CES Summer School

Artistic and other Creative Practices as Drivers for Urban Resilience

September 5 to 7, 2016

Museu Municipal de Espinho



Thematic area(s) of the course 
Artistic and creative practices, urban resilience, urban sustainability

Course description
Urban sustainable development requires enhancing urban resilience. In this Summer School, we look at resilience as a space for translocal bottom-up learning, emerging artistic-cultural-ecological approaches or as a ‘Space of Possibilities’. Resilience for us is openness, possibility, emergence, creation, non-structuration, art, praxis, mutual learning and doing . . . It is not a 10-point governmental program to be implemented (e.g., early warning, knowledge transfer, etc.).

Several key characteristics of resilience (redundancy, diversity, learning modes, and self-organization) can potentially be fostered in urban neighborhoods through creative practices entangling natural and cultural resources and processes such as “ecological art” and “social practice” interventions, “urban gardening” projects, autonomous social-cultural centers fighting against gentrification, and artivist actions that question unsustainable city planning and societal behaviours. However, how far does the potential of such practices reach? When and how do they scale up to wider urban institutions as drivers of transformations, fostering systemic innovations? What limits and challenges do they encounter? How far do they foster urban resilience towards sustainability as a transformative search process of fundamental change, or are they coopted into neoliberal urban development? What recurrent processes and structures can be observed across different contexts? And how can we learn from these in order to support transformative processes?

The summer school, conceived as an extended workshop, will explore comparative insights across different urban initiatives and projects. We invite researchers, artists, and practitioners to address together several sets of questions and reflect on their empirical research, previous project experiences, and expertise from different cities. Insights emerging from the workshop will inform, and be informed by, the ongoing international comparative research project/network “Culturizing Sustainable Cities: Catalyzing translocal learning and advancement of emerging artistic-cultural environmental approaches”, initiated by the Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and the transdisciplinary research project “The City as Space of Possibility” at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany. In addition, insights from the summer school will be disseminated through Cultura21, an international network of cultural practitioners, researchers, and others (e.g., cultural policymakers) who are focused on advancing cultures of sustainability.

Researchers (multidisciplinary), graduate students and post-docs, artists, and practitioners working with community-based artistic and sustainability/resilience initiatives

During the pre-registration process, applicants are asked to submit [HERE] a brief statement on the relevant project(s)/initiative(s) with which they are involved, and why they want to attend the summer school. These statements will be reviewed as part of the participant selection process. EXTENDED DEADLINE: Wednesday June 15, 2016. All applicants will be notified of selection process results ASAP.

Researchers responsible
Nancy Duxbury (CES) and Sacha Kagan (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

Core Team
Nathalie Blanc, Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France
Nancy Duxbury, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra
David Haley, Manchester Metropolitan University, England
Verena Holz, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany
Sacha Kagan, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany; ESA RN2; Cultura21

Earlybird rate - (EXTENDED to June 15): € 150
Late rate from June 16 (if spaces still available): € 165
Fee includes: Summer School registration and materials | Welcome BBQ or dinner on Sept 5 | Lunch on Sept 6 and 7 | Breaks (5)

Accommodation and dinner on Sept. 6 at own cost.

Maximum number of registrations: 25 | Minimum number of registrations: 20

Getting to Espinho
Espinho can be easily reached by train from Porto – Campanhã station. See for train schedules and prices

Summer school organized by Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra, in collaboration with the ESA (European Sociological Association) Research Network Sociology of the Arts and its 9th Midterm Conference being held in Porto September 8-10, 2016. The insights generated at the summer school will be shared in a workshop at the Midterm Conference.

Scientific projects relating to the course
“Culturizing Sustainable Cities: Catalyzing Translocal Learning and Advancement of emerging Artistic-cultural Environmental Approaches” – Nancy Duxbury, CES
“The City as Space of Possibility” – Volker Kirchberg, Ute Stoltenberg, Ursula Weisenfeld, and Sacha Kagan, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

More information

This is a self-funded, non-profit Summer School



The course will consist of 7 phases over two and a half days, alternating between plenary exchanges and working sessions in smaller groups:

1. Setting the Stage (plenary afternoon + informal evening – September 5th)
In the opening plenary, an overview of the summer school will be presented (including its structure and its working concepts), then each participant will be given a brief presentation time to introduce themself and to present one specific project, group, or activity in which they are involved (whether as researcher, artist, activist, and/or other type of participation). The evening will consist of an informal programme during which participants can learn more about each other and the projects that were introduced, and to set the stage for a collaborative atmosphere over the next 2 days.

2. Asking questions and reflecting on questions (plenary – morning of September 6th)
To begin this session, moderators will briefly introduce the themes and suggest 4 categories of research questions reflecting key dimensions of (socio-ecological) creative practice (see working questions listed below). Participants will then reflect on the questions, from their perspectives as a researcher, artist, activist, and/or practitioner, with attention to their own biases and issues regarding transdisciplinary research. A facilitated discussion will then enable these reflections to be brought forward to re-think/revise the questions, and potentially complement them with additional questions.

Possible question themes/categories:

Values - In sustainability-searching (ecological, social, political, etc.) creative/artistic practices, which values are articulated and how do they show up in these activities? Do these practices foster self-reflection on these values? If yes, how? (i.e., How do the professed values relate to the practice?)

Learning processes and knowledge - Which learning processes are embedded in these practices? Which forms of knowledge emerge from these practices?

Creative practices - What kinds of individual and social/collective creativity are manifested?

Participation - What functions does participation fulfill for the artistic/creative projects? What kind of participatory culture is claimed by the participants, in comparison with what can be observed in the practice?

3. Comparative explorations (split into 4 to 6 groups – September 6th, late morning)
Each group will focus on at least 2 out of the 4 categories of questions. Participants will explore the questions with reference to their own research/practice projects on resilience and sustainability in specific urban contexts (whether completed or ongoing), and especially to their own experiences with specific artistic interventions, creative urban practices, and/or urban practices at the nature/culture nexus. In this process, they will also reflexively consider to what extent these questions are relevant and important to more deeply understanding the practice, or need to be rethought and modified. Each group will capture the key points of their discussion in written form as their discussion unfolds.

After lunch, a Reporting Out and overall synthesis of the small group discussions and reflections will be conducted in plenary, with key points reported by question-area, followed by overall assessments and reflections.

Workshop: Intertexting Espinho: Writing the Urban (outside – September 6th afternoon)
This workshop will address the writing practices of a moving reality through the sensory experience of spaces as well as their imaginary experience (fiction, memory). It is mainly built around a field writing workshop which will permit testing new urban exploration methods (artistic use of augmented reality, experimental tourism, de-tourism) and involve descriptive issues along with writing practices. Two entries will frame the workshop : the long-time movements (describe/write the dynamics and transformations of urban spaces, their heritage) and the short-time movements (describe/write the immediacy of the individual multisensory experience of displacement, its objects, based on certain forms like traveling, wandering, peregrination, stroll as much as its figures : circumvention, stop, a visit…

4. Looking for trouble (plenary – September 6th afternoon)
In this session, we will explore the difficulties/challenges and limits encountered within artistic and other creative interventions and initiatives, as well as the difficulties/challenges and limits encountered by researchers working with them. Based on insights from existing research and practitioners’/artists’ experiences, this will include:

● Looking at potential or observed issues within these practices. This could be, for example, the lack of integration of “hands,” “mind,” and “heart” in ‘Transition Town’ initiatives, or the gap between knowing and acting.

● Looking into different types of relationships (of cooperation/collaboration, competition, opposition, manipulation) between particular artistic/creative initiatives and wider social movements.

● Looking into issues stemming from relationships with local governments, such as impermeability of sectoral policy departments, ‘schizophrenic’ urban policies, and/or neo-liberal urban development, and how these are addressed.

● Looking into potential tensions between process-oriented approaches vs. approaches seeking immediate fixes (e.g., technical “solutions”), and into limits to deeper learning processes.

● Identifying and looking into perverse feedback effects, unintended consequences, and equivalents of “rebound effects” negatively affecting urban resilience in the area of artistic and creative cultural practices for sustainability.

5. Finding key leverage points (mix of plenary and split groups – September 7th, whole morning)
We revisit the issues discussed yesterday afternoon, looking for key leverage points for social transformation that are relevant in specific contexts and maybe also trans-locally. This process will start with the playing of a systems-thinking game and inputs by the organizers, introducing “leverage points” thinking. We will then alternate short cycles of split groups and plenary exchanges.

6. Interrogating resilience (split into 4 to 6 groups - September 7th, over lunch and early afternoon)
How do different forms of creativity contribute to urban resilience? Taking into account the complex issues and potential leverage points that were articulated in previous sessions, we go into smaller groups to refocus more deeply on the specific cases known by the participants. The participants will discuss which specific characteristics of resilience (redundancy, diversity, learning modes, self-organization) are affected by artistic and other creative practices, and consider to what extent these effects have been researched in the context of urban cultural practices. Where is further research most urgently needed? What kind of research is required? In this phase, participants will also consider the integration of cultural/social and ecological dimensions of urban resilience, and discuss the “scaling up” potentials: Beyond their immediate effects, to which social innovations and which specific areas of urban sustainability do the creative practices (discussed so far) contribute? How does or can this materialize itself in systemic manners, for example, as institutional innovations at a city-wide level?

Each group will capture the key points of each discussion in written form.

7. Synthesis and outlook (plenary – September 7th late afternoon)
First, a Reporting Out / Synthesis of phases 5 and 6 will be conducted in plenary, with time for further reflections and discussion in the session. Finally, participants will share concluding reflections on the summer school and an outlook on possible next steps and further exchanges.

The small group discussions will be captured on paper (with contact info for any follow-up clarifications that may be necessary), and plenary sessions will be audio-recorded and/or filmed. Nancy Duxbury and Sacha Kagan will coordinate a synthesis/reflections report, to be prepared following the course, which will be disseminated to summer school participants and then across our networks and online platforms. Some of the insights from the summer school will also be shared at the European Sociological Association – Sociology of the Arts Research Network conference in Porto, which follows right after the summer school.



Nathalie Blanc is Director of Research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France, and Director of the Laboratory LADYSS UMR 7533 CNRS ( Her main contributions to research are in the area of nature in urban settings and in the field of environmental aesthetics. In 2016, two books are to be published: Formes de l’environnement. Manifeste pour une esthétique politique / Forms of the environment. Manifesto for political aesthetics (MétisPresse Editions) and Change, Uncertainty and Engagement: Art and Environment (Routledge). Between 2015 and 2019 she will be a delegate of the European project “New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’” (European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research – COST). It should be noted that her creative activity is not limited to geographical research but also possesses a strong aesthetic dimension. This is not merely a “spiritual supplement” but an ecopoetic concern that is, more and more often, overearching her research work on nature in the city and environmental aesthetics.

Nancy Duxbury is a Researcher and Co-coordinator of the “Cities, Cultures and Architecture” research group at CES. Her current research examines strategies to integrate cultural considerations within local sustainability initiatives, and cultural mapping approaches and methodologies. She is Principal Investigator of the research project “Culturizing Sustainable Cities” ( She is also an Adjunct Professor of the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. Her past research has examined municipal involvement in cultural development, cultural infrastructure, cultural indicators, cultural policy, and book publishing. Recent publications include: Animation of Public Space through the Arts: Toward More Sustainable Communities (published by Almedina in 2013), Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry (co-edited with W.F. Garrett-Petts and D. MacLennan; Routledge 2015), and Culture and Sustainability in European Cities: Imagining Europolis (co-edited with S. Hristova and M. Dragićević Šešić; Routledge 2015).

Ecological artist David Haley is a Senior Research Fellow in MIRIAD and Director of the Ecology In Practice research group at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is also a Visiting Professor at Zhongyuan University of Technology; Research Advisor to Transart Institute; Vice Chair of the CIWEM Art & Environment Network, Trustee of the Futures’ Venture Foundation, a member of UNESCO UK Man and the Biosphere Urban Forum, the Society for Ecological Restoration, and the Ramsar Culture Network Arts Group. As well as publishing on questions of ‘capable futures’, climate change, ecological arts and transdisciplinarity, his selected projects include: In Ginkgo Time (2015) a poem performed to question the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima; A Walk on the Wild Side 2004-13) / Walkabout the City (2015 on-going) urban ecology performed through acts of community walking; Making Our Futures: the Art of Sustainable Living (2008- 16) research, learning and teaching to survive Climate Change in China, Taiwan, Spain and Manchester; Life Support System (2012-13), for Hong Kongers living with Climate Change; Meantime… Desert Poetics (2012-13), a poetic mapping of global desertification from Portugal; A Dialogue with Oysters: the Art of Facilitation (2008- ongoing), a new creation myth emerging from the mingling of freshwater and rising seas; Trees of Grace (2008- cont.), a thousand-year long projectfor the Mersey Basin becoming an analogue forest.

Verena Holz is Research Associate at Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) and investigator in the transdisciplinary research project “The City as Space of Possibility” ( There she is in charge of the research area “education, competencies, values and cultural forms of knowledge.” As a cultural scientist she works in the fields of education for sustainable development (ESD) und urban sustainable development and is specialized in linkages to cultural and artistic education. Her general research interests focus on the role of cultural science-based perspectives and their implementation in sustainability approaches as well as in formal and non-formal educational contexts. Verena is part of the network cultural education and ESD (partnership network to the Global Action Program) and member of the expert panel “ESD in Informal Education” appointed by the German Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the Global Action Program on ESD (2015-2020). Verena coordinates a three-nation academic network on teacher education for sustainability – LeNa (, which is a sub-network of the UNESCO Network “Reorienting Teacher Education towards Sustainability,” founded in 1999 at York University (Canada).

Sacha Kagan is Research Associate at Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) and Principal Investigator at the transdisciplinary research project “The City as Space of Possibility” ( in charge of the research area “creative and artistic practices for a sustainable urban development.” He is the Chair of the Research Network “Sociology of the Arts” at the European Sociological Association (ESA RN 2), organizing the network’s 9th midterm conference (“Arts and Creativity: Working on Identity and Difference”) in Porto on September 8-10 2016 ( and an active member of Cultura21 (founding coordinator of the international network, eBooks series editor, former vice-president of the German association) and of other scientific and artistic networks (ecoartnetwork, walking artists network, etc.). Generally, his research deals with artistic practices and sustainability as well as with urban cultures of sustainability. His research approach seeks to contribute to transdisciplinarity through the integration of social sciences, phenomenology, arts-based research, and art theory. Website:

Application form

Reminder: Please register at the same time you are sending this information - earlybird registration deadline is May 1, 2016.





Hotels, Residential, Hostel Special Rates

The Summer School has arranged special rates with the following hotels in Espinho. Bookings must be made by email with your request and indicating that the booking is for the “Artistic and other Creative Practices as Drivers for Urban Resilience” Summer School. All bookings must be made before May 31, 2016.

Note: Hotel M, Hotel Mar Azul, and Residencial Espinho are managed by Grupo M Hotéis. Details about these hotels and the residential are available here: | Email reservation requests to:


Hotel M
35€/night – 1 person in room
50€/night – 2 people in room

Hotel Mar Azul
35€/night – 1 person in room
50€/night – 2 people in room

Residencial Espinho
25€/night – 1 person in room
35€/night – 2 people in room
Each room has private bathroom

18th Street Hostel
25€/night – 2 or 4 beds in room
20€/night – 2 bunk beds (4 beds) in room
Shared bathrooms.

Details about the Hostel:






Presentation Programme Bios Application form Accomodation Registration