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Reimagining Berlin as a Smart City – Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st century

Summer University Term 2a: July 1st - July 19th, 2019


Course price: 1,450 Euros

20 hours of class a week, 4 ECTS, max. 20 participants


The 19th century was a century of empires, the 20th century was a century of nation states. The 21st century will be a century of cities.” – Former Denver Mayor W. Webb

In this course you will get a unique insight into Berlin’s history and ambitions as a smart city. We will trace the development of Berlin’s official smart city agenda, appreciate the diverse landscape of actors who lead the change and visit some of the city’s most celebrated smart city projects and innovation hotspots first-hand.

Berlin is growing. By the year 2030, there will be 250,000 more people living in the city than there are today. This will bring with it an increase in the demand for housing as well as in requirements for mobility, the adaptation of infrastructures and the availability of resources such as water, energy, data and building land. Like many major urban centres around the world, this means that Berlin is also facing a wide variety of challenges for the future: the growing city, the aging city or the city in the midst of structural change all require inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental approaches if solutions are to be found. The Smart City approach aims to find solutions to the ecological, social, economic and cultural challenges faced by Berlin through the use of intelligent technology. Berlin wishes to preserve – and as far as possible enhance – its appeal and its quality of life.

Like many cities around the world, Berlin wants to become a leading Smart City by 2030. But what does that mean? How can new technologies help to tackle some of Berlin’s biggest challenges? Who is leading the change? And what can Berlin learn from other cities?

This course will challenge you to critically reflect and interrogate the “smart city” concept, contribute your own ideas and experiences from home and gain a broad perspective on how cities are innovating and cooperating all over the world for a more sustainable urban future.

The course is ideal for participants with an interdisciplinary interest in urban planning, innovation and knowledge management, digital media & communications technologies, civic tech/ engineering, sustainability studies, politics & governance, history. 

Learning Goals & Syllabus


  • Gain an insight into the complex and often conflicting landscape of actors in Berlin working in the cross-cutting field of smart city & the goals of the city
  • Visit some of Berlin’s future sites of innovation where the action happens!
  •  Get to know of Berlin’s smart city projects, including many which involve cutting-edge research from TU Berlin
  • Learn some hands-on data skills in the institute’s Conscious City Lab
  • Learn about Berlin’s unique history and how this resulted in today’s opportunities as well as challenges for a digital and sustainable transformation
  • Compare and contrast how Berlin’s Smart City activities differ from those in other cities around the world and at home
  • Critically reflect on the “smart city” concept beyond the narrow definition of ICT providers, but rather understand it as a broad cultural transformation that requires us to reinvent how we manage and govern our cities
  • Get a general understanding of the impact of rapid urbanization on our planet and the role it plays for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Contribute insights and experiences from your home city and appreciate the mechanism of city-to-city learning as a key driver for a sustainable “urban age”
  • Introduction to design thinking methodology as part of the Team Design Challenge


You can find the syllabus for this course HERE.

You may find the syllabus useful when discussing with your home University whether the ECTS credits attainable for this course are accepted by them.

Course components

  • Lectures
  • Group work and class presentations
  • Talks and Q&A with external guests (depends on availability)
  • Field visits to selected smart city projects and innovation sites (E-Bus, EUREF-Campus, Tempelhofer Feld, Flussbad and many more)
  • Team Design Challenge – develop your own smart city solution to one of Berlin’s existing problems!


The general prerequisites of the TU Berlin Summer University are: at least one year of university experience, plus at least B2 English (CEFR).

This course requires C1 level English in order to fully participate in discussions.


Jonas Schorr (MA/MSc)

Jonas Schorr designs and facilitates new learning experiences for cities to share and better implement innovative and smart solutions for a more sustainable urban future. During the last few years, he has become an active part of Berlin’s nascent Smart City scene through his work as a research fellow at TU Berlin and as an independent consultant. He also coordinated the Policy Transfer Platform, an internationally recognized online knowledge platform for city professionals run by the city of Berlin and the Metropolis city network.

Jonas previously worked at the London-based urban research centre LSE Cities and its Urban Age Programme on the future of megacities. He also gained a glimpse of the inner-workings of the European Union, working as a trainee for the European Commission’s environmental department in Brussels.

Jonas holds a dual master degree in Global Media & Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Fudan University in Shanghai. He previously studied international management and corporate communications at a leading German business school and ran his own web design business for a few years. He studied and worked in a variety of cultural contexts, including Germany, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Singapore and China.

+ guest lecturers.

Please direct questions about the course to the TU Berlin Summer University Team at: . We will answer your questions and direct specific queries regarding course content to the course lecturers where necessary. 


Registration for Term 2 is now closed. Check out our program for Term 4 or Winter 2020!

Brochure & Poster Download

Check out our Brochure and Poster for Summer 2018! 

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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Auxiliary Functions


Beth Sibly, Director
+49 30 4472 0230