Training School (2.2)

Porto | September 2019

Six months into the project, it was time to see each other again. In September, the Early Stage Researchers and all project members had the opportunity to meet in Porto, Portugal for the Mid-Term meeting of the project and the second training school of the programme.

The training school for the ESRs began with two presentations from Germany. One was focused on the successful examples of multi-stakeholder sustainability projects in rural areas in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Anja Folz from the Energy Agency Rhineland-Palatinate presented some success stories from their approach on working with local communities. Another German example was presented by Peter Zeller from the sustainable fish farm HELLO FRESH, located in Völklingen, state of Saarland. The innovative fish farm with entirely closed water circulation and close to zero environmental footprint has been established as a renovation project in the former industrial area of Völklingen. As a transition back to Porto, Silvia Sousa, University of Porto, presented the transformation of Porto from a shrinking city to a popular tourism destination. This transformation, as outlined by the presenter, has led to some challenges for locals. Another example from the Iberian Peninsula was presented by Simón Sanchez Moral from Complutense University of Madrid. He presented his analysis on knowledge workers mobility within different Spanish regions with a specific focus on attraction and retention factors.

The different examples, related to shrinking cities, were complimented by a training session, focused on research methods, led by Cambridge Architectural Research Limited. Dr. Steve Platt shared his experience and recommendations with the ESRs on different qualitative and quantitative methods. The second part of the training with CAR was dedicated to a simulation role-play game where the PhD candidates had to step into the roles of different stakeholders in the city management area – mayor, city administration, NGOs, business, architects and planners. Through the game, the ESRs managed to reflect on the internal and external dynamics, related to urban governance.

The field trip programme of the training school had two main highlights. The first one was the alternative tour of Porto, led by The Worst Tours. The 4-hour city walk took the ESRs on an intriguing journey through the less popular areas of the city, residential complexes, unfinished infrastructural projects and derelict buildings. The field trip to the nearby Matosinhos town provided insights into the integrated transport system of Porto and the coastal developments of the area. In parallel to the fieldtrips, the ESRs had the opportunity to attend the 12th CITTA International Conference on Planning Research  in order to present their posters and exchange their research ideas with others in the field.

The intensive programme in Porto was an insightful, exciting and enriching experience for the whole team. The diversity of activities and the intensity of the programme contributed to increased team spirit and increased the motivation of the ESRs, working their way to achieving their first milestones.

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Impressions of the Event

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813803

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