Urban development by collaboration and giving students a new role in shaping their city: case CityStudio Oslo
Jennifer Vallee is the project Manager at CityStudio Oslo (University of Oslo)
CityStudio is creates space for students to lead their own city shaping initiatives. CityStudio was founded in Vancouver and CityStudio Oslo is the first European one. They give academic students the chance to become practitioners and local change makers. CityStudio offers a full-time hands-on university course in collaboration with partnering institutions in Oslo.
Their work is guided by the core belief that connections matter: we all need to work together, across sectors, disciplines and actors, in order to frame, face, and act on complex challenges.
CityStudio Vancouver, the first one that started the movement, has been brought as an innovative and successful initiative that transforms citymaking (read here). Some factors that have made Oslo successful include their focus on positioning students as key catalysts in the city, and working with many partners and disciplines.
“The fact that we are doing a job for bymiljøetaten makes the project feel important.” – Student
“[I learnt] the value of having a group of people with different academic background discussing openly and with curiosity ask all kinds of questions. That forced us to think differently about certain issues.” – City of Oslo Staff Member
“I find it more valuable and important than ever to share knowledge and skills across disciplines and sectors in order to collaboratively solve today’s wicked problems. CityStudio Oslo does that and thus contributes to what our today’s world needs.” – Private Sector Guest
Stakeholders are essential to the CityStudio model – the course content is co-taught by partnering universities and supported by the City of Oslo. City Staff and private sector guests visit the studio multiple times a week to share experiences with the students. In total, multiple local institutions, organisations or businesses directly engaged in delivering the course in 2019. Indirect stakeholder engagement also occurs. For example, the students form their own projects within the course that all engage stakeholders.
Creating a city
Those working with CityStudio’s course see CityStudio Oslo as a value creating initiative for the City of Oslo. Students are connecting deeply in the local communities through their projects. (These conclude in December 2019, so stay tuned.)
Truly working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way is hard work. Some of the lessons CityStudio can share with others includes insights about how to work together and why it matters. Jennifer believes that everyone, individuals and organisations, should take the initiative to add skills to their repertoire that generate their capacity to work deeply with others.
Jennifer will talk about how city development needs collaboration and what new role students should take in every city.