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Urban quality development and management: Capacity development and continued education for the sustainable city

Martin Lehmann (Department of Business Studies, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Ole Fryd (Sisimiut Municipality, Sisimiut, Greenland)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 January 2008




The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss the development and the structure of a new international master on the subject of urban quality development and management (UQDM), and explore the potential of the process and the outcome in serving as models adoptable by faculty at other universities.


The study has been carried out as action research. Using innovation and user‐producer interaction as the framework, the authors present the development process; the structure, contents and methodology of the programme; and report on their research findings.


UQDM is dependent on human resource development, institutionalised networks and confident exchange of knowledge, and must identify and incorporate multiple environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects. The authors find that at the core of innovative societies, an interlinkage exists between practice (business, civil society, governance) and theory (research, education). The case illustrates how a new curriculum takes time to develop and implement and how it relies on confidence and trust between partners, in this case cities and universities, before being able to plant the seed for a sustainable response to the needs of city administrations. University consortia may be particularly useful as providers of a broad framework and an enabling setting in which diffusion of innovation can occur.

Practical implications

The paper presents a successful approach to developing new curricula. Basing itself on user‐producer interaction within the framework of innovation and innovation theory, the programme addresses urban quality through a multi‐disciplinary and inter‐institutional collaboration between city administrations and universities. Per se, the approach is easily replicable but will require time, effort and dedication by all involved, both during development and in later execution.


The paper reports on a new, unique programme and further places the development of the curriculum and the curriculum itself explicitly in the context of user‐producer interaction and with innovation as the framework. While this framework is widely used both descriptively and prescriptively in product development, it has seemingly yet to be applied extensively for other types of developments, including university educations.



Lehmann, M. and Fryd, O. (2008), "Urban quality development and management: Capacity development and continued education for the sustainable city", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 21-38.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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