Ongoing projects

UniGR-CBS – European Center of Competence and Knowledge in Border Studies (UniGR-Center for Border Studies) (C. Wille, D. Marafona, B. Nienaber, M. Helfer, I. Pigeron-Piroth, E. Evrard, U. Connor, S. Parnian, R. Reuter, S. Ehrhart, N. Roelens)

PI: Christian Wille
Coordination: Denise Rodrigues Marafona
Funding: Interreg V A Greater Region
Duration: 2018-2022
The UniGR-Center for Border Studies (UniGR-CBS) is a thematic cross-border network of approximately 80 researchers within the university grouping University of the Greater Region (UniGR) conducting research on borders, their meanings and challenges. Within this project, the UniGR-CBS aims at developing harmonized research tools, embedding Border Studies in teaching, promoting the dialogue on cross-border challenges between academia and institutional actors and supporting the spatial development strategy of the Greater Region. The cross-border cooperation project runs for three years and is coordinated by the Central Office of the UniGR as lead partner. The scientific responsibility lies with the University of Luxembourg.  
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REFUGOV - The governance of reception facilities for refugees in Luxembourg: local and global perspectives (Oesch, Lemaire, Nienaber)

PI: Lucas Oesch
Coordination: Léa Lemaire
Steering committee: Birte Nienaber, Jonathan Darling (Durham University)
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2018-2021
The project deals with the governance of reception facilities for refugees (refugee camps, reception centres), with a particular focus on the role of local and municipal actors, by looking at institutional settings, governance processes, and their effects on the in/exclusion of refugees, and on refugees’ subjectivities. Going beyond categories of the global South and North, the case studies are Luxembourg and Jordan.
Over the last few years, Luxembourg has responded to an increasing number of refugees arriving by setting up temporary reception facilities. More generally, across the world, refugees are accommodated in similar infrastructures, known as either reception centres or refugee camps. These facilities, and the length of time their residents stay there, often turn into a situation of ‘permanent temporariness’, which raises questions about the integration of refugees. Are they included in, or excluded from, the state territory and its society? This project focuses on the governance of these facilities and its effects on residents’ subjectivities. It starts from two observations:
1) Even though, in many countries, facilities are located on the territories of local authorities, the latter are often not officially in charge of them. Facilities are set up by the central state and operated under its supervision. Yet local authorities are often indirectly involved, for example through the provision of municipal services;
2) In the fields of forced migration and camp studies, there is a lack of research perspective on the governance of reception facilities across the global South and North, and especially with a focus on the role of local authorities. To meet these research needs, this project builds on insights from refugee camps in Jordan, a country which has experienced the presence of ‘permanent-temporary’ reception facilities for 70 years, to put them into perspective with processes of refugee reception in Luxembourg.
The project aims at:
1) Developing a more global approach to analysing the governance of refugee reception facilities, going beyond the global South-North divide;
2) Developing a better understanding of the role of local governance in relation to refugee reception across the global South-North divide;
3) Understanding better the specificities in Luxembourg of the governance of refugee reception facilities from the perspective of global processes of refugee reception.
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AltFin - Regional approaches towards alternative economies and sustainable finance (Schulz, Dörry)

PI: Christian Schulz
Partner: Sabine Dörry (LISER)
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2020-2023
The project seeks to better understand regional economic development at the interface of alternative economy approaches, here circular economy (CE), and sustainable finance, in order to comprehend mechanisms that will guide regional transitions towards sustainable development. Fundamentally, transitions as directed, yet open ended, social processes require institutions to adapt and change. Thus, AltFin scrutinises in particular regional institutions in the three neighbouring countries France, Germany and Luxembourg, where national and regional initiatives have started to support CE endeavours. CE is indeed a prominent example of broader alternative economy approaches with particular – long-term – financing needs. At the same time, powerful financial firms, mainly embedded in international financial centres (IFCs) to serve global circuits of capital, have started to shift parts of their business towards sustainable finance. The project builds on preliminary evidence from Luxembourg that although there is strong demand for financing CE projects on a national level, financial firms in Luxembourg’s IFC – which has heavily specialised in green bonds and green investment funds – primarily invest in extra-European regions and, there, mainly in climate finance projects. The project aims to investigate empirically in a comparative manner the power induced relationships between sustainable finance designed in the IFCs Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Paris, and alternative economic activities in the three regional economies. Ultimately, AltFin seeks to develop a new framework of institutional change and its key mechanisms and practices at the interface of sustainable finance and alternative economies to strengthen regional economies and their sustainable development.

CONDISOBS – Contain, Distribute, Obstruct. Governing the Mobility of Asylum Seekers in the European Union (Vianelli, Nienaber)

PI: Lorenzo Vianelli
Supervisor: Birte Nienaber
Funding: H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship
Duration: 2020-2022
CONDISOBS will provide a unique and comprehensive analysis of the three key measures that were undertaken after the so-called “refugee crisis” to govern asylum seekers’ mobility in the EU, which is to say hotspots, relocation schemes and border controls. More specifically, it aims to understand whether hotspots have succeeded in containing incoming migrants in the first country of entry and whether relocation schemes and the strengthening of border controls have reduced “secondary movements” of asylum seekers within the EU. This will be achieved through an extensive, multi-sited qualitative study focusing on three aspects. The first concerns the functioning of hotspots in Greece and Italy and their ability to register all incoming migrants and channel them to the relevant administrative procedure. The second relates to the practical difficulties encountered by Greek and Italian authorities to relocate people, as well as the trajectories of those who were relocated to Luxembourg and Lithuania. The third deals with the effects of the reintroduction of border controls in three strategic border points that are commonly used by migrants to leave Italy. With its findings, the study will not only contribute to scholarship on asylum, migration and borders in the European context, but it will also provide a significant political contribution on two key issues around which the future configuration of the EU seems to rest on. The first is the reform of the Common European Asylum System, and in particular the reform of the Dublin regulation, while the second concerns the future of the Schengen agreement in a time in which freedom of movement between member states is increasingly contested.

GLOBAL - Relational Cities and Enclave Urbanism in the ‘Singapores of the West’ (Hesse, Wong)

PI: Markus Hesse

Coordination: Catherine Wong

Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2017-2020
Relational Cities and Enclave Urbanism in the ‘Singapores of the West’. How niche sovereignty strategies and political economy helped minor metropolises to globalise. The cases of Geneva, Luxembourg and Singapore.
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GR-ATLAS - Atlas digital multidisciplinaire, interactif et dynamique du Luxembourg et de la Grande Région (Pauly, Helfer, Caruso)

PIs: Michel Pauly
, Geoffrey Caruso
Coordination: Malte Helfer, Kerry Schiel
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) 
(2007-2009), UL (2009-)
Duration: 2007- present
GR-Atlas is an interactive atlas in the Internet (webGIS) of the "Greater Region SaarLorLux", covering the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the belgian region Wallonia, the former french region Lorraine and the two german Länder Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate. The multidisciplinary atlas, which is still under development, presents a wide range of thematic maps with scientific comment (including economic, religious, social, natural, historical, etc.) treating the entire region as a whole. The displayed objects are linked to an interactively accessible database. When zooming in the map, more detailed information might be displayed.
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MIMY - EMpowerment through liquid Integration of Migrant Youth in vulnerable conditions (Nienaber, Albert, Bissinger, Gilodi, Oliveira, Szendrei)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Isabelle Albert, Jutta Bissinger, Amalia Gilodi, José Oliveira, Greta Szendrei
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2020-2023
The project MIMY has set out to improve the situation of young migrants in Europe through a multi-level analysis of the related integration processes. Collecting qualitative and quantitative data and conducting case studies in various countries, the interdisciplinary consortium will analyse the social and economic effects of (successful or failed) integration in order to derive evidence-based policy recommendations. Especially since 2015, migratory flows to Europe have driven EU Member States to adopt different national strategies regarding integration efforts and policies. Moreover, in the context of an ageing population and a need for certain professional skills, migrants make an important economic contribution to these countries. Therefore, with young people representing a large proportion of migrants, societies need to find new ways to tackle the challenges arising from integration of young third-country nationals and to avoid social exclusion. The project MIMY addresses these issues by examining the effectiveness of integration policies in a comparative and interdisciplinary research endeavour. It will focus on the dynamic, open-ended process of integration across macro (EU migration policies), meso (regional economic and social systems) and micro (individual practices) level.
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RELOCAL - Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development (Nienaber, Blondel, Evrard)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Cyril Blondel, Estelle Evrard
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2016-2021
There is an increasing need for developing European Union Cohesion Policy in terms of greater sensitivity towards territorial specificities, more supportive of community-based development and the facilitation of greater civic participation. This also relates to the concern over decreasing identification with the European project among the population. Place-based development, endogenous regional development and territorial capital are some of the policy approaches that have been invoked to facilitate a reorientation of Cohesion Policy and territorial development policy. These need to be connected more specifically to notions of the local and localism. The project will be based on case studies of local contexts (e.g. cities and their regions) that exemplify development challenges in terms of spatial justice.
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SOSBUGS - Social benefits of urban green space (Caruso, Picard)

PIs: Geoffrey Caruso, Pierre Picard
Funding: University of Luxembourg
Duration: 2015-2020
The value of green space for people is widely reported, but knowledge gaps exist about how the spatial distribution, size and proximity of green space affect its use and valuation across different income groups. Moreover there is currently no comprehensive spatial micro-economic model that includes the complexity of interactions between green space and different household groups. These gaps must be researched in order to address the welfare optimality and equity of urban structures and green space distribution, especially since residential markets sort households by income in space, and because green space can potentially be ‘clubbed’ in some neighbourhoods.
The project will contribute further understanding of the interactions between green space and households’ sorting in cities and will identify planning strategies or forms of cooperation or pricing that can lead to a higher social outcome than emerging land market equilibria.

ECON4SD - Eco-Construction for Sustainable Development (Hertweck, Ferreira Silva)

PI: Florian Hertweck
PhD candidate: Marielle Ferreira Silva
Funding: Fonds Européen de Développement Régional (FEDER)
Duration: 2017-2021
The overall objective/purpose of the project is to strengthen R & D capacities in sustainable construction within the national context of Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Third Industrial Revolution by developing components and design models for resource and energy efficient buildings based on the construction materials concrete, steel and timber. Unique pre-fabricated structural building components which allow destruction-free dis- and re-assembly responding to changing structural demands, revitalisation or removal, will be developed within the project. The focus will lie on modularity, flexibility, adaptability and upgradability with detachable connections.
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Composite metabolic landscapes. The case of the Greater Luxembourg Region (Hertweck, Katsikis, Weichold)

PI: Florian Hertweck
Coordination: Nikolaos Katsikis, Ivonne Weichold (Collaborator)
Funding: Fondation Braillard Architectes
Duration: 2017-2021
In the framework of the "The Eco-Century Project: Architecture, Planning and Landscape under the Prism of our Planet’s Resources", launched by Fondation Braillard Architectes.
The Composite Metabolic Landscapes in the Luxembourg Region research project aims to explore alternative spatial development trajectories, responding to the intensive population and economic growth patterns of the Luxembourg region, and its largely unsustainable – both socially and ecologically - spatial development condition. The goal is to define a development envelope, or better a composite development gradient, that will be able to accommodate a more than 50% increase in population over the next 20 years, and an overall population of one million in the year 2060 in the state of Luxembourg.
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IBA Alzette Belval - Mission de préfiguration IBA Alzette Belval (Hertweck, Swinnen, Katsikis, Schmit, Ferreira Silva, Weichold)

PIs: Florian Hertweck, Peter Swinnen
Coordination: Nikolaos Katsikis, Carole Schmit, Marielle Ferreira Silva, Ivonne Weichold
Partner: Groupement européen de Coopération Territoriale (GECT) (chef de file du projet), Luxembourg Center for Architecture (LUCA), Établissement public d'aménagement d'Alzette Belval (EPA)
Funding: Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire et de la Région Grand Est (France), Ministère de l'Énergie et de l'Aménagement du territoire (LUX), Ministère du Logement (LUX)
Duration: 2019-2021 (Mission de préfiguration); 2022-2032 (Etude sur la faisabilité d'une IBA Alzette Belval)
On January 30th 2020, the University of Luxemburg together with the GECT, EPA and LUCA publicly launched the pre-IBA trajectory for the transboundary Alzette Belval Region. This future IBA (Internationale Bauaustellung) aims at developing a unique European architectural testing ground, with concrete focus on affordable housing, public land property, renewable energy, ecological commonality and soft mobility. For the University of Luxemburg the pre-IBA program is spearheaded by the Master in Architecture and the Department of the Department of Geography and Spatial Planning.
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BORDERCOMPLEXITIES – A German-French-Luxembourgish workshop series (Wille, Becker, Holzapfel-Mantin)

PI: Christian Wille
Coordination: Katrin Becker, Nicole Holzapfel-Mantin
Partners: University of Luxembourg, Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Europa-Universität Flensburg, Université de Lorraine, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Funding: German-French University
Duration: 2019-2021
In recent border studies, borders are understood as results and crystallization points of multi-layered formations resulting from the (situational) interaction of different actors, activities, bodies, objects, knowledge that become effective as border (de)stabilizations. The concept of border complexities encompasses such dynamic constellations, which either cause or result from borders. Border complexities are at the centre of the project and will be conceptualised using different analytical approaches and discussed using empirical examples. For this purpose, a series of workshops to enable an interdisciplinary examination of a recent development in border studies, will be carried out. The series consists of five thematically linked workshops each focus on a specific aspect of border complexities: borders as Border Complexities, logics of the dis/order of Border Complexities, spatialities and networks of border complexities, temporalities and change of border complexities, materialities and corporealities of border complexities
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SCALE-IT-UP - Scaling of the Environmental Impacts of Transport and Urban Patterns (Caruso, Wei, Kilgarriff)

PI: Geoffrey Caruso
PhD candidate: Yufei Wei
PostDoc: Paul Kilgarriff (LISER)
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2018-2021
Human activities are major contributors to global warming and pollution. Cities are growing and concentrate a large portion of these emitting activities, especially through the transport and housing sectors. There is debate on what is the optimal size and density of cities to support economic and social activities in an environmental friendly manner. An increasing opinion is that the larger and the denser are cities, the more environmentally friendly they are. This conclusion is confronted with two difficulties. First, there is a lack of comparable definitions of the spatial extent of cities, which is necessary for ranking many cities and their environmental impacts along population size or density. Second, describing a city as large or dense overlooks its internal structure, especially the distribution of densities as one goes away form the main centers and the relative location of uses. This project will analyze the internal urban structure of 800 European cities, after applying a comparable definition based on land use scaling properties. It will then investigate the scaling with population of internal characteristics of the urban structure and measured environmental impacts.   

Grand Geneve et Son Sol, Property, Ecology and Identity: A Prospect for a Socioecological Transition in a Cross-border Metropolis (Hertweck, Katsikis, Weichold)

PI: Florian Hertweck
Coordination: Nikolaos Katsikis, Ivonne Weichold (Collaborator)
Partner: ETH Zurich
Funding: Braillard Foundation
Duration: 2019-2020
Beyond the regular land-use plans and urbanistic projects at various scales, territorial design visions created in the context of public consultation are rare and unique projects potentially capable of changing the course of processes of production of territory and offering new guiding principles for the future for all protagonists involved. The case of the Greater Geneva cross-border metropolitan region—a case par excellence in Europe and the world—involves a high degree of complexity: its actors range from national and international governance institutions, to financial and knowledge clusters, to myriad local administrations, to citizens whose living and working places are spread across the region in both Switzerland and France.
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Observatoire Belval (Becker, Hesse)

L’Observatoire regroupe actuellement une cinquantaine de membres, représentant une vingtaine d’organisations différentes dont l’Université du Luxembourg, LISER, LIST, Agora, Fonds Belval, Ville d’Esch-sur-Alzette, Commune de Sanem, Ville de Luxembourg, Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures, Ministère du Logement, PRO-SUD, AGAPE, Fondation Bassin Minier, RBC DEXIA, ENSAN, CCPHVA, EPFL et d’autres.
L’Observatoire Belval est une plate‐forme d’échange d’informations et d’expériences dans les domaines du développement régional et urbain ainsi que de l’économie de la connaissance. Une telle collaboration entre la science et la pratique permet de renforcer l’intégration du site Belval dans son milieu urbain et régional. Par conséquent, le projet Belval constitue non seulement une chance extraordinaire pour la région et l’ensemble du Luxembourg, mais c’est aussi un laboratoire idéal pour étudier les impacts qui s’en découlent.

Pourquoi cette plate-forme d'échange?
La reconversion d’une friche industrielle au sud du Luxembourg en un pôle universitaire innovateur représente une situation de laboratoire d’aménagement du territoire unique en son genre. Face aux investissements énormes et à l’importance urbanistique du projet, l’Institut de Géographie et Aménagement du territoire de l’Université du Luxembourg a lancé l'initiative « Observatoire Belval » en 2009 suite au colloque international « villes universitaires : un espace de développement économique et humain».

Cette plate-forme permet de suivre et de documenter le développement du site Belval ainsi que de documenter les effets pour la Ville d’Esch‐sur‐Alzette, la commune de Sanem, la région du Sud ainsi que le Grand‐Duché du Luxembourg en général.
Trois objectifs sont à la base de l’Observatoire :  

  1. Premièrement, l’Observatoire se consacre à la transmission de connaissances et de savoir‐faire afin d’apprendre de bonnes pratiques vécues autrui et de transférer ces expériences internationales vers Belval.
  2. Deuxièmement, l’Observatoire examine le thème des grands projets urbains et évalue les expériences liées à la nature très spécifique de grands projets. Celles-ci impliquent de prendre en compte la durée de la réalisation, les coûts souvent croissants mais aussi les questions de la gestion et de la coordination ainsi que les effets liés à ces projets.  
  3. Troisièmement, à l’avenir, l’Observatoire souhaite compiler, traiter et analyser des données statistiques afin d’observer et d’interpréter les développements dans la région. Ce monitorage servira à l’information des responsables politiques, des chercheurs, des acteurs de Belval et des autres personnes intéressées.


  • Biennale "Ville et Université" (juin 2013)
  • Biennale "Ville et Université" (juin 2011)
  • Conférence "Ville et Université (octobre 2009)


  • Workshop « mobilité » (juillet 2014)
  • Workshop I (juin 2011)
  • Réunions:
    • 8e réunion de l’Observatoire Belval (janvier 2014)
    • 7e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (février 2013)   
    • 6e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (février 2012)
    • 5e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (octobre 2011)
    • 4e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (mai 2011)
    • 3e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (janvier 2011)
    • 2e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (juillet 2010)
    • 1e réunion de l'Observatoire Belval (février 2010)

Pour tout commentaire ou toute question concernant l'Observatoire Belval, veuillez contacter Markus Hesse ou Tom Becker

Social capital in the integration of young adult migrants in Luxembourg. Theory and practice (Le capital social dans l'intégration des jeunes adultes issus de la migration au Luxembourg. Théorie et pratique) (Nienaber, Oliveira, Vysotskaya)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Team: José Oliveira, Volha Vysotskaya
Funding: Ministry of Family, Integration and the Greater Region (National Action Plan on Integration (Plan d’Action National d’Integration (PAN))
Duration: 2020 –2021
The research project wants to examine how young migrants, often in vulnerable situations and in danger of precarious employment or marginalisation in society, deal with their integration into Luxembourg and prepare themselves for their adult lives. Particular attention will be given to the support of youth organisations, governmental and non-governmental, formal and informal, to this process of building up social capital.

PhD projects

CIRCULUX - Implementing a circular economy in Luxembourg - Motivations and barriers of companies for shifting towards circularity (Hild, Schulz)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Paula Hild

Supervision: Christian Schulz
Funding: FNR AFR PhD Grant

Duration: 2016-2020
The primary aim of the CIRCULUX doctoral project is to explore the current framework conditions for implementing circular economy and the barriers for firms to adapt to these new imperatives, which have become an essential pillar of sustainability policies and regional development strategies. One of the objectives is to understand what influences companies in Luxembourg to shift towards circularity and how policy could guide a transition towards a circular economy with an emphasis on the building and automotive supply industries.
The research explores social practice theories to bring together the different viewpoints on the circular economy to be able to highlight some areas of policy intervention. The study design is qualitative, including the analysis of documents, exploratory and semi-structured interviews (75 interviews in total). The data analysis bases on a two steps coding scheme and operates with the software MAXQDA.
The results put forward the interdependence of the actors’ perception of what would mean a circular economy model for Luxembourg. They also reveal the firm’s specific role in this system. The decision of a business actor to implement a circular economy practice depends primarily on its return on investment, the general regulatory pressure and the maturity of the industry and the company. In general, the hindrance for circularity is not the absence of a technological or technical solution. As a push for action, interviewees suggested a regulatory framework for circularity.
The Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR) funds this work under the project proposal 11268491 ‘Implementing a circular economy in Luxembourg’. The project contributes to the FNR CORE project CIRCULAR (2017-2020) under the supervision of Christian Schulz and in collaboration with Rannveig Edda Hjaltadóttir.

EUMMEP - EU Migration Policies in Crisis: The role of traditional and social media in shaping the European policy attention and actions (Camisa, Nienaber)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Naja Thaulov Camisa
Supervision: Birte Nienaber
Funding: FNR AFR PhD Grant
Duration: 2020-2023
The increase of migrants arriving in Europe brought with it a parallel increase in media attention to the topic and highlighted systemic deficiencies in the European Union asylum system. The scope of this research is to understand the influence of traditional and social media on policy initiatives relating to migration within the EU. The research will address this impact by going beyond traditional agenda setting theories to understand the media’s impact on the substantial political agenda and decision making process relating to EU directives and responses to migration. This will be done through a comparative and longitudinal study between 2008 and 2018, through a comprehensive mapping exercise, drawing lineaments between media, external events and policy making within the EU in the defined timeframe.

Territorial borders as state practice (Connor, Wille)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Ulla Connor
Supervision: Christian Wille
Duration: 2017-2021
Recently, questions of territorial borders have been increasingly brought into the focus of social sciences. Despite the existence of practice-oriented studies of borders, sociological theories of practice have not been entirely taken into account regarding their potential for a process-oriented perspective on borders. The PhD project provides an interface between border studies and sociology and aims to show how border studies can be profitably associated with sociological theories of practice. To this end, a practical theoretical research perspective for the study of borders will be developed and illustrated using the exemplary field of investigation of political cross-border cooperation practices in Europe. The PhD project contributes to a sociology of the border by making the knowledge of border studies fruitful for a sociological perspective. Conversely, it provides border studies with a research perspective and framework adapted to the research on border practices.

Community initiatives and social innovation: pathways to degrowth transition (Essuman, Schulz)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Gilles Evrard Essuman
Supervision: Christian Schulz
Duration: 2019-2022
The outburst of debates and talks about the current global socio-economic and ecological crisis has led to the proliferation of various community initiatives aiming to make our planet sustainable. Various scholars propose a degrowth transition that will help rethink our production, consumption and life patterns for the purposes of sustainability. Our research aims to understand the role of social innovation in the development and implementation process of community initiatives in regards to degrowth. To do this, we intend to make use of Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology coupled with ethnography in order to investigate various community projects in a processual manner that will help us study what is being done rather than what should be done. Participant observation, interviews, surveys and focus groups will help us situate the concept of social innovation in the projects’ development process as well as understand its functions and roles in the degrowth transition process. As results, we aim to develop a new conceptual framework in relation to community initiatives and social innovation as well as get a better understanding of the social innovation concept in regards to transition movements.

Policy Coherence for Antifragility: a new conceptual and methodological proposal (Ros Cuellar, Koff)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Julia Ros Cuellar
Supervision: Harlan Koff
Duration: 2018-2021
Approaches such as resilience assessment and Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), in the current global context, in which the capability of social-ecological systems are losing their ability to sustain life are useful tools to shed light on how policies should be designed and implemented. Rethinking is resilience is a need when we are facing major shocks: antifragile systems benefit from them and improve their capabilities to handle shocks. This PhD research seeks to assess how coherent policies are for antifragility in specific contexts and in the face of determined shocks in the social, environmental and economic dimensions of social-ecological systems. It operationalizes policy coherence and resilience, through Policy Coherence for Antifragility (PCAf) analyzing how they enhance or reduce vulnerability, equity and formality. PCAf examines how different policy arenas: social, environmental, and economic undermine or support resilience objectives and analyzes how mechanisms within policies in the three arenas reinforce or weaken antifragility. Through two study cases in southern Mexico, this research assesses how policies are performing in their pursuit of transformative development, detecting the trade-offs and mutual reinforcement between them.

Integration of young vulnerable migrants in Luxembourg: a migrant-centred approach on inclusivity (Gilodi, Albert, Nienaber)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Amalia Gilodi
Supervision: Isabelle Albert
Duration: 2020-2023
In the context of a culturally diverse modern Europe, the goal to promote inclusive societies which do not leave anybody behind is of prominent importance. Within the framework of the H2020 project MIMY, investigating the integration of migrant youth in vulnerable conditions, this study will focus on the strategies adopted by young migrants living in Luxembourg to cope with the difficulties related to the integration process. Adopting a migrant-centred approach, primarily qualitative methodologies (including participatory action-research) will be employed to analyse the challenges and opportunities related to integration, from the point of view of different groups of young migrants in vulnerable conditions. By setting the research in the special context of Luxembourg, where almost half of the population is made of ‘foreigners’, the project also aims to contribute to the literature on integration by critically reflecting on what is considered ‘successful’ and ‘failed’ integration by different groups, stakeholders and actors.

Internal urban profiles and the scaling of environmental effects (Wei, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Yufei Wei
Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso
Duration: 2018-2022
This PhD project is a part of SCALE-IT-UP project funded under the FNR CORE program. The project as a whole seeks to analyse how city size and urban forms impact the socio-economic and environmental outcomes of cities. The PhD is devoted to the environmental aspects of the project. More particularly the PhD project is exploring how pollution and heat islands relate to both city size, expressed in population terms as in the urban scaling literature, and to the internal structure of cities, expressed in radial land use profiles or population density gradients. Other environmental impacts will also be measured as city aggregates and the radial approach will also be confronted to other urban landscape metrics approaches. The work relies heavily on high resolution land use and environmental data across Europe and geospatial analysis techniques.

AGRI – URBAN DESIGN - Protecting, Integrating & Allocating Agriculture in Urban Design and Planning in Luxembourg (Weichold, Hertweck)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Ivonne Weichold
Supervision: Florian Hertweck
Duration: 2017-2021
Throughout the course of western urbanisation, agrarian land was marginalised within extended urban areas in the planning trajectories. Consequently, the management of new urban developments disregarded the ecological conditions of its agricultural land. The current challenges of urbanisation, the decline of arable land, food security and the rise in climate uncertainty call for a careful appraisal of alternative development strategies, including productive agricultural land.
This research aims to highlight the potentials and challenges of integrating agri-urban typologies into urban design, through a multi-method approach of theoretical, historical and applied research. It traces the history and unpacks the role of agriculture in urban design and planning. It further interrogates the integration and protection of productive agricultural land through a contemporary case study by addressing future urban development in Luxembourg. The contribution of this research is threefold: The first aspect is a cartographic investigation of socio-economic and spatial conditions of the territorial and urban environment. The second contribution explores the limits and potentials of the future development of Luxembourg by introducing agri-urban zoning and typologies within the urban development plan. Finally, the third input relates to the implementation of agri-urban typologies in existing planning instruments.

Maintaining unsustainability: A relational-comparative assessment of rapid urban transformation in Dublin and Beirut (Rafferty, Hesse)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Michael Rafferty
Supervision: Markus Hesse
Duration: 2018-2021
The nascent category of ‘relational cities’ or, better, relational urbanisation, has highlighted the specific features, qualities and problems of ‘small-but-global’ urban configurations experiencing rapid transformation towards positionality within a capitalist economic framework of material, human and capital flows. This project seeks to extend research on the ‘relational city’ beyond a subset of micro-states, city-states and regional financial hubs to take account of the problems in housing, infrastructure and labour in the major cities of 'small states’ which arise from rapid re-orientation of the city (and state’s) economy in an economic context of globalisation, financialisation and an industrial shift towards advanced services. A relational-comparative study using primarily qualitative methodologies considers the case studies of Dublin (Ireland) and Beirut (Lebanon). The study engages with institutional, civil society, economic and political actors to explore the complex governance paradigm and political geographies which underpin the particular form of ‘uneven development’ relevant to an increasing number of smaller, but internationalising, cities and produce the magnified problems in housing, transport, logistics, infrastructure and labour they encounter, and how these are contested, mitigated and maintained.

Models for reuse and recycling of architecture (Ferreira Silva, Hertweck)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Marielle Ferreira Silva
Supervision: Florian Hertweck
Duration: 2018-2022
The Ph.D. thesis is a part of the research project Eco-Construction for Sustainable Development (ECON4SD) financed by the European Union in partnership with the University of Luxembourg. This research has an interdisciplinary approach that professionals work together from a different domain, like architecture, structures, materials, energy consumption, and monitoring systems, which Marielle FERREIRA SILVA is responsible for developing all the matter of architecture. Owing to the increasing demand for multi-use, re-usable, and resource-efficient constructions, the research aims to develop modular, adaptable, dismountable, and recyclable typologies buildings. Three building typologies were developed: “Slab,” “Tower,” and “Demountable.” These prototypes address the ecological challenges and house-shortage issues in Luxembourg and can be adapted to other cities in the world.

Towards residential choice models in archaeology (Sikk, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Kaarel Sikk
Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso
Duration: 2017-2021
Defining the location of a home as the center of live constitutes always a substantial individual life choice. Even more importantly those individual decision accumulate and give a spatial structure to society. General trends of those residential choices characterize society in general by giving information about daily lives, mobility, economy, social system etc. Interestingly, archaeology provides a long-term insight into those choices with information related to the concept of settlement patterns.
The current project is focused on studying explanatory models of settlement patterns as settlement choice models. The project includes descriptive statistics of settlement patterns of the Stone Age settlement sites in the North Eastern Europe, inductive models for dealing for lacking data and Agent-Based model for explaining empirical data and inductive models as choice models. More information

Urban forest, urban form and anthropogenic emissions (Boura, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Marlène Boura
Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso
Duration: 2017-2021
In the context of population growth and urbanisation, associated with an increase of GHG concentration in the atmosphere, the impact of human activities on climate change is ever increasing. At the same time, the pressure on natural ecosystems especially within and around cities becomes harder. We contend that these natural ecosystems are important to mitigate climate change, if we would be able to understand better how the services they provide to Earth and mankind vary across and within cities, especially along different spatial arrangements of anthropogenic and natural lands. The majority of GHG emissions arise from anthropogenic activities within urban areas, while the most important potential carbon sinks lie within natural and semi-natural areas. The further agglomeration of the population in cities but also the last two decades of density planning are both aggregated views of cities which ignore the spatial pattern of carbon sources and sinks. A deeper understanding is needed on how urban patterns can cope with their own emissions, and at which magnitude, compared to global scale effects. The objective of this project is to provide insights on how urban forms and their inner characteristics relate to carbon dioxide (CO2) profiles.  More particularly, it analyses the level of integration of urban forest (all elements of urban vegetation) present within the built-up footprint and within functional urban areas in order to derive the effect of their spatial distribution on CO2 flows and aggregated budgets. The research is conducted at a geographically detailed scale for hundreds of Functional Urban Areas (FUAs) in Europe. It is structured in three stages as follows:

  1. Ecosystem Services (ES) typology of urban areas: How much variation exist in Europe in the spatial integration and characteristics of urban forests within urban settlements. Are there clear types and how can they potentially support ES arising from the urban forest? Are there mismatches between needs and provisions of urban forests ES in general or for some urban types? How much room for improvement could be suggested from spatial re-organisation or increasing urban forests at?
  2. CO2 flows: How does the relative spatial pattern of urban forests (and their characteristics) within urban areas impact the CO2 uptake potential? Modelling of spatial explicit CO2 flows for European cities and analysis of the link between the typology and the carbon profile.
  3. Spatial boundaries and CO2 budget: How does the definition of urban boundaries affect CO2 budget appraisal? (functional-radial-morphological approaches). What is the impact of choosing a city, metropolitan, regional, national, continental scale for appraisal? How can each of these scales be relevant against planning capacities and land use policies?

The residential and commuting distance nexus across borders

Coordination (PhD Candidate): Artemis Tsiopa
Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso
Duration: 2019-2023
Human mobility has always been one of the key factors to consider before any urban and transportation planning. People move daily for different reasons, but employment is the main one, since the workplace and the main residence are not, usually, located in the same area. The distance between these two locations is considered a trade-off between housing and transportation costs. The decision to commute or relocate is significantly more difficult when the workplace is located in a different country than the main residence. Cross-border commuting is very popular in the European Union. To that end, the main aim of this project is to identify cross-border commuting patterns and residential migration patterns within the Greater Region around Luxembourg and the European Union. These patterns will be linked and explain why people choose to cross-border commute and not relocate and vice-versa. Census and Twitter geo-located big data will be used to implement spatial interaction models, spatial econometrics and urban economic simulation models. The project will be divided into two larger sections. The first one will focus on a theoretical approach, both on an aggregate and a micro level. In the second section these theoretical approaches will be applied and empirically analysed for the European Union and the Greater Region. Geo-located Twitter big data will be used to fill in gaps in census data.​

Completed projects

SUSTAIN_GOV (Carr, Hesse

PI: Markus Hesse
Coordination: Constance Carr
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) (Caruso, Schiel)

Coordination: Geoffrey Caruso, Kerry Schiel

GreenRegio - Green building in regional strategies for sustainability: multi-actor governance and innovative building technologies in Europe, Australia, and Canada (Schulz, Affolderbach)

PIs: Christian Schulz, Boris Braun (University of Cologne)

Coordination: Julia Affolderbach
PhD candidate: Bérénice Jung
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), German Research Foundation (DFG)

Duration: 2013-2016
More information:

S-GHOST - Self-Generating Housing Open Space and Transportation in the City (Caruso, Schindler)

PIs: Geoffrey Caruso, Dominique Peeters (UCL, BE), Isabelle Thomas (UCL, BE), Jean Cavailhès (INRA Dijon, FR), Pierre Frankhauser (University of Franche-Comté, Besançon FR)
Funding: FEDER (FR) as part of ODIT-CEUP project; ANR (FR) as part of ECDESUP project
Duration: 2013-2015 (FEDER); 2010-2013 (ANR)
We are involved in the development and testing of a micro-economic based urban growth simulation model S-GHOST, which is and has been part of various wider research projects, including project ECDESUP (Evaluation du Choix et de la Décision dans les Espaces Urbains et Périurbains, led by Pierre Frankhauser, University of Franche-Comté) and now the ODIT-CEUP project (Observatoire des Dynamiques Industrielles et Territoriales - Construction de l'espace urbain et périurbain (Construction of Urban and Periurban Space), led by Cécile Tannier (University of Franche-Comté)). The ongoing CEUP project aims at understanding how innovative planning solutions can improve residential quality and minimize the costs of urban and periurban mobilities. The project applies spatial planning scenarios based on fractal geometry and resilient cities concepts, and uses prospective computer simulation models of urban development.

MST-LISA - Residential Settlement Clusters from Minimum Spanning Tree and Local Index of Spatial Association (Caruso)

Prinicipal investigator: Geoffrey Caruso, Isabelle Thomas (UCL, BE), Mohamed Hilal (INRA Dijon, FR)
Funding: EU RURAGRI call as a part of TRUSTEE project; ANR (FR) as a part of ECDESUP project
Duration: 2013-2015 (EU TRUSTEE); 2010-2013 (ANR)
MST LISA is a spatial analysis project where graph theory and a local spatial autocorrelation index are combined to delineate residential clusters from a detailled GIS dataset of individual residential buildings. The project consists in developing the methods and software codes and conducting applications. MST-LISA has been part of project ECDESUP (Evaluation du Choix et de la Décision dans les Espaces Urbains et Périurbains, led by Pierre Frankhauser, University of Franche-Comté) and now funded under the project TRUSTEE (Towards RUral Synergies and Trade-offs between Economic development and Ecosystem services, led by Cécile Détang-Dessendre, INRA Dijon, FR).

MOEBIUS - MObilities, Environment, Behaviour integrated in Urban Simulation (Caruso)

Coordination: Geoffrey Caruso, Philippe Gerber (CEPS (LU)), Eric Cornélis (University of Namur (BE)), Djamel Khadraoui (CRP H Tudor (LU)), C Enault (University of Strasbourg (FR))
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2010-2014
MOEBIUS aims to assess different land use planning scenarios in Luxembourg by simulating future urbanisation and commuting mobility, including modal split. Overall the project is similar in its objectives to a Land Use and Transport Interaction model although very modular in its implementation. Specific disaggregated approaches and agents representation are aimed within each subparts: GIS inputs and design of land use planning scenarios, construction of synthetic population, residential choice model, transport mode choice model, and traffic assignment.

MOVE - Mapping mobility – pathways, institutions and structural effects of youth mobility in Europe (Nienaber, Vysotskaya, Kmiotek-Meier, Karl)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Volha Vysotskaya, Emilia Kmiotek-Meier
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2015-2018
The overall ambition of MOVE is to provide a research-informed contribution towards improving the conditions of the mobility of young people in Europe and a reduction of the negative impacts of mobility through the identification of ways of good practice thus fostering sustainable development and wellbeing.
The main research question is: How can the mobility of young people be ‘good’ both for socio-economic development and for individual development of young people, and what are the factors that foster/hinder such beneficial mobility?
More information :

CEASEVAL - Evaluation of the Common European Asylum System under Pressure and Recommendations for further Development (Nienaber, Paraschivescu, Vianelli, Oesch)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Claudia Paraschivescu, Lorenzo Vianelli, Lucas Oesch
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2017-2019
Considering the obvious malfunctions of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) which have exacerbated in the context of the so-called ‘migration crisis’ in Europe since 2015, the scope of CEASEVAL is to reassess the CEAS in order to develop recommendations informing possible reforms. CEASEVAL will propose a multidisciplinary approach, as comprehensive reforms should address laws and policies, while taking into account political, social and geographical contexts. Following a multi-level governance framework – according to which what is happening at the local and national levels is to be considered as important as the on-going reform process of the CEAS at the EU level in order to understand the strengths and limits of the system – this project will determine which kind of harmonisation (legislative, implementation) is possible and necessary.
More information:

CROSSCULT - Empowering reuse of digital cultural heritage in context-aware crosscuts of European history (Jones)

PI: Catherine Jones
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2016-2019
The project aims to spur a change in the way European citizens appraise History. It will foster the re-interpretation of what citizens may have learnt in the light of cross-border interconnections among pieces of cultural heritage, other citizens' viewpoints and physical venues. It seeks to increase retention, stimulate reflection and help citizens appreciate their common past and present in a more holistic manner. Technology and mobile apps will be used and a user-friendly and a cost-efficient tool for experience designers, museum experts and external stakeholders, will be developed.
More information:

Cross-Migration - Current European and Cross-National Comparative Research and Research Actions on Migration (Nienaber, Oesch)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Lucas Oesch
Funding: H2020; UL part of the research network
Duration: 2018-2020
Migration and the characteristics which constitute its parameters, dynamics and complexities comprises one of the most paramount matters in contemporary Europe. Under these designated circumstances, the necessity of relevant, concise, and useful knowledge are prerequisites for the design of efficient and constructive policies. Although particular databases such as EUROSTAT and OECD offer valuable insights into these migratory dynamics, a comprehensive and integrative database which synthesizes, categorizes and maps out the vast analytical accounts on migration throughout Europe is non-existent. This project, bringing together 16 leading research institutions, networks and policy institutes throughout Europe, aims to proficiently fulfill this gap crucial for policy-purposes through the construction of a central migration hub. This hub will be of instrumental value due to its capability to operate as a key grammar in the design of current and future policy.
More information:

CIRCULAR - Challenges for the implementation of Circular Economy policies: practices, institutions and hybrid intersections (Schulz, Hjaltadóttir)

PI: Christian Schulz
Coordination: Rannveig Edda Hjaltadóttir

PhD candidate: Paula Hild
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2017-2020
The main objective of the project is to assess the challenges and opportunities of implementing Circular Economy (CE) policies at the regional level. We want to identify the current dynamics, challenges and barriers in the implementation of circular economy policies by studying the role of firms, business associations, public authorities, and civil society organisations in this endeavour. Case study regions are the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Västra Götaland in Sweden. In both regions, we will inquire into the building sector, the automotive supply industry as well as into local initiatives (food cycles, repair workshops).
More information:

Completed PhD projects

REMI - Residential migration of Luxembourgish citizens within the Greater Region. An inter-urban discourse analysis (Christmann, Hesse)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Nathalie Christmann
Supervision: Markus Hesse
Funding: FNR AFR PhD Grant
Duration: 2013-2017
The project aims at assessing the extent of the internationalisation of the housing market within the Greater Region of Luxembourg and its consequences for neighbour cities. The economic development of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the concomitant rise in property prices as well as the extreme housing shortages in Luxembourg lead to an expansion of the housing market into the areas across the border, thus fostering residential cross-border mobility. This has on the one hand an impact on the constitution of the residents living in the border area. On the other hand, the higher purchasing power of the Luxembourgish ’expats‘ may lead to rising ground prices and rents in the target cities as well, thus raising the perception that affordable housing is becoming increasingly critical, fostered by a somehow cross-border gentrification.
In order to frame these issues appropriately, the project combines three different research angles: first, the study design connects the housing market in the rather polycentric ‘Greater Region’ with the issue of cross-border migration; second, our analytical lens will be directed to both urban housing in this particular context and the way it is represented within different discourses (e.g. in planning documents, expert opinions, newspapers); due to the importance of image and reputation for locational choices, third, a discourse analysis approach will be pursued, in the context of everyday practices of ‘doing geography’ or ‘regionalisation’.

BIKEREV - The bike-share revolution: A mixed method comparative study (Médard de Chardon, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Cyrille Médard de Chardon

Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso
Funding: FNR AFR PhD Grant

Duration: 2012-2016
A study of bike-share system (vélo en libre service) effectiveness, station location and implementation process. This work will do an in-depth analysis of Luxembourg bike-share system (BSS) to better understand how it is being used as a new means of urban mobility. A translantic study will compare BSSs in Europe and North America through quantitative measures while also trying to understand the process and reasoning of BSS implementations and variation between systems.

LUPUS - Large-scale urban projects in Luxembourg – urban integration, governance practices, hegemonic discourses (Leick, Hesse)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Annick Leick
Supervision: Markus Hesse

Duration: 2012-2016
Since the 1960s several large-scale urban projects have been launched on the small territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Plateau Kirchberg, Belval-Ouest, Gare centrale , Royal Hamilius, Ban de Gasperich Porte de Hollerich etc.). The inclination to plan large-scale projects is actually astonishing, given the size of city and country on the one hand and the rather critical discourse concerning large-scale urban projects in urban studies and in the planning literature on the other hand. Against this background, the research project aims to explore the question whether the observed preference for large-scale urban development projects in Luxembourg, is appropriate given the rather specific local and regional context. Due to the specific framework conditions of the Grand Duchy, Grounded Theory has been chosen as a particular methodology for research. Furthermore, as these large-scale projects are embedded in state modernization, image building and international competition, discourse analysis will be practiced in order to decipher the non-material, yet highly important dimension of communicative construction of space.

EURODIFFUSION – Exploring EU citizens mobility and regional integration through the analysis of Euro coins circulation (Le Texier
, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Marion Le Texier

Supervision: Claude Grasland (University Paris 7), Geoffrey Caruso

Duration: 2010-2013
This thesis aims at analyzing European citizens’ mobility and regional integration through the study of the spatial diffusion of national Euro coins within the Greater Region. The main challenge of the research is to bring new knowledge on the functioning of this particular cross border area, including aspects related to the attractiveness of the different places, barrier effects, limits of the Greater Region as revealed by people mobility, etc. More generally it seeks to develop a method, within a data scarce environment, to evaluate spatial diffusion processes and networks across European territories. Furthermore, this research provides the opportunity to link different families of models used in social sciences (geography, sociology, economy, and demography) or experimental sciences (medicine, biology, physics) with complex system theory.

PERILUX - Combining GIS and hedonic analysis to estimate the value of neighbourhood landscape and accessibility in suburban Luxembourg (Glaesener, Caruso)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Marie-Line Glaesener

Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso

Funding: FNR AFR PhD Grant

Duration: 2009-2013
This thesis aims to better understand the periurbanisation process in Luxembourg and quantify the value of landscape amenities and local accessibility. We plan to identify and quantify the essential attributes of periurban externalities that increase the neighbourhoods attractiveness and the willingness to pay of consumers, in order to detect the marginal value of several neighbourhood characteristics by applying the hedonic pricing method on property values. Geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial econometric tools will be combined to account for micro-geographic features and robust estimations.

Political Participation in the “Social City” / Politische Partizipation in der „Sozialen Stadt“ (Schenkel, Hesse)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Kerstin Schenkel
Supervision: Markus Hesse
Duration: 2010-2014
The thesis seeks to investigate the difficulties of political participation in urban policy at local levels, the reasons behind these barriers and the opportunities to overcome. The programs on the Federal level will be analysed, also the logics underlying the regional and local framework strategies and their contents. In so doing, the research aims at answering the following questions: Which standards are set related to their participation term and the forms of participation? How are the conversion processes organised at the local level? Which control and regulation structures are the basis for the action of the relevant participants?
The thesis will be based on field research in Cologne, Germany, and also assess re-lated experience from district and state based policies in Berlin, Germany. Given the ongoing urban development pressure in Luxembourg, the findings will be extremely relevant for improving planning and participation procedures in this country as well.

Student mobility as transition - a comparison of degree and credit mobile students from Luxembourg (Kmiotek-Meier, Nienaber)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Emilia Kmiotek-Meier
Supervision: Birte Nienaber
Duration: 2015-2018
The research focuses transitions of mobile students, taking into account both credit and degree students from Luxembourg. The study analyses academic related stay abroad as a transition on different levels, e.g. within the educational system as transition into higher education, within family/life course as transition into adulthood or as transition between different social networks. At the same time, the interplay of those different transitions is one of the dissertation's central interestes. Theoretical lens is the life course perspective, realised in a mixed-methods design (semi-structured interviews and online survey). One of study's core points is also the role of mobility/migration in the transitions mentioned and in the life course as whole.

Green Building in Regional Strategies for Sustainability: Luxembourg & Freiburg (Jung, Schulz)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Bérénice Jung

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2013-2017
Set within the framework of the GreenRegio project the PhD seeks to retrace how a contextually specific approach of sustainable building is conveyed and materialises into particular projects in the city regions of Luxembourg (LU) and Freiburg (DE). A particular focus is given on the framings and rationales mobilised by actors to justify and legitimise the green building agenda in each of these places, specifically engaging with critical literature on ecological modernisation and the green economy and notably the concept of environmental discourses. Different kind of textual material are analysed qualitatively, including key policy documents and programmes, but also newspaper articles, and further put in perspective with interviews conducted with key actors locally involved in green building.

Connecting political subjectivities for sustainable practice interventions- The case of 30 years of transition in Beckerich, Luxemburg (Doerr, Schulz)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Jan-Tobias Doerr

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2015-2018
In the past 30 years, the Luxemburgish commune Beckerich and the canton Reiden have put forward a range of sustainability interventions, highly progressive in the national context. In the 80’s and 90’s, focus lay on design of new modes of participation and community learning resulting in a decision for a low-carbon transition. In recent years, the transformative local spirit can be seen to ‘spill over’ into the canton, and other fields of community action such as: development of a regional currency, a trans-border river-governance project, and a community supported agriculture (CSA) project in. Meanwhile, substantial reduction of domestic energy and water consumption indicate a change in everyday practices.
This research project aims at understanding the individual motivations and forms of cooperation in which the above-mentioned initiatives emerge. It conceptualizes the local development as interconnected social practices evolving within the process of social learning. A Q-study, on both the level of selected sustainability interventions and the community-level, identifies typified local political subjectivities. These build the backdrop for characterization of the general understandings holding the initiatives together and a discussion of the overall teleological structure of the local development.

Diverse economic practices: Logics and Change (Schmid, Schulz)

Coordination (PhD candidate): Benedikt Schmid

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2015-2018
Economies are inherently diverse (Lee 2006). In opposition to monistic representations of “the economy” and capitalocentric narratives, a reading for difference reveals economies as sites of multiple practices, values and ethics (Gibson-Graham 2006, North 2015, Peck 2013). Frequently however, a priority of representations and discourses engenders de-materialized accounts. A praxeological approach takes “doings and sayings” into account and allows for a stronger focus on (im)possibilities of actions as well as on stability & change – without resorting to binary thinking of micro- and macroperspectives (Schatzki 2016). Looking at ‘non-capitalist’, and small-scale ‘capitalist’ ventures in Stuttgart (Germany), this thesis attempts to carve out the diverse logics underlying economic practices, as well as their interrelatedness. In addition, the question is raised, what role the interdependencies between different ventures, projects and actors play in dealing with diverse (institutional) logics. Perspectivally, the thesis aims to contribute to a growing discourse on the transition to more socially and environmentally just economies.