JEMES - Joint European Master Programme in Environmental Studies

Urban planning education has not kept pace with current challenges and emerging issues within sustainable development. Many planning education programs are still rooted in sector-specific planning and lack a more systemic approach that unifies both natural and social sciences under a comprehensive educational framework.

The urban transition witnessed worldwide over the last few decades has been unparalleled and is causing engineering, planning and urban management challenges that have never been faced before. A century ago, less than 5 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities. In 1950, this number was about 30 per cent, or 740 million people. At present, more than 50% of the world population, i.e. above 3.5 billion, lives in cities and projections tell us that by 2050, this number will rise to 70 per cent, or 6.4 billion.

Cities are places where people agglomerate to seek opportunities for better lives. Cities are engines of development and cradles of economic growth. At the same time, cities by definition are consumers and if poorly managed, can be responsible for ruthless use of resources and impact on the environment.

The concern for peoples’ health and overall wellbeing is alone sufficient reason to remedy existing deficiencies and plan for future improvements. Life quality and expectancy for the urban poor is an integrated part of the problem and explicitly addressed in the 8 Millennium Development Goals.

New curricula must embrace innovative planning and management ideas built around an explicit embrace of trans-disciplinary science and link to novel technical and engineering solutions. To realise this, a new consortium links up northern and southern European universities with local
European organisations and city administrations, and universities in Australia, China and the US, thereby bringing together strong expertise that encompasses the needs and opportunities in several continents and in developing as well as in industrialised countries.

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