SMUS Seminars 2020-2022

Starting from Winter Semester 2020/2021 on, a group of in total 5 SMUS organised seminars will take place at the TU Berlin Department of Sociology to which both, international guests as well as local students, are invited to participate. Please find the course outlines attached.

Winter Semester 2020/2021


Urban Sustainability in a Global Context

The course aims at giving students an overview over the various aspects of urban sustainability as defined in the Sustainable Development Goal #11. SDG #11 aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. SDG #11 thus adresses all dimensions of sustainability namely:
social sustainability by reducing poverty, spatial segregation and social inequality on various dimensions (e.g. class, gender, race/ethnicity, age and disability)
economic sustainability by overcoming economic exclusion, creating career and business opportunities for all income groups and building resilient societies and economies
ecological sustainability by reducing negative environmental impacts of cities, by reducing the negative impact of disasters and climate change on cities and by protecting and safeguarding the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

Download the Course Outline here.

Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability

The course aims at helping doctoral students and students who specialize in the fields of urban research, spatial research or sustainability research to operationalize their research questions, i.e. to plan the research process and to choose the appropriate sampling, data collection, data analysis and evaluation methods for their particular research question. The course is part of the mandatory program of Action 3-1 in the “Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability” (GCSMUS), but it is also open to bachelor and master students at TU Berlin.

Download the Course Outline here.

Research Ethics and Research Skills

Research ethics and research skills are essential parts of any basic academic training and therefore usually covered very early stages of academic training. However, when academic careers progress, students and scholars often face more complex issues.

Download the Course Outline here.

Summer Semester 2021


Global Inequality and Local Conceptions of the Future

In the social sciences, with few exceptions, empirical research either focusses on patterns of social inequality within a country or on patterns of social inequality between countries, with the exception of historical sociology, global sociology and international migration research which have increasingly started to focus on intersectionality and the entanglements of social inequality and migration between countries. Regardless, most of this research still focusses on a few countries of the Global North (e.g. the US, Western Europe and China) and the perspective of these entanglements from the receiving country, i.e. typical research questions would be how a country of immigration like the US or Germany would perceive which types of immigrants and how they would be integrated into the receiving society. Recently, research has called for delinking and decentering the debates on social and global inequality. This course follows this call by turning the logic around and focusing on the perspective on people living in the emigration countries and specifically asks:

How does both a person’s positioning within their own society and the positioning of the society within the world system influence a person’s perception of social inequality, social justice, their aspirations and conceptions of the future? How do these the local conceptions of the future reproduce/express historically grown global inequalities?

Download the Course Outline here.

Summer Semester 2022


Covid-19 in Poor Neighbourhoods – the Global South and Global North Compared

The course is embedded into a larger project that will be conducted mainly in Germany, Botswana and Indonesia in 2022/2023 but will involve other project partners from the Global North and the Global South, most of whom will visit Germany in 2022. The overall project addresses the following issues:

What are the economic, social and technological/digital consequences of the Corona Crisis on poor neighbourhoods in the Global South as compared to the Global North and how can they be overcome? Using the example of food supply and food retailing, the project will reveal the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic both on (1) inhabitants and (2) businesses in poor neighbourhoods and show, if and how (3) rural and urban communities are entangled, (4) digital infrastructures can be and are used in social and economic life as countermeasures for the crisis and (5) how the Global North can learn from the Global South and vice versa. In doing so, project will not only contribute to decolonizing social science research but also provide road maps for public policy options and formulations relating to disaster and social assistance management.

Download the Course Outline here.


Ethnography has a long tradition in urban and spatial sociology as well as in the sociology of technology and organisation. The research approach triangulates data from participant observation with other data in the context of field research. While conventional ethnographies aim to capture a social group or culture holistically by means of long-term field visits, focused ethnography attempts to capture structures and patterns of interaction, communication and situations by means of short field visits. Further developments are videography, which – similar to the hermeneutic sociology of knowledge (also: social science hermeneutics) – allows for detailed interpretations, and technography, which is particularly suitable for research in the sociology of technology. Part of the seminar are ethnographic research trips throughout Berlin and Germany.

Download the course outline here.