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2018/2019  KAN-CCBLC1001U  Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

English Title
Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 15
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Luise Noring - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Supply chain management and logistics
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 21-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Identifying ways in which Nordhavn and HafenCity meet and do not meet the social sustainability demands of a modern metro, including the social composition of the citizens living in the neighbourhoods and understanding their ability to integrate into the social fabric of the neighbourhood.
  • Determining in which ways Nordhavn and HafenCity meet environmental sustainability measures, including measures put in place to address climate adaptation and migration in the face of storm water, waste management, green building standards, energy efficiency, etc.
  • Find ways to tackle freight transportation in densely populated areas, so that freight does not add needlessly to congestion and pollution.
  • Explore how specific sustainability tools and methods can address and solve multiple urban problems, such as improve traffic flows and handle storm water or provide green spaces and migrate rain water or ensure access without increasing traffic congestion, etc.
  • Present recommendations of how to include urban nature-based solutions in the urban development in order to diminish pollution, congestion and improve liveability
  • Strengthening public transport connectivity, so that citizens can access jobs and other opportunities easily and cheaply.
  • Demonstrate new collaboration models for public, private and civic actors to engage in and leverage on for urban transportation systems that are people-centered and community-driven
Course prerequisites

The core seminar will take place during August 2018 in Copenhagen and Hamburg. The dates are:

Hamburg: August 6th – August 14th 2018
Travel Day: August 15th 2018
Copenhagen: August 16th – August 24th 2018

Please visit website for further information; www.urbanchallengealliance.com
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved: 2
Compulsory home assignments
Midterm project presentations in groups.

Final project presentation after the weeks of exchange to teachers and case company.
Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A new case will be developed for re-exam students.
Description of the exam procedure

Each student must deliver a individually written report reflecting on the process and outcome of their group projects. 

Course content and structure

The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is offered simultaneously by Copenhagen Business School, Technical University of Denmark, and HafenCity University in Hamburg. Students from all three universities are taught together spending one-and-a-half week in Copenhagen and one-and-a-half week in Hamburg. We offer student grants of 275 EURO to all students attending the course. Course contents are innovative, practice-oriented and trans-disciplinary. Student performance will be assessed according to learning objective specific to their home institutions. The core assignment during the three weeks will be an interdisciplinary group work and an individual paper based on the group results.


Course Context

The vision of the Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is to create a trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural learning experience for students, researchers, and practitioners that build capacity to identify and solve complex urban issues sustainably and collaboratively across sectors.

Cities are considered to be the melting pots of modern society - the proximity and density of people and organisations tend to foster innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. One of the biggest challenges in the 21st century is to plan urbanised areas and to design public policies in such a manner that they facilitate thriving businesses, organisations and people, while addressing global environmental and social challenges, such as climate change, immigration and income disparities. At the same time, numerous companies cater to the growing demands of urban citizens and local city governments in everything from fast moving consumer goods to housing, infrastructure and energy. The challenge is to balance the many public and private expectations on urban space, - without losing sight of urban sustainability. Thus, the Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge takes a citywide and regional development perspective on public, private, and non-profit sector actions that shape solutions to the most pressing issues of today’s societies.


Students will conduct a comparative analysis of HafenCity in Hamburg and Nordhavn in Copenhagen contextualizing both districts within the larger development patterns of the metro-regions of Hamburg and Copenhagen. A specific focus will be on finding a sustainable balance of regional, citywide and district needs regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation, housing of immigrants, and dealing with income disparities. Assessing the role of the districts within the larger context will enable students to identify drivers within private, public, and non-profit activities that could enhance the districts and cities ability to address these challenges in a sustainable manner. Based on their initial analysis, students will identify sustainable public, private and non-profit sector solutions to the identified urban challenges within the environmental, social and economic realms. The solutions may include for instance public policy changes, introduction of new standards, new business opportunities, infrastructure projects or non-profit advocacy campaigns.


The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge intends to achieve the following:

  • Build a lasting collaboration between students and faculty of Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Business School and HafenCity University in Hamburg;

  • Develop a foundational unit for trans-disciplinary and cross-country and -city approaches to research, teaching and learning within urban sustainability; 

  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship skills of higher education researchers, teachers, graduate students and practitioners within urban sustainability; 

  • Facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge within urban sustainability through mobility and cross-city cooperation between Copenhagen and Hamburg. 

  • To establish a dialogue and close collaboration with key business stakeholders and thereby strengthen the relationship between universities, cities and local businesses. 

  • Foster meaningful collaborations between economists, engineers, political scientists, social scientists, life scientists, urban planners, policymakers, developers amongst others/and many others.

The partner company Rambøll will share insights and experience as a leading engineering and design consultancy.


Course Structure

The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge proceeds during a six to eight week, including one-and-a-half weeks of exchange in Hamburg followed by one-and-a-half weeks in Copenhagen. Students will work together in mixed study-groups across culture and disciplinary backgrounds. The first one-and-a-half weeks students must select a focus on climate change, immigration or social income disparities and start preparing initial analysis for their cities regarding citywide needs.


By the end of the first one-and-a-half weeks the initial citywide analysis should be finalized, the actual exchange will take place with three weeks of fieldwork in Copenhagen and Hamburg. The stay in Copenhagen and Hamburg is structured through lectures, company visits, group and fieldwork, and project presentation. During the group work, students will examine the case study in relation to citywide needs and compare the two case studies towards identifying public, private and/ or non-profit approaches to address the needs.

  • Students will be grouped into cross-institutional teams so as to identify and analyse complex urban challenges – teams may choose to focus on either climate change, immigration or income disparities at the district and citywide scale;
  • Assess new technologies and models for sustainable change;
  • Identify the interdependencies, actors and networks of the chosen urban challenge;
  • Evaluate the scope and viability of potential solutions that help tackle the chosen urban challenge;
  • Uncover potential innovative business opportunities for tackling the chosen urban challenge;
  • Work alongside leading companies who are actively seeking to make lasting changes within cities.


Guiding questions for the course are the following: How do we make decisions in cities while considering global challenges such as immigration, climate change, and growing income disparities? How supportive are our government policies and relationships with enterprises to meet these challenges? What are the agents of change and who is leading the way? How do NGO’s gain legitimacy and influence local city governments? The case studies of HafenCity and Nordhavn will help build an understanding of how these neighbourhood transformations can be implemented, and who the active partners are, including public, private and civic, that were engaged in the development, and what their role and interaction is. Questions such as; 1) who is driving the development, 2) who is financing the development, and 3) how sustainable is the development.


To contextualize the two case studies, students will be presented with a selection of other ‘real-life’ cases.



Student performance will be assessed according to learning objective specific to their home institutions. The core assignment during the three weeks will be the interdisciplinary group work. Groups will be mixed from all universities. The groups will present twice: On the last day in Hamburg and in Copenhagen. HCU and DTU only offer the course as a 5CP class, therefore, the student presentations will be graded. Students from CBS that take the course for 7.5 CP will have to submit an additional exam as specific to the requirements of their home institution.


Description of the teaching methods
The Hamburg-Copenhagen Urban Challenge programme is a total of three weeks, with 1,5 weeks in each partner city. Up to 15 students from each university (45 in total) will work together throughout the programme in mixed study groups across cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The stays in Hamburg and Copenhagen are structured through lectures, seminars, site visits, individual study time, group work, and project presentations.

Participants are expected to take part in all planned activities, and help make the elective a great experience for everyone, both academically and culturally.
Feedback during the teaching period
Supervision with course responsible will be available prior to the final project presentation.

Student workload
Lectures 60 hours
Site visits 25 hours
Group Work 40 hours
Preparation 50 hours
Written report 40 hours
Further Information

Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements. However, we do provide a student travelling grant of 275 EURO per student.



Expected literature

Bridges, W. (1986), Managing Spatial Transition. Organizational Dynamics 15(1), 24-33.


Bulkeley, H., Betsill, M. (2005), Rethinking sustainable cities: Multi-level governance and the 'urban' politics of climate change. Environmental Politics 14, 42-63.


Bulkeley, H., Betsill, M.M. (2003), Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global Environmental Governance. Routledge, London.


Bulkeley, H., Castan Broto, V. (2012), Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.


Burch, S., Shaw, A., Dale, A., Robinson, J. (Forthcoming) Triggering transformative change: A development path approach to climate change response in communities. Climate Policy.


Frantzeskaki, N., Loorbach, D., Meadowcroft, J. (2012), Governing transitions to sustainability: transition management as a governance approach towards pursuing sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development 15, 19-36.


Fröhlich, J., Knieling, J. (2013), Conceptualizing Climate Change Governance. In: J.


Knieling & W. Leal Filho (Eds.), Climate Change Governance: Series Climate Change Management (pp. 14-31). Heidelberg: Springer.


IPCC - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2014). Fifth Assessment Report. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Retrieved on March 15, 2015 from http:/​/​www.ipcc.ch/​report/​ar5/​wg3/​


Nevens, F., Frantzeskaki, N., Gorissen, L., Loorbach, D. (2012), Urban Transition Labs: co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities. Journal of Cleaner Production.


Rode, Carsten (2012), Global Building Physics, Journal of Building Physics, 36(4), pp. 337–352

Last updated on 21-02-2018