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Hacking Cities - Upgrading Urban Life (ABPL20054)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeABPL20054
Winter Term
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Many aspects of city life could be improved, but change seems hard. Some interventions are ineffective, others have unintended side effects. Cities rely on various systems such as transport, health care, energy, education etc. Many urban problems are not malfunctions of these systems but side effects of how they are designed. Hacking means using your knowledge of these system to set up a clever intervention – a hack. A good hack changes systems, contributes to transitions.

This is a highly interdisciplinary subject. You will learn concepts and methods from social science, evolutionary theory, analytic philosophy and other fields notably sustainability transitions research. No background or prior knowledge in any of these is required though and students from all disciplines are invited.

You will design a hack, i.e. an intervention to change systems based on analysis. The hack needs to address a real urban issue and it needs to be realistic in what it proposes to do. You will have to show that your hack has a chance of being successful using the concepts and methods from the lectures, complemented by your own research.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully completed this subject will be able to:

  • Explain why and how cities can be understood as complex systems;
  • Use a theoretical framework to analyse systemic normative issues (e.g.\ liveability, sustainability, resilience);
  • Analyse and conceptually model or map complex systems such as cities;
  • Convey the consequences of complexity, non linearity and uncertainty in theoretical and practical terms;
  • Articulate what transformative change entails, both conceptually and in the context of a real-world case;
  • Work with some of the tools to deal with uncertainty such as scenarios and exploratory thinking;
  • Describe and communicate interventions in complex systems to a general audience and policy makers.

Last updated: 23 July 2019