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Welcome to the ninth 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.

Ronald van Kempen, 1958-2016

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Ronald van Kempen, our Project Coordinator, passed away on Sunday the 21st of February, 2016. Only a few weeks earlier he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer. We had hoped that he would, at the very least, be there for the remainder of the project, if only watching from a short distance how the project in which he invested so much of his time and energy proceeded and drew to a close. It is very sad to have to complete this research project without his presence. He will be missed.

Not only have we have lost a good friend in Ronald van Kempen, but also a stimulating, clear and direct team leader who was a bright light in diversity and inequality research. Ronald was an active participant at both national and international conferences with organisers delighted to have him as a keynote speaker. He was always welcome at social events too. The DIVERCITIES project has significantly broadened our knowledge on diversity in cities, as well as providing us with an exceptionally stimulating, professional and warm network of researchers across Europe. We will miss Ronald, not only as an integral part of the project, but also as a committed scientist and supportive colleague who strived for excellence and inspired and motivated us greatly in our work. Image: Ineke Deelen.

6th International Consortium Meeting

8-10 February 2016
Milan, Italy

The DIVERCITIES team in Milan

The 6th International Consortium Meeting took place in Milan, Italy from 8 to 10 February 2016 at the University of Milano-Bicocca. With the DIVERCITIES project entering its fourth year, there was much to discuss.

Monday 8 February 2016 saw the juniors meet with a full program starting with a session titled ‘How to get published’ given by Rikke Skovgaard Nielsen (Copenhagen). The aim was to provide the junior researchers with valuable tips to help them get their work published, for example in peer reviewed journals and books. Tine Beneker of Utrecht University outlined the upcoming education programme with the remainder of the day devoted to discussions in and around Work Package 7: Fieldwork Entrepreneurs (WP7). Presentations discussing the writing process were given by Clément Rivière (Paris), Dimitris Balampanidis (Athens) and Katharina Kullmann (Leipzig) followed by a brief discussion chaired by Vigdis Blach (Copenhagen). The researchers broke into four groups to consider WP7 reports concluding with a plenary discussion chaired by Ingmar Pastak (Tallinn).

Yuri Kazepov and Giampaolo Nuvolati, Head of the Department of Sociology and Social Research, welcomed the DIVERCITIES team to Milan on Tuesday 9 February. 2016 is an important year for the project, with many initiatives coming to fruition. Tuna Taşan-Kok provided an overview of upcoming plans marking the start of the meeting.

An insight into Work Package 7: Fieldwork Entrepreneurs followed with Ayda Eraydin chairing a series of three intriguing presentations: Dimitris Balampanidis (Athens), Eduardo Barberis (Milan) and Jamie Kesten (London) outlined their findings. Ayda addressed issues concerning the draft reports themselves and highlighted some unexpected discoveries. The reports will be released later in the year and will provide enlightening information on the state of diversity from an entrepreneurial perspective. Stay tuned for details.

Tine Beneker introduced the Educational Programme set to hit selected schools this year. The programme aims to inform students about how diversity works in the community through a series of interactive projects. The programme was tested in Rotterdam, with Tine discussing the results. The next item on the agenda was the City Books with Mike Raco outlining plans and format for the fourteen city books. He asked the researchers gathered to consider what is it that each book will argue and what is being revealed across the cities collectively in relation to diversity.

Work Package 8: Cross-evaluation was the final agenda item of the day with Stijn Oosterlynck outlining plans for the evaluation sessions. The plans garnered much discussion as some changes were proposed ahead of the evaluation group meetings later in the year. A test event will take place in Toronto in May in an effort to resolve any issues before the final meeting takes place, currently scheduled for September in Antwerp.

Parco Trotter. Image: Filip Piotrowski

Next up, a field trip to the research area in Milan on a very wet evening. Guided by Eduardo Barberis, the team made their way to Parco Trotter where City of Sun, Friends of Parco Trotter discussed their work and initiative. Our second stop was ViaPadova36, where we were warmly welcomed by Rossella Sacco, the project coordinator, who gave us an informative and animated overview of the project. Thank you to Roberta Marzorati for her interpreting work. Our long working day ended with an authentic modern Italian meal at Osteria del Treno in La Sala Liberty, itself a rare example of social achitecture at the end of the 19th century. Photos from the field trip can be found here.

The Grand Assembly was held on Wednesday, 10 February with only lead researchers present. They discussed the upcoming Periodic Report and ideas on how to provide junior researchers with exchange opportunties between our partner institutions. The juniors joined the next session where Gideon Bolt provided an overview of plans for the end conference to be held in February 2016, followed by Yuri Kazepov and Eduardo Barberis outlining the program for the Summer School taking place in Vienna later this year.

Daniele Cologna, Fabio Quassoli and Enzo Mingione

One of the highlights of the meeting was the Masterclass. Daniele Cologna (Codici) gave a passionate presentation titled “Integrating diversity. The role of agency and resources mobilisation in hyperdiverse urban contexts” with Fabio Quassoli and Enzo Mingione providing their viewpoints following Daniele’s lecture. Chaired by Yuri Kazepov, the session followed with questions and opinions from the audience. You can watch it and other masterclasses on our YouTube page.

Tuna Taşan-Kok discussed plans for the Policy Makers Handbook including content and format. Both Tuna and Mike Raco discussed publication strategies for researchers in the afternoon sessions followed by a wrap-up of the meeting.

Interview: Alba Angelucci

Alba discusses her recent exchange experience at TU Delft

Alba Angelucci on the right with Clément Rivière, junior researcher in Paris, on the left

What was your motivation to undertake this challenge?

Well, I think that I was motivated by two different interests. The first was my research with my main aim to conduct comparative analysis between two European cities and, for a series of reasons, I chose Milan and Rotterdam. I already knew people from TU Delft, thanks to the DIVERCITIES project, and I was quite sure that they could help me to face this challenge. Secondly, I have never lived abroad and this was an experience that I really longed for. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from it, but I felt that it was important for my personal and professional development. I decided to challenge myself, being both excited and a little scared at the beginning. My main concern was about the research: I kept thinking: “How will I manage to carry out my fieldwork in another country without any Dutch language skills?” I can now say: “Yes, I did it.”

What did you learn from the experience?

Not only do I feel more self-confident personally, but I also improved my intercultural skills. I know people from all over the world and this enhanced my experience in many ways. I had the opportunity to experience a completely different work environment from what I’m used to and I was able to engage with colleagues from different backgrounds. It was really inspiring.

How did it help your research?

It did help in a couple of ways: firstly, it gave me the opportunity to conduct comparative research; and secondly, I was able to work in a new, lively and intercultural environment which provided a great deal of inspiration. Thanks to the support of the OTB (Research for the Built Environment), I had full access to a huge amount of international literature and, above all, I had very stimulating and helpful discussions with the researchers there.

What advantages did the experience provide?

Well, the advantages were on both personal and professional levels: I grew as a person and progressed as a researcher. There were difficulties to face on both levels, and it was not always easy to overcome those obstacles. But the fact that I eventually managed to overcome them gave me happiness, strength and confidence. I was very lucky to meet wonderful people who supported and helped me in many ways. The possibility to work alongside scholars from across the world was enriching. It can only have had a positive effect on my career as a researcher, and that is just one of the many advantages that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I’m sure other advantages will materialise in the long term, when, thanks to this experience, I’ll be able to face new challenges with vigour.

Would you recommend it for other researchers? And why?
Yes, definitely! It’s such a great experience for researchers. Our work requires, among other things, inspiration, open-mindedness and curiosity. This sort of experience can only feed these characteristics and improve our ability to read and understand the world.

Any other thoughts about the exchange?

It was such a stimulating experience, and it went by so quickly. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to the people who helped me and supported me in the Netherlands, in Italy and from other parts of the world who all made this experience not only possible, but awesome.

Report from the YOUNG DIVERCITIES Seminar

In November 2015, Ronald van Kempen and Gideon Bolt organised the YOUNG DIVERCITIES seminar Encountering and Living with Hyper-Diversity: Young People’s Urban Experiences at Fundatie van Renswoude in Utrecht. Held over two days, the full and invigorating programme included key note addresses from international guests Gill Valentine of the University of Sheffield, Peter Hopkins of Newcastle University and Sirpa Tani of the University of Helsinki. A mix of insightful papers on fascinating topics were given, both from junior DIVERCITIES researchers and from other international guests, generating a great deal of discussion. The seminar was a great success.

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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