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Issue No. 10 – June 2016

In this issue

  • Introduction
  • Summer School: The Challenge of Governing Urban Diversity
  • Cross Evaluation Conference in Antwerp
  • DIVERCITIES Educational Programme in Action
  • Meet our New Junior Researchers
  • In Other News
Welcome to the tenth DIVERCITIES newsletter. Launched in March 2013, DIVERCITIES brings together seventeen accomplished partners to collaborate on a four-year research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The main objective of DIVERCITIES is to examine how diversity can foster social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in European cities.

Summer School: The Challenge of Governing Urban Diversity

Summer School

The DIVERCITIES Marie Jahoda Summer School: The Challenge of Governing Urban Diversity will be held in Vienna 3-9 July 2016. The team in Vienna outlines the programme and their expectations.

The main aim of the DIVERCITIES Summer School is to elaborate on and discuss how Europe can benefit from diversity. It is our central hypothesis that urban diversity is an asset; it can inspire creativity and innovation, create cities that are more liveable and harmonious, stimulate local and national economies and make European cities more competitive.

Invited speakers and around 25 PhD students from a range of countries will come together to debate and discuss the strengths of urban diversity. The programme promises lively discussion with a video link in from Steven Vertovec, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen and Honorary Joint Professor of Sociology and Ethnology, University of Göttingen.

Urban governance, segregation and neighbourhood effects, economic performance and social cohesion and how they all relate to urban diversity are some of the topics that will be addressed during the Summer School. Multiple questions will be posed, unpacked and contemplated: How is diversity approached from a variety of scientific fields? How is diversity connected with topics of inequality and what is the relationship between these two concepts? What are the limits of diversity promoted by municipal policies?

We also expect enriching debate and discourse on the concept of diversity itself. We are excited at the prospect of exchanging views and discussing issues that might arise from urban diversity, particularly in light of recent developments concerning the arrival of refugees in European cities and the resurgence of xenophobia culminated in Brexit.

The format for the Summer School will see morning sessions organised around theoretical input from renowned scholars and researchers with the afternoon sessions turning to methodological challenges in the research of urban diversity. The afternoon sessions will be given by Post-docs or PhD students nearing the end of their doctorates who will provide first hand insights on methodological challenges.

Participating students will especially benefit from the afternoon sessions as they will have opportunity to present and discuss their own PhD projects and to learn from each others’ research experiences.

Participants and instructors come from diverse academic backgrounds including Migration Studies, Sociology, Geography, Architecture, Planning Studies, Political Science and many more, which we expect will provide an especially fruitful programme.

We believe urban diversity can be a strength rather than a burden. It can positively affect social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance. However, a re-think of public policies and governance models is needed to make more intelligent use of diversity’s potential.

Full information is available on our website:

Cross Evaluation Conference in Antwerp

Following the Summer School, the Cross Evaluation Conference in Antwerp is the next major event for DIVERCITIES. The aim of the meeting is to bring together civil society representatives, policy makers and academic experts from across Europe to discuss how urban diversity can positively affect social cohesion, economic performance and the social mobility of individuals and groups

After almost four years of in depth research into diversity policies, everyday life and entrepeneurship in diverse neighbourhoods, the cross evaluation sessions will attempt to highlight how diversity promotes or hinders social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in diverse neighbourhoods. We’ll provide insight on the dynamics of urban diversity and through a series of statements, we aim to discuss with participants options for the promotion of urban diversity as an asset. We expect vigourous debate and passionate discussion based on the findings of our research in fourteen cities.

In three planned sessions for the Cross Evaluation, we will discuss a range of topical issues and how they relate to diversity at a time when governments across Europe are adopting increasingly hostile tones towards ethnic and cultural diversity. As we take urban diversity to be an asset, we cast our gaze on cities within the European Union who take a more pragmatic and celebratory approach, and who highlight the ways in which diversity contributes to economic competitiveness and a renewed sense of social cohesion. We ask how policy makers, local governments and initiatives can play more positive roles in promoting and working with their communities in the first session.

Session two considers everyday life in diverse neighbourhoods. We ask why do residents choose to live there and how can policymakers and civil society representatives improve support and services for diverse communities, for example, in schools. Social networks can provide protection for immigrants against the perceived pressures of mainstream society and social exclusion, but they can also impose social control. We’ll be debating how negative effects can be limited.

The final session considers the role of diversity in promoting social mobility, economic performance and entrepreneurship. Discussion will centre on how local policies can take in the full spectrum of entrepreneurship rather than focussing on specific categories, for example, creative enterprises or highly skilled entrepreneurs. We’ll also be considering how local governments can assist by providing solid helpful advice.

In the concluding plenary session we’ll move towards policy conclusions. The Cross Evalation Conference will take place in Antwerp, 20-21 September 2016.

DIVERCITIES Educational Programme in Action

Diverse Cities
Image: Vigdis Blach

Designed for high school students, the DIVERCITIES Educational Programme Diverse Cities consists of assignments that provide students with opportunities to learn about and discuss the varying aspects of diversity. Students conduct research in the classroom and within the school neighbourhood to find out how apparent diversity is in the locality. Based on their own research and inspired by DIVERCITIES initiatives across the globe, students propose a neighbourhood initiative that aims to make their neighbourhood more liveable and harmonious.

Johan van Driel has played an instrumental role in developing the DIVERCITIES Education Programme, which is now available in 11 languages. Informed by DIVERCITIES research undertaken in 14 cities, Johan has instigated an inspiring and informative module-based course for 12-15 year old students with the aim of educating them on all aspects of diversity through a range of engaging activities, lectures and discussion topics.

DIVERCITIES researchers have begun the task of taking the Education Programme out to schools. We catch up here with the team in Copenhagen.

Taking advantage of The Danish Research Festival, an annual week long program aiming to spread knowledge and research methods to schools and organisations across the country, the Copenhagen team took the DIVERCITIES Educational Programme out on the road.

The first of two presentations was at the Frederiksborg Gymnasium (high school) in Hillerød where Rikke Skovgaard Nielsen outlined the methodological approach and results of the research to a group of 18-19 year old students taking Social Studies and Natural Science. Lively discussion about diversity followed the presentation with students developing their own neighbourhood initiative based on those taken from DIVERCITIES research.


Rikke notes “I was impressed by the students enthusiasm when concieving their own initiatives and the great variation within the class with respect to the invented initiatives, particular with respect to target groups, scale, concept, time lines and breadth. The students really took the context into account, basing their initiative on, and adapting it to, the specific local context of the neighbourhood they had chosen to focus on. They were very attentive to the concrete challenges of the neighbourhood. Creating social cohesion was in focus in all the initiatives.”

The team’s second presentation was at the Borupgaard Gymnasium in Ballerup. This time the students were in the 17-18 year old age group and were taking Natural Science. While time was short here, enthusiasm was not. The methodological approach and results were outlined followed by discussion on how diversity, both the positive and negative effects, can be defined.

All in all, it was a great success. The Danish team were struck by the students enthusiasm and were greatly impressed with the students clever and creative initiatives. It was clearly evident that creating social cohesion and the effect of a mixed/homogeneous housing composition was of particular interest to the students.

Students at both schools were interested in the role of institutions and school as places of encounter and segregation, providing intriguing discussions with students who spoke openly about their own experiences.

We’ll be reporting on other case study cities in coming months including Warsaw, Paris and Istanbul. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date.

Meet Our New Junior Researchers


What are your expectations of the DIVERCITIES project?

Mirjam Pot, University of Vienna
Mirjam PotDiversity in European cities in increasing. So is inequality. My expectations for the DIVERCITIES project include insights on the relation between these two concepts at the city level. Do – and if so in which way – policies regarding the governance of diversity have an influence on equality? I am looking forward to working with you all on the project, getting to know a lot of other interesting findings, and learning more about diversity and (in)equality.

Lukas Alexander, University of Vienna
Lukas AlexanderA project such as DIVERCITIES with ambiguous goals and a wide international network raises many expectations. I would like to think that we are influencing, maybe even shaping, the future of European cities and the people who live in them. It would be great to see changes as a result of our work. I am looking forward to working in a team and having contact with social scientists all over Europe to understand how their work is connected. As I am at the very beginning of my academic career and therefore have limited experience with scientific projects, I’m hoping to have the chance to improve and use the knowledge I gained in my studies. My own expectations for my work are high. Hopefully I can live up to them and contribute to the success of the DIVERCITIES project.

In Other News

Our concluding conference DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity is scheduled for 9-10 February 2016 in Rotterdam. We’ll have full details in our next newsletter about the programme. Stay tuned via Facebook and Twitter.

The Governing Urban Diversity Stakeholder Meeting took place in Toronto on 26 May 2016. It was a great success and a taste of the upcoming Cross Evaluation Conference in Antwerp.

The third Leipzig Policy Platform took place on 16 June 2016 with discussion focussing on the latest analytical findings concerning inhabitants and the local economy.

Junior researchers Dimitris Balampanidis (Athens) and Tatiana Moreira de Souza (London) have both been awarded PhDs recently after successfully defending their PhD theses. We congratulate both Tatiana and Dimitris.

Launching in July/August, our new website will feature more informative case study pages, a blog to better communicate our news and findings, and a new section devoted to our concluding conference in February 2017. What’s more, it will be responsive and viewable on a range of devices.

Open Access

All our reports are now available on Zenodo, an open-access science repository created by OpenAIRE and CERN, and supported by the European Commission.

Go to: and search for “DIVERCITIES” to find our full list of publications.


Project Manager:
Dr. Marjan Rossen
Utrecht University
Faculty of Geosciences
P.O. Box 80.115
3508 TC Utrecht

Founding Project Coordinator:
Prof. Ronald van Kempen


Consortium Partners & Advisory Board

Lead Partner:
University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Consortium Partners:
University of Vienna, Austria
University of Antwerp, Belgium
Aalborg University, Denmark
University of Tartu, Estonia
University Paris-Est Créteil, France
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany
Fachhochschule Erfurt, Germany
National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), Greece
University of Szeged, Hungary
University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Netherlands
Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
synergo Mobility-Politics-Space GmbH, Switzerland
Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey
University College London, United Kingdom

Advisory Board:
Jan Vranken, University of Antwerp, Belgium
David Hulchanski, University of Toronto, Canada

© DIVERCITIES, Utrecht University, 2015

LEGAL NOTICE: The views expressed in this newsletter are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

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