Mark Scherner is studying Regional Research and Regional Planning at the University of Vienna and participated in in the univie: ARL International Summer School 2021. His conclusion: The four-day intensive dialogue on “Urban and Regional Infrastructures” will shape his ideas for future research.
In September 2021 I participated in the univie: ARL International Summer School 2021 “Urban and Regional Infrastructures”. This summer school was organised by the ARL – Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association in cooperation with the Department of Geography and Regional Research and the research platform “The Challenges of Urban Futures” at the University of Vienna. Still a master’s student in the final stage of my thesis, I was just glad that my application was accepted and that I could participate in this event for young scientists.
A diversity of research perspectives
At such an early point in my research career, participating in an international summer school was an exceptional experience. The summer school brought together internationally renowned experts and doctoral students for a four-day intensive dialogue to promote future dissertation projects of 14 PhD candidates. Reading their papers and listening to the presentations, I was stunned by the diversity of research perspectives these international participants opened up to me – from high-speed rail development to informal public transport; from far-right political perceptions of the city to the emphasis of infrastructures of the everyday life as a new common sense in contrast to capitalist infrastructural planning; from the ethics of land policy to the philosophies of digital infrastructure. Their insights of how to interpret infrastructure will shape my ideas for future research.
Asking the “more difficult” questions
To highlight one thematic focus: In Vienna, urban infrastructure is often centred around housing development. Discussing the case of Vienna in field trips with international colleagues brought fresh discussion points to the table. Housing is not everything, in other cities different infrastructures can be the main driver of urban development. In an international city comparison, Vienna is not always perfect either. In this respect, I think international guests simply ask us locals the more difficult questions. Through this we can sharpen our lens of doing research “at home”.
On a more personal note, this summer school – after nearly two years of the pandemic – showed me what social science can be all about: listening to new perspectives and discussing other points of view. Academia is not just about writing one’s thesis or papers, but to be thought-provoking. Thoughts that one may not have heard in Viennese discourse before.
👉 The univie: summer schools fare various initiatives of the University of Vienna and its partner institutions. A complete overview, more detailed information about the individual programmes and registration can be found on the website of the International Office. New programmes are added all the time – so it is worth checking regularly. Our blogpost How to: summer school! gives interesting insights as well 🤓
👉 Find out more abourt univie: ARL International Summer School!