Ghent 2023

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Future Urban Agricultural Heritage

Preliminary ideas on the International Student Programme in Ghent (will be updated)

Ghent University is partnered with the city in the development of its food strategy.

The IP will focus on the expanding role of local urban governance in accelerating the sustainable transition of agricultural production on the peri-urban fringe towards more locally oriented and sustainable forms of farming. Starting from the specific needs of such sustainable and locally oriented farming models, the programme will explore how the City of Ghent could create a supportive and beneficial context for such farming models to thrive and what specific planning tools it could use to bring this context about. The intensive programme will be hosted in the context of the ‘Stadsacademie’, an existing collaboratorium and living lab of the city, civil society and academic partners. The aim of the ‘Stadsacademie’ is to create the context for transdisciplinary knowledge exchange in light of concrete sustainability challenges the city of Ghent is facing. The workshop will build on existing explorations of the urban food question within this context. Through a focus group methodology engaging peri-urban farmers, specific inputs will be collected, for a speculative planning exercise aimed at the development of new land management tools, the development of innovative forms of infrastructure aimed at supporting sustainable farming beyond the level of the farm, and innovative forms of governance to nourish new urban-rural linkages and solidarities. The context of the ‘Stadsacademie’ guarantees a context of close collaboration between the city and the university and will provide a context in which participants of the intensive programme will be able to learn both from the academic expertise offered by local and international tutors as well as from the experience of the local host and the communities of practice present in the Ghent context. Important questions for the Intensive Programme are: How can urban land management tools be used to facilitate the transition to sustainable farming? Which aspects of peri-urban farming are hard to facilitate at the farm level and are best provided at the ‘landscape’ level? At what scale and in what form should such measures be implemented? What specific forms of exchange between urban and rural actors should be imagined in order to support the (economic) livelihood of peri-urban farmers?

Proposed programme

  1. Day 1: Travel
  2. Day 2: Welcome at the university, first introduction to the case study area: its economic, social, natural and cultural context.
  3. Day 3: Thematic interdisciplinary teams specify how they wish to gather empirical data for their approach. Further thematic and theory inputs by staff members, local experts and representants of stakeholder groups
  4. Day 4: Exploration of / visit to the project area: meeting different stakeholders, local initiatives and experts
  5. Day 5: Stakeholder consultation continues, afternoon: groups start with their research activities, consultation by staff members and local experts
  6. Day 6: Groups develop concepts for the strategy and first proposals for interventions Day 7: Groups develop proposals and elaborate interventions, if necessary consult stakeholders
  7. Day 8: Preparation of project presentations
  8. Day 9: Presentation of project results to local stakeholders, discussion/public panel
  9. Day 10: travel back home.