Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF


DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity Conference. Creating social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in today’s hyper-diversified cities.

View this email in your browser


Welcome to the 12th and final DIVERCITIES newsletter. Launched in March 2013, DIVERCITIES brought together 17 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 was to examine how diversity can foster social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in European cities.

In this issue:

Our Scientific Steering Committee on DIVERCITIES
Summary of the DIVERCITIES Research Project
DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity Conference in Review
The Diversity Mini-Festival
The City Book Series
The Future
In Brief

Our Scientific Steering Committee on DIVERCITIES

As the DIVERCITIES Research project draws to a conclusion this week, three lead researchers give their perspective on the experience and what the future holds.

Gideon Bolt, Utrecht University

It has been a pleasure to work together with so many people on our research project in 14 different cities. The research consortium consisted of around 60 people, in various stages of their academic career, who met twice a year to discuss our approach and findings. Each research team was supported by a national Policy Platform. That means that we have been enriched by the insights of roughly 150 stakeholders, representing a variety of public and private organisations, working in our cities or on higher (regional, national) policy levels. In each city we interviewed dozens of policymakers, other stakeholders, and leaders of bottom-up initiatives for our research. Moreover, we interviewed at least 50 residents and 40 entrepreneurs in each research area. In total, we have undertaken roughly 1,700 interviews. It has been a very rewarding task for our consortium to synthesize this enormous amount of rich information into our Policy Briefs, our City Books and our forthcoming Handbook.

Mike Raco, University College London

In an era in which the enlightenment project based on principles of openness and engagement are coming under unprecedented attack, and new barriers between people and societies are being constructed by reactionary groups, the need for greater understanding of what urban diversity is and how it impacts on cities and citizens has taken on an unprecedented importance. The extraordinary levels of active participation and engagement at our final conference in Rotterdam demonstrated clearly just how important issues of diversity remain to practitioners, community groups, and academics. Our research has shown, categorically, that many of the fears about diversity in European cities have been exaggerated. We have presented evidence that shows that city authorities have been particularly adept at finding positive ways of working with diversity and that for many residents the presence of diversity enriches their quality of life and their opportunities for employment and economic advantage. What is now required is a more informed, honest, and open debate over the appropriate direction of diversity policies in European cities and what their core principles and objectives should be.

Tuna Tasan-Kok, University of Amsterdam

I believe that, having this project as a basis, future policy in this field needs to pay more attention to two important points: First of all, diversity focus in European urban policy making should not be used to bypass systematic issues such as racism or social, economic or spatial inequalities. On the contrary, by creating stronger political awareness at all scales with regards to the presence of urban diversity, it should target the systematic inequalities in our urban societies. And secondly, having a new political economic climate within the EU and increasing tension among the member states to deal with the increasing number of immigrants and refugees in mind, more attention should be given to operationalize policy approaches such as hyper-diversity. New operational approaches are needed to connect people in an inclusive and just way based on their needs but not to divide them along presumed identities, and to prevent the increasing tension and polarization in European urban societies.

Image: Participants on the Rotterdam West Walk, a part of the Governing Urban Diversity Conference by Demi Verbraeken.

Summary of the DIVERCITIES Research Project

The primary mission of our project, in a nutshell, was to provide evidence of the positive outcomes concerning social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance that may emerge from greater urban diversity and to document and highlight the significant role that local urban policy initiatives can play in developing and stimulating those positive outcomes. We believe that we achieved this target by introducing a new policy approach, hyper-diversity, which suggests a shift away from policies that target standard social categories. Hyper-diversity as an approach suggests that we look at diversity in cities beyond the needs of standardized categories of residents, or beyond standardized neo-assimilationist integration efforts, by focusing on the activities, actions and dynamics of diverse groups of people, which define the actual needs that exist in the city.

Read the full report here.

DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity Conference in review

From all reports our concluding conference was a resounding success. It took place at De Doelen in Rotterdam in February 2017. We have put together some of the highlights from the programme here.

We were very pleased that Korrie Louwes, the former Vice-Mayor of Rotterdam for Labour Market, Higher Education, Innovation and Participation opened the conference. Her impassioned and informative presentation centred on Rotterdam providing a perfect introduction to the event. Our SSC were next to take to the stage presenting highlights and key conclusions from four years of intensive research. Four keynote addresses followed:

Paul Scheffer, Professor at the School of Humanities at Tilburg University launched into a broad ranging presentation of cultural issues considering ‘big’ themes from racism to immigration, to everyday matters and the politics of the use of certain words. His address is available to watch here.

Janet L Smith, Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy Department & Co-Director, Nathalie P Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, University of Illinois at Chicago presented an overview of the immigrant background of the Chicago detailing its history as a city of neighbourhoods. Her engaging presentation can be viewed here.

Ümit Kɩzɩltan, A/Associate ADM Strategic and Program Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, was our third keynote speaker. He tackled diversity and immigration with a heartfelt talk about public anxiety and choosing inclusion and hope over fear. You can see his address here.

Ruth Fincher, Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne, was our final keynote speaker bringing the conference near to its end. Planning, diversity and equality was the title of Ruth’s presentation, one that referenced her enduring work in the field. Watch her keynote here.

Our final presenation was by Irena Guidikova, Head of Division Intercultural Cities Programme, Council of Europe. Irena introduced the key themes her research: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Hear what Irena has to say here.

In total, 18 interactive workshops on a broad range of themes took place over the course of the conference. Most were led by our researchers, and all brought together key thinkers and actors in the field of diversity. We’ve put together a small selection of images from the workshops on our blog, where you can also find other information about the conference in general.

The Diversity Mini-Festival

What better way to round-off a day of intense discussion and participation in engaging workshops than to experience all that diversity has to offer from the research district of Feijenoord in Rotterdam South?

Over the past three years Anouk Tersteeg has conducted fieldwork in the south of Rotterdam for DIVERCITIES. After an extensive search, we were unable to find a suitable location for the DIVERCITIES conference in Rotterdam South. This led us to the Diversity Mini-Festival idea as a way to bring one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the Netherlands into the city centre. While many residents and entrepreneurs in the case study area are relatively disadvantaged, the area is home to numerous innovative and creative residents, businesses and initiatives that use diversity to achieve their social and economic goals.

The Mini-Festival was a great success with a friendly, lively environment complete with drinks, music and a diverse range of delicious treats. The inspiring initiatives presented three enjoyable performances featuring rap music, fashion and spoken word. One of the highlights of the mini-festival was that conference visitors were able to speak with the local initiatives to learn about their approaches to their neighbourhood. In fact, a raffle saw prizes given to those conference participants who acquainted themselves with all of the initiatives.

We have been encouraged by the ample positive feedback we have received about the event from both conference visitors and participants of local initiatives alike. The latter were pleasantly surprised by the interest shown in their work.

We’ll be posting images and anecdotes from the Mini-Festival on our blog in coming weeks. Stay tuned.

The City Book Series

One of our major publications is the City Book series, 14 in-depth reports on the issues that have faced/are still facing the case study areas in relation to social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance. The books are available to download as PDFs from our website.

The Future

While our research for the DIVERCITIES project has drawn to a close, our work is not quite finished. We’re currently working on the Handbook of Governing Urban Diversity expected out in April 2017. It’s a magazine-style reference manual full of useful advice for policymakers about how to effectively govern for urban diversity.We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with our research project over the past four years, particularly the residents and entrepreneurs from each of the case study areas who generously gave their time to take part in interviews. Without your help there would be no research. Our appreciation goes out to all the stakeholders in each city who offered their assistance and feedback in ways that enriched the study. And lastly, a big thank you to all the researchers past and present who worked tirelessly to produce the substantial work required.

And finally, we hope we did Ronald proud with the conference, and that his work and personality will keep inspiring us into the future.

In Brief:

Thank you to Geertje Speelman, Lydia Bogert, Lotte van Ham, Luiza Moreira da Rocha Amaral de Souza and Demi Verbraecken (who also produced the conference posters) for their work with the organisation of the conference.Our conference highlights video is expected very soon. Thank you to both Frank Hoyinck and Kieren Scannel for their dedicated work thoughout the conference.

Governing Urban Diversity: What can policymakers and civil society learn from DIVERCITIES? is our latest Policy Brief and can be downloaded on our website along with the latest City Reports.

Keep up-to-date with the latest DIVERCITIES news

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 Coordinator:

Dr. Gideon Bolt
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

This project has received funding from the European
Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research,
technological development and demonstration under
grant agreement No. 319970. SSH.2012.2.2.2-1;
Governance of cohesion and diversity in urban contexts.

© DIVERCITIES, Utrecht University, 2016

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.

Our mailing address is:
Utrecht University
Faculty of Geosciences
Heidelberglaan, 2
3508 TC Utrecht

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list