed with digital infrastructures and sensor systems, such as Songdo in South Korea, functioned as dazzling promises of an efficient, safe and comfortable urban future. But doubts are growing about such technology-driven designs. Our project is dedicated to alternative concepts of participatory urban development, such as those that appear in Carlos Moreno's account of the Living City. Beyond the cybernetic control fantasies of the Smart City, but also far removed from anti-technology advancements, questions arise about more ‘intelligent’ media applications and architectural settings for functioning and lively neighborhoods.

Computing the City (Armin Beverungen)

So-called »smart cities« promise solutions to all sorts of problems that we face in the city, from traffic flows to sustainability. Yet this »tech solutionism« often ignores the complexities of social, cultural and political life in cities. How can we still use computing to improve future cities? And what other kinds of intelligences, apart from the »smartness« that computers promise, do we need? The project group will look at a few select issues to discuss these questions, with a particular focus on participation and power.

Keyterm Sheets


In the project work during the Opening Week, you develop a visionary video as a group – you thus present your vision in a video. But what exactly characterises a vision for the project work? And how do I begin visioning? In the following, you will find criteria for such a vision, which you can discuss with your group. By working along these criteria and through your continuous revision, you will be able to develop a “good” vision during Opening Week. 


The following guide to the appropriate exercise of critique in a university context has been developed specifi cally for your project work in the Opening Week. It sets out four steps for a critical approach to material in work with your group.

Questioning Mind

During Opening Week, you work together in a team on your project. To take on the project work as a questioning Mind can be helpful in many respects. In the following, you will fi nd small exercises as well as questions that can help you to have good team understanding – particularly when you do not know each other well.

Cooperative Mind

Your project work during the opening week represents a playing field to try out the cooperative Mind: You will work with students from various disciplines towards a common goal. The quality of cooperation depends on the level of motivation of those involved in terms of the topic, the task in hand and collaboration. This interdependence also works in the opposite direction: Good cooperation can motivate. In the following, you will find tools which will make it easier for you to cooperate as a project group in a diverse team.