NEXT Summer School on Urban Nature-Based Solutions | UniverWork

NEXT Summer School on Urban Nature-Based Solutions

Deadline:  20 June 2018
Open to: citizens of any countries in the world
Venue: 15– 26 August 2018 in Mahilioŭ (Belarus)


The NEXT summer school will be a vibrant mixture of interactive sessions, field trips, and group work in a unique Eastern European setting, designed to give participants hands-on project and research experience with nature-based solutions for smart cities. After getting familiar with the state-of-the-art field and analytical tools, learning about local and global challenges, visiting five local case study sites in Mahilioŭ (each characterised by several interrelated environmental, land-use and social conflicts), participants will form groups, identify their focus topic, and do several days of supervised group work, followed by the presentation of their ideas and findings to the school faculty and stakeholders. The goal of the group work is to identify a particular urban development challenge, get a multi-angle understanding of the problem, then either 1) propose a vision and a solution to address it with a feasible project plan, OR 2) develop research proposals containing the research question, its justification and research methodology. Student reports would be collected and made available to all participants, stakeholders, and partner universities for curriculum development and learning purposes. Participants and faculty are encouraged to re-develop the final reports into academic papers. Students will be awarded a NEXT Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.
Pre-School (June 30-August 19, 2018): pre-course reading and case study materials (made available through a dedicated e-learning site from June 30, 2018), development and collection of course participants profiles with short visions for the course (to be compiled to the course participant directory) and an introductory webinar for pre-course preparatory assignment
In-School (August 15-20, 2018):
(1) scoping phase (August 15-19)
August 14: Arrival, registration, meet & greet
August 15: Introduction to the theory, methodology and application of nature-based solutions for smart cities, governance of smart cities and nature-based solutions; introduction to the case study challenges and issues of urban & peri-urban landscape quality that need to be addressed, methodology workshop on project planning and transition management
August 16: Methodology workshop on observation techniques, repertory grid, mental mapping, and stakeholder interview techniques; ‘Mobile Lab’ visits to Case site #1, #2, and #3
August 17: Lecture on international best practices of applying urban nature-based solutions and development of smart cities; green corridors, green-blue diameters, development of green infrastructure; challenges for physical planning, urban infrastructure management and landscape architecture
August 18: Making small research groups of 4 participants (two groups for each of five cases), methodology workshop on visioning and back-casting; preparing brief project proposals in cooperation with other groups, stakeholders and the faculty, then presenting the ideas and receiving feedback
August 19: Recreational and cultural activities, optional hiking or sightseeing, intercultural evening
(2) research phase (August 20-25)
August 20: Recap of Week 1, cradle to cradle urban design workshop, project planning workshop; stakeholder interviews for each case
August 21-24: Supporting workshops (e.g. impact mapping, cost-benefit analysis, proposal writing), group work (field trips on an as-needed basis and desktop research) on cases with the aim to propose viable solutions or research plans (each group supervised by a faculty member well familiar with the local context and containing Belarusian/Russian speaking students to facilitate the sociological part and studying the local sources)
August 25: Group project finalization; submission of draft project reports
(3) reporting and graduation:
August 26: the groups present their ideas to stakeholder and the School faculty, undergo Q&A, jury feedback and proclamation of awards; graduation ceremony, farewell evening
August 27: departures
Post-School (September 1-September 30, 2018):
the group leaders send the final version of group reports to be included to the edited on-line volume and case study database of the Belarusian-Russian University and Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The final report should include an Executive summary (300 words); Introduction: system analysis, problem definition and framing (1500-2000 words); Proposed vision and solution (1500-2000 words); Implementation strategy, feasibility aanalysis, business plan and recommendations (1500-2000 words); References.


We look for motivated individuals with academic or professional background related to physical planning, architecture, environmental management, policy and/or technology, ecology, geography, policy science, economics, or any other relevant backgrounds that have to do with the quality of urban landscape, ecosystem & biodiversity protection in cities, and planning process or urban design in general. We expect that our applicants have at least the first degree, although in some welljustified cases (e.g. sufficient professional experience in a relevant field), this requirement can be exempted.
The application to open to the citizens of any countries in the world. We do not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, social strata, cultural or sexual preferences. We did not make any special arrangements for handicapped people, however please contact us as soon as possible if you have special assistance, and we will do our best to facilitate it.


Mahilioŭ has direct regular train and bus connections to most of major cities in Belarus, but also in Moldova, Ukraine and European part of Russia. The closets international airport is the National Airport Minsk is in less than 200 km away. We will arrange 1-2 transfers on arrival and departure days, however, Mahilioŭ also has many bus and train connection with Minsk and, eventually, the airport. Other (relatively) close international airports are Kiev, Moscow and Vilnius. During the departure day we will maintain a meet & greet reception on the premises of BelarusianRussian University in the downtown area (close to the Coach Station and not far away from the Railway Station), and also will be available by phone; more details will follow.
The cost of living in Mahilioŭ is not high. There exist a broad range of accommodation options from EUR 10 to ∞/night, while for the participants accepting the living standards of a shared room in a student dorm (just across the street from the School venue), we will provide accommodation for free (or almost for free – negotiations are underway). More details about accommodation options will follow. Meals are in a range from EUR 3-4 for lunch; participants from Visegrad countries, as well as Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, receive arranged free lunches; participants from other countries will be encouraged to join the arrangement (EUR 3/lunch). The tuition fee is EUR 650; the fees of outstanding participants as well citizens of non-OECD countries or affiliates of partner institutions will be waived. 
If you are a citizen of a Visegrad country (Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Poland), Belarus, Moldova or Ukraine, you are eligible for a full or partial travel grant. In case if you are eligible, please chose an appropriate option in the “travel grant eligibility” field in the application form. After the application deadline, the selection will be completed within a week, and selection results will be sent to applicants. The travel grant will include a tuition fee waiver, free accommodation and catering (arranged on spot) and, for a very limited number of applicants, also full or partial travel reimbursement.
If you are a German citizen, you are eligible to the grants provided by DAAD. In case if you are eligible, please chose an appropriate option in the “travel grant eligibility” field in the application form. After the application deadline, we will recommend the best applicants to DAAD Foundation, where the final decision on grant award will be taken. The travel grant includes full tuition fee (payable upon your arrival; cash or bank card), airfare compensation (up to EUR 350) and daily allowance of EUR 10/day. Participants from the Erasmus+ CBHE project INTENSE partner organisations If you belong to one of the organisations participating in the Erasmus+ CBHE project INTENSE (, you are exempt from the tuition fee, and subject to the internal selection procedure, also may be eligible to a full or partial compensation of your stay and travel costs. Please, contact for further details. In case if you are eligible, please also chose an appropriate option in the “travel grant eligibility” field in the application form.


The application deadline for those who applies for any form of financial assistance and/or needs visa in order to enter Belarus is May 31, 2018. The deadline for all other categories of participants is June 20, 2018. 
In order to apply, register HERE.  In addition, upon the completion of the e-form, the applicant has to send compulsory annexes to the e-mail
The compulsory annexes include:
  • Cover letter, briefly explaining the purpose for the application, and outlining relevant qualifications
  • Copy of the ID page(s) of the travel document (passport)
  • Copy of diplomas confirming the latest academic degree obtained (e.g. specialist, B.Sc./B.A./B.Eng., M.Sc./M.A./M.Eng., Ph.D.)
  • Document certifying language proficiencies (where relevant; citizens of EU countries and/or applicants with academic or professional experience in English-speaking environment are exempt for such proofs; the reason for exemption should be mentioned in the Cover letter)
  • Full CV (in any format) with the list of published works (where relevant) 
All the annexes shall be joined in a single pdf file, and named according to the following template: Last name_Nationality.pdf, e.g. Navumau_Belarus.pdf or Schulz_Germany.pdf. Please, immediately let us know (, if you encounter any technical difficulties or have additional questions.