Institute for Urban Futures

The complexity of urban processes, social dynamics and digital information spaces requires inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to research, teaching and practice. To develop innovative and viable solutions for a sustainable transformation of our cities and regions, the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam has founded the Institute for Urban Futures.

Our aims are:

  • Understand cities as complex systems
  • Provide orientational knowledge for the future
  • Refine inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives on cities
  • Develop competences in dealing with the boundaries of knowledge

We are currently focusing on the following  research topics:

  • Resource-optimized and climatically adapted construction
  • Regional and social transformation
  • Information and visualization
  • Mobility and traffic management
  • research-based learning and teaching

Understand cities as complex systems

Our goal is to develop methods to better understand the complexity of urban processes, social dynamics and digital information spaces and to formulate proposals for sustainable urban developments in the fields of construction and housing, mobility and traffic, education, demography and culture as well as social structure.  We explore problems of urban transformation processes and their sector-specific intersections, study the drivers of novel emerging practices and envisage viable forms of networking and self-organization.

Provide orientational knowledge for the future

Commonly shared principles – urban future visions – are a fundamental base for societal decision-making processes which we develop in cooperation with a diverse range of actors. Simulation- and data-based future scenarios are designed, discussed and made available for decision-making support.  One key competence is information visualization as a powerful research method helping students and scientists to study complex phenomena and as a novel medium to communicate scientific insights to decision makers and citizens.


The complexity of urban problems requires the collaboration of diverse disciplines. Experts are needed who can impart different types of knowledge and who are able to organize and moderate complex processes of transformation. For this purpose, the subjects cover a range of topics and are complemented by methodical competences. 

Currently the Institute for Urban Futures offers lectures and workshops, project work in teams as well as research-based learning within the five departments of the university. The conjunction of research and teaching is ensured through the awarded formats of “InterFlex” and “FL2”, in which students participate actively in interdisciplinary research. 

Additionally, a new master degree program will be introduced by 2016/17, which takes an interdisciplinary perspective on the future of cities and is closely linked to the research activities of the institute. 

Regional catalyst for urban transformation

To ensure a high practical relevance of the topics focused on in teaching and research, the Institute for Urban Futures builds up and closely maintains partnerships with institutions of professional practice such as municipalities, planning offices and enterprises. Furthermore, the university is collaborating with other universities and research institutions to pursue transdisciplinary research projects.

Within the university, the institute serves as point of contact for consulting in research and development. It provides support in acquiring external funding as well as in initiating cooperation for the realization of research projects. 

The Institute for Urban Futures can be seen as a regional catalyst for research on urban transformation and enhances a new culture of knowledge generation at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.