Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Urban Growth and City Resilience

Urban Growth and City Resilience
First semester
Main language of instruction: English

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are available by appointment through email.



Dr Lorenzo Chelleri

Dan Lewis

Emili Hormias

This course explores dimensions of new thinking addressing urban-based disaster and risk reduction and response and the concept of resilience. The sessions will provide inter-active dialogue, presentations and an action-planning scenario-based response undertaken by groups drawn from the student body. Students will learn about multilateral frameworks for vulnerability and resilience assessments and explore the connection between theory and practice. They will learn about how more participative process are necessary for urban transformation in order to make our cities more resilient, adaptable to influxes of migration and prepared to respond to crisis.

This course also delves into the topic of resettlement from slums to social housing, exploring several typologies of social housing in order to analyze how they are used in response to rapid urban growth and institutional territorial planning. Students will examine urban social housing as Barcelona’s response to mass-immigration in the mid-20th century, and how those buildings have served changing populations over time. This is comprised of visits to social housing zones in Barcelona and an examination of how the building typologies have shaped the everyday experience and social interactions of the residents.


Familiarization of students with the theory and practice related to urban-based recovery from human-made or natural crises;

To gain a critical perspective on the concept of resilience and its application in urban development projects, laws, and political frameworks.

Introduction to response programming through simulation exercise based on real (recent) crisis. (eg. TBC)


  • 01 - That students apply the knowledge acquired and the capacity to solve problems in underpriviledged places in multidisciplinary contexts related to the area of international cooperation.
  • 07 - Be capable of aplying to a specific project the knowledge acquired.
  • 09 - Acquire the knowledge of urban develpment strategies in acordance to local and regional cultures
  • 14 - To know and apply the practical and theoretical principles for the conservation of sustainable resources in urban development.
  • 17 - Be capable of offering integrated transport system solutions that are adecuate to sustainble urban development.
  • 20 - Acknowledge local resources related to energy systems and apply them to constructions.
  • 25 - To know how to apply the knowledge acquired of the 'macro logic' tool for the planning and management of international cooperation projects

Learning outcomes

1. Greater understanding of good and bad practice within humanitarian response;

2. Familiarisation with a methodology for developing linkages to sustainable outcomes from a post-disaster urban response;

3. Introduction to mandates, coordination systems, limits and opportunities within the emergency response and community recovery.

4. Knowing how to implement social housing projects and the strengths and weaknesses of common typologies and their social process of how they were constructed.


Session 1: Introduction to international humanitarian response system; UN-HABITAT mandate, role and responsibilities; post-crisis shelter and housing assessments;

Session 2: Post-crisis shelter and housing issues – responses; land related issues; critical infrastructure concerns.

Session 3: Urban systems based approaches to post-crisis recovery, links to development planning

Session 4: Applied project formulation exercise – group work preparing response programme for urban disaster.

Teaching and learning activities

In person

Lectures, text analysis, class discussions and writing sessions.

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

Observation of each student:

  • participation in class
  • analytical skills and the ability to develop eventual proposals that are capable of providing specific solutions to the problems raised
  • the ability to work in a team and leadership skills
  • the ability to integrate what has been learned in class in the student’s own project/exercise
  • the ability to present in public the work and/or research developed during the course

Bibliography and resources

Basic bibliography listed below, class material will be provided prior.


Sarah Meerow,S; Newell, J.P.; Stults, M. ‘Defining Urban Resilience: A review’. Landscape and Urban Planning 147 (2016) 38–49

Chelleri, L.;Waters,J.; Olazabal, M. ‘Resilience trade-offs: addressing multiple scales and temporal aspects of urban resilience’. Environment & Urbanization, 2015 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Vol 0(0): 1–18.

Coaffee,J. ‘Urban resilience implementation: A policy challenge and research agenda for the 21st century’. Journal of Contingencies and crisis management’. 2018 :26, 403-410.

Publications: LENSS; Shelter Projects 2011/12; Land and Natural Disasters; Human Settlements and Crisis (UN-HABITAT Policy framework); Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (excerpts)

Presentations: Cluster Approach – the IASC System; Sustainable Relief and Reconstruction; Land and Crises; Introduction to urban systems approach; CRPP