The Network Beyond Ivory Towers
The International Network on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures is thought to engage in three main fields of professional practice: research, education and exchange regarding experience and knowledge transfer in the fields of public spaces and urban cultures. One of the networks core aims is to provide transdisciplinary consultancy to various actors and institutional spheres, e.g. to public admistrations, universities and NGO organisations on issues of integration of aspects regarding public spaces and urban cultures into their institutional and individual portfolios.


Focus Field Research Integration, Agenda Setting and Complexity
Our research areas public spaces and urban cultures are integrated in various disciplines: sociology, architecture, urban studies, urban design, spatial planning, political studies, cultural studies, anthropology, ethnology, the arts and landscape architecture. As transdisciplinary work is a mutual challenge, we try to address issues for a broader audience and reflect upon particularities of specific professional discourses. By means of manifold expertises brought into the inquiry of public spaces and urban cultures, we want to reinforce, stimulate and generate agenda setting processes for a more systematic dealing with the potentials and risks that have brought public spaces and urban cultures issues again on the agenda of urban development policy not only in Europe. If cities are considered to be a window to investigate the spatial manifestations of social change, then public spaces can be considered a window within that window city to get to the fine grain of urban social transformations. However, public spaces is by nature a multidisciplinary field of study. Thus, setting up a research agenda for the future that does not negate different expertises in the field is one of the core premises, the network will be working with. At the same time, dealing with complexity does not provide a totality of understanding. However, it provides a fertile ground for expertise to built upon incrementally - as dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.


Focus Field Education Reflexion, Revision and Recommendation.
Our work is currently settled in those disciplines related to spatial theory and spatial practice, that are: Critical human geography, urban planning, urban studies, landscape architecture and architecture. Notably, a number of universities in these fields have set up cross-cutting thematic fields dealing with issues of public spaces and urban cultures. These interdisciplinary, often horizontal institutions do not only bring along new thematic focuses, yet new requirements when it comes to institutional rationalities and enhanced ways of transdisciplinary teaching. How can such educational schemes challenge, support and innovate vertically oriented academic structures? How can academic education be reframed beyond aspects of future competitiveness? If university itself is considered a public space, how can dialogical modes of integration and participation incorporte different expertises and ways to stimulate resource distribution mechanisms beyond departmental or ressort egoisms? How can we make use of "the commons" in a world increasingly characterized by the commodification of knowledge production and academic performances? The focus field education aims at stimulating reflexion and revision of existing academic curricula regarding the thematic fields public spaces and urban cultures, by inverting ideas on prospective professional cultures and open source approaches within the academia.


Focus Field Exchange Debates, Workshops and Forum.

Since the last two decades particularly, new media have provided socities with communication technologies and techniques that can easily contribute to tying up different voices, experiences and opinions in short time and via low-threshold means. However, open source approaches of sharing knowledge, of polling and of integrating everyday local expertise in processes of urban development based on concepts of urban culture and public spaces still tend to implicitly repeat given power structures and dynamics. However, face-to-face contact among colleagues and newcomers to our fields of investigation has not at all become obsolete, but a vital moment of experience and knowledge exchange among non-professionals and professionals, among scholars coming from different disciplines, cultures and generations. By a series of meetings, we offer a sequenced space and time framework for such opportunities of face-to-face debate and exchange which we consider utterly necessary for a prospective future collaboration. First meetings in Helsinki (July 2010), in Vienna (November 2010) and in Delft (xx 2011) are programmed. However, our apologies that at this early moment we cannot materially support transport and accomodation costs, however, the establishment of a project-based application for funding is on our agenda to offer the possibility for different people to join in our events.