CHID Berlin — Global Urbanism: Stories, Strategies, and Struggles

Berlin, Germany

Next Offered
Autumn 2014
Approximate Dates of Instruction
Application Deadline


Since 1989, the Berlin Wall has turned from a marker of the cold war division into one of a vibrant space of bars, clubs, and urban beaches, of museums, galleries, and fashion hot spots attracting citizens and tourists worldwide. This transformation affects all of Berlin. Formerly divided between East and West, the city has become the real and symbolic capital of Germany, a nexus of European integration and economic globalization. This profound reversal is articulated and celebrated in multiple success stories in which the city government has marketed Berlin as a stage for self-realization, entrepreneurial experimentation, and social assimilation. However, there is a dark side. Urban activists argue that these successes are deceptive and conceal strategies of repression that support the globalizing division between Northern countries enriched at the expense of their Southern counterparts. This is an ironic twist for a city overcoming its historic East/West divisions; it reveals Berlin’s current narrative of success as a much more controversial story of conflicts between civic community and corporate capital that underscore the “politicized struggles over whose city it is supposed to be” (M. Mayer). These conflicts, in turn, have served to mobilize anti-gentrification and anti-globalization movements. In short, the newly unified and much celebrated city is once again a site of intense struggle.

It is in this critical context of ongoing struggle that the CHID Berlin Program 2014 will engage Berlin as a site of stories, strategies, and processes of global urbanization.

Is Berlin only following the trajectory of economic globalization? Are there political or cultural forces countering these processes? How can Berlin’s urban futures be envisioned? Who are the actors involved in its making? We will discuss these questions with city officials, professionals, artists and urban activists. To explore their spatial implications, we will visit the symbolic sites of governmental buildings, museums and art galleries, the contested sites of socially-deprived and gentrifying neighborhoods, the experimental sites of Berlin’s creative industries, informal housing, and urban gardening, as well as the sites of globalizing economies and markets, Frankfurt and Hamburg.

The program is organized as a course-trilogy of “stories,” “strategies,” and “struggles,” consisting — dependent upon your departmental requirements — of either two weekly seminars, or a seminar and a design studio, as well as independent study and guest lectures. The partnership with Humboldt University and cooperations with peers from Berlin’s other universities will allow the development of “comparative urban pedagogies” (Jane M. Jacobs), a spectrum of different approaches to and methods of global urbanism.


Note that this program has two tracks: one for architecture students only (courses with an ARCH prefix), and one for non-architecture students (courses with a CHID prefix). Both tracks add up to 15 credits total.

  • ARCH 495 + 491 / CHID 471A: STORIES: Global Urbanisms & Translocal Comparisons (ARCH 6 credits / CHID 5 credits)
  • ARCH 400, 504, BE 498 or 598 / CHID 471B: STRATEGIES: Scenes and Scenarios of Global Urbanization (ARCH 6 credits / CHID 5 credits)
  • ARCH 496 / CHID 470: STRUGGLES: Practices of Spatial Appropriation (ARCH 3 credits / CHID 5 credits)
Fulfills Requirements
CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement
CHID Power & Difference
SSc Credit
A&H Credit
Total Program Fees

*Note that the fees stated above do not include some additional costs, including, but not limited to: airfare, Study Abroad Insurance (about $42/month), and personal spending money. Remember that these costs will differ by program. Be sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal information for details about the fee structure and payment schedule.