he CITYLAB project aims to enhance the quality of higher education institutions in Latin America through Problem Based Learning (PBL) which is a proven innovative approach for introducing real-world problems in the education program and entails huge possibilities to transform the quality of learning and teaching. It is a kind of active, integrated and constructive learning method that works from a student centered approach and emphasizes on learning to learn and learning by doing, and breaks with traditional teaching methods such as ex-cathedra lectures. In order to introduce and spread PBL, it is required to work on specific problems through multidisciplinary approaches.
We choose to work on typical urban problems, such as urban planning, conservation, energy and climate change, poverty and crime, employment, etc. which are in general complex, and wicked problems that can only be properly addressed through multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary working methods. Moreover, the selection of urban problems, and the transdisciplinary approach which works directly with urban actors, provides the opportunity to structurally strengthen the relation between universities and cities and to make education more socially relevant.
The project departs from existing niches of problem based learning methods in curricula of Architecture, urban planning and urban engineering in 12 Latin American universities, and gradually involves other faculty members such as sociology, economics, environmental engineering, law, criminology, administration and political sciences through the development of CITYLABS.
The CITYLABS are accredited modules that will be integrated into existing curricula and which work directly in partnership with selected cities on urban problems.
Teachers from different faculties will be involved and trained to implement PBL methods in their CITYLAB module. The Global Network of United Cities and Local and Regional Governments will act as a linking partner between universities and cities (guiding invitations, identifying partners if necessary etc.).
At same time this project provides an added value for European HEIs to collaborate on:
- PBL methods: the different universities involved have their own experience in PBL. Through this project they will be able to share best practice and innovations in PBL methods. An important side product of the proposal is a convergence in learning methods in Europe as European HEI also might adapt their own teaching methods and PBL modules.
- Pool of experts: European partners will form a pool of experts with LA colleagues in which they will be able to collaborate in the student modules. This collaboration will foster the exchange of best practice in urban issues, but will also increase cultural awareness of the participating staff members.
- Relations with Latin American countries: the European partners will have the opportunity to collaborate with 12 LA universities, which will provide further opportunities for staff and student Engaging Students with Sustainable Cities in Latin-America mobility.