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Interdisciplinary PhD Training Week 2015


                                   Is small sustainable?

     Decentralizing Infrastructures and Utility Systems in East Africa

             Interdisciplinary PhD Training Week, 9-14 March, 2015

In East African countries, large technical, centralized infrastructure systems are part of the colonial heritage. Despite the differences between the Global South and the North, planners still try to implement European models and ideals: large-scale energy utilities, centralized water, sanitation, and transport systems. However, during the last decades these models have come under attack. Considering the different ecological, spatial, social, economic and political conditions of the Global South, actors have begun to ask if the northern models are truly appropriate. At the same time, the sustainability of the high-modernist paradigm is also being questioned in the Global North.

Scholars from different disciplines, as well as planners, engineers and product designers have accompanied and supported these changes towards small-scale, decentralized, and user-driven solutions. In this process, they have also developed an interest in the specific characteristics of existing infrastructures systems in East Africa and sustainable solutions which challenge the paradigm of centralized infrastructure systems. The interdisciplinary PhD training week addresses this situation by critically analyzing alternative infrastructure systems in East Africa and by reflecting the design of sustainable solutions.

The aims of the PhD Training Week are to

  • promote an exchange between European and African young and senior researchers working on infrastructure systems in East Africa with a focus on energy and water supply as well as waste water management and transportation
  • encourage interdisciplinary and international research collaboration, as well as to include the experiences and needs of practical actors and users in the field

The objectives are to provide the participants with:

  • an overview of the multidimensionality and complexity involved in the  planning, analysis, and design of infrastructure systems,
  • insights into existing theoretical and methodological approaches, thus enabling them to critically reflect over and possibly modify their own approaches,
  • an interactive environment in which individual research topics are presented to and discussed with other participants and the lecturers,
  • the possibility of individual consulting with single senior researchers regarding conceptual and methodological questions


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