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IGCS Schools 2020

IGCS Winter School 2020

Sustainability in the Peri-scene: Human settlements, food, ecology and governance

February 15 to 29, 2020

IIT Madras, Chennai | India

IGCS Summer School 2020

IGCS Summer School
RWTH Aachen University | Germany

IGCS Winter School

Sustainability in the Peri-cene: Human settlements, food, ecology and governance

February 15 to 29, 2020 at IIT Madras, Chennai

How can we understand the pressures and potentials of transformative peri-urban futures?


It is nearly 33 years since the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (known in short as the Brundtland Commission) famously defined sustainable development as a process of change in which the “exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development; and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.” During the past 3 decades, global land use changes seem to discredit that expectation by moving in the reverse direction.

Seen from space, the Earth’s land surface is increasingly a mottled landscape made up largely of the built environment, comprising roads, buildings and industrial farming systems, with only a few islands of non-engineered natural systems. Cities, which used to be self-contained units surrounded by the vast countryside, now appear to be simply more dense settlements than those that can be seen elsewhere. It therefore seems imperative to blur the distinctions across cities, small towns and rural areas and to examine the new forms of ‘periurbanisation’ of the so-called hinterland, whose sustainability challenges are vast and growing.

This Winter School is an attempt to pick up the pieces around sustainability and land to try to formulate a more integrated view. It will cover the following themes:

  1. Sustainable development and land
  2. Urbanisation and the land-water-food-ecosystems nexus
  3. Sustainable governance beyond cities


This Winter School will be twelve days long from 15-29 February 2020 and will have two major work streams. The mornings will be reserved for lectures and talks given by German and Indian academics and practitioners. The second work stream is dedicated to project work (see below).


The resource persons for the Winter School includes faculty from German universities and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (Chennai) as well as other scholars and practitioners with deep understanding of different aspects of the themes mentioned above.

Work Groups

The participants will work in small groups of 4-5 members on dedicated projects to gain intensified learnings on the topics and practical approaches of R&D project work. The project work will be based on the “Action Learning”-Methodology and agile project execution concepts. The work groups will pitch for their topic out of given proposals. Each team will have a mentor from the lecturers to support them throughout the whole course.
The following preliminary topics are proposed:

  1. Spatial analysis of periurbanisation in Chennai
  2. Creating alternative food production resources in the Chennai water basin
  3. Landscape design alternatives in Muttukadu
  4. Adaptive governance models for greater Chennai
  5. Coastal livelihood assessment in Ennore
  6. Recovering food sovereignty options among landless communities


The course is open to German* and Indian Master and Ph.D. Students in academic fields of ecology, geography, environmental and social sciences. Knowledge in the urbanisation and sustainability is of advantage. The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 30 (15 German /15 Indian).

*Non-German students and university graduates can apply if they are enrolled in a course of study at a German university with the aim of obtaining a degree at a German university. For more information check DAAD-Website: Bewerbungen um ein Stipendium (German only).


Interested students may apply through the 2020 IGCS Winter School Application Form. The application deadline is November 24 2019, 16:00 CET. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

The link is open from October 14 07.30 o’clock CET – November 24 2019 16:00 o’clock CET and will be published on this page. You will need to register first before you enter the actual form. You can switch between German and English. Please read the instructions carefully, including the help-notes that are attached to many entry boxes.

Please prepare the following documents to be uploaded through the form:

  1. CV
  2. Transcript of records of last completed semester / graduation certificate
  3. Letter of recommendation from an academic supervisor. It should state your academic and personal qualification for the participation of the school.
  4. Passport copy (for German students only, Indian students prepare en empty page)
  5. Enrolment certificate

Positive results will be announced by early December 2020. We kindly ask to refrain from inquiries about the application status in the meantime. Your data will be deleted if you were not accepted.


IGCS, including the schools, is part of the “A New Passage to India” initiative funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

German participants of the School receive a travel grant (EUR 1075) and a lump sum (EUR 325). The Indian selected students will be reimbursed ‘to and from’ 2nd class AC railfare by the shortest route from their respective current address (Institute/College/University) to Chennai. Accommodation, local hospitality, and local travel will also be taken care by the IIT Madras. The selected students will be accommodated in the Taramani Guest House on IIT Madras campus (two people per room).

All participants are expected to hand in an experience report; instructions will be provided later.


Please contact project coordinator Malin Praktiknjo if you have any questions.


IGCS Area Coordinators for land use, rural and urban development Prof. Dr. Chella Rajan, Prof. Dr. Martina Fromhold-Eisebith and in collaboration with IGCS-Postdoc Dr. Christoph Woiwode.