Ongoing projects

UniGR-CBS – European Center of Competence and Knowledge in Border Studies (UniGR-Center for Border Studies) (C. Wille, K. Franzen, B. Nienaber, M. Helfer, I. Pigeron-Piroth, E. Evrard, U. Connor, S. Parnian, R. Reuter, S. Ehrhart, N. Roelens)

PI: Christian Wille
Coordination: Kathrin Franzen
Funding: Interreg V A Greater Region
Duration: 2018-2020

The UniGR-Center for Border Studies (UniGR-CBS) is a thematic cross-border network of approximately 80 researchers within the university grouping University of the Greater Region (UniGR) conducting research on borders, their meanings and challenges. Within this project, the UniGR-CBS aims at developing harmonized research tools, embedding Border Studies in teaching, promoting the dialogue on cross-border challenges between academia and institutional actors and supporting the spatial development strategy of the Greater Region. The cross-border cooperation project runs for three years and is coordinated by the Central Office of the UniGR as lead partner. The scientific responsibility lies with the University of Luxembourg.  
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Territorial borders as state practice (Connor, Wille)

Supervisor: Christian Wille
Coordination: Ulla Connor
Duration: 2017-2021
Recently, questions of territorial borders have been increasingly brought into the focus of social sciences. Despite the existence of practice-oriented studies of borders, sociological theories of practice have not been entirely taken into account regarding their potential for a process-oriented perspective on borders. The PhD project provides an interface between border studies and sociology and aims to show how border studies can be profitably associated with sociological theories of practice. To this end, a practical theoretical research perspective for the study of borders will be developed and illustrated using the exemplary field of investigation of political cross-border cooperation practices in Europe. The PhD project contributes to a sociology of the border by making the knowledge of border studies fruitful for a sociological perspective. Conversely, it provides border studies with a research perspective and framework adapted to the research on border practices.

REFUGOV - The governance of reception facilities for refugees in Luxembourg: local and global perspectives (Oesch, Lemaire, Nienaber)

PI: Lucas Oesch
Coordination: Léa Lemaire
Steering committee: Birte Nienaber, Jonathan Darling (Durham University)
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
Duration: 2018-2021
The project deals with the governance of reception facilities for refugees (refugee camps, reception centres), with a particular focus on the role of local and municipal actors, by looking at institutional settings, governance processes, and their effects on the in/exclusion of refugees, and on refugees’ subjectivities. Going beyond categories of the global South and North, the case studies are Luxembourg and Jordan.
Over the last few years, Luxembourg has responded to an increasing number of refugees arriving by setting up temporary reception facilities. More generally, across the world, refugees are accommodated in similar infrastructures, known as either reception centres or refugee camps. These facilities, and the length of time their residents stay there, often turn into a situation of ‘permanent temporariness’, which raises questions about the integration of refugees. Are they included in, or excluded from, the state territory and its society? This project focuses on the governance of these facilities and its effects on residents’ subjectivities. It starts from two observations:
1) Even though, in many countries, facilities are located on the territories of local authorities, the latter are often not officially in charge of them. Facilities are set up by the central state and operated under its supervision. Yet local authorities are often indirectly involved, for example through the provision of municipal services;
2) In the fields of forced migration and camp studies, there is a lack of research perspective on the governance of reception facilities across the global South and North, and especially with a focus on the role of local authorities. To meet these research needs, this project builds on insights from refugee camps in Jordan, a country which has experienced the presence of ‘permanent-temporary’ reception facilities for 70 years, to put them into perspective with processes of refugee reception in Luxembourg.
The project aims at:
1) Developing a more global approach to analysing the governance of refugee reception facilities, going beyond the global South-North divide;
2) Developing a better understanding of the role of local governance in relation to refugee reception across the global South-North divide;
3) Understanding better the specificities in Luxembourg of the governance of refugee reception facilities from the perspective of global processes of refugee reception.

CEASEVAL - Evaluation of the Common European Asylum System under Pressure and Recommendations for further Development (Nienaber, Paraschivescu, Vianelli, Oesch)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Claudia Paraschivescu, Lorenzo Vianelli, Lucas Oesch
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2017-2019
Considering the obvious malfunctions of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) which have exacerbated in the context of the so-called ‘migration crisis’ in Europe since 2015, the scope of CEASEVAL is to reassess the CEAS in order to develop recommendations informing possible reforms. CEASEVAL will propose a multidisciplinary approach, as comprehensive reforms should address laws and policies, while taking into account political, social and geographical contexts. Following a multi-level governance framework – according to which what is happening at the local and national levels is to be considered as important as the on-going reform process of the CEAS at the EU level in order to understand the strengths and limits of the system – this project will determine which kind of harmonisation (legislative, implementation) is possible and necessary.
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GLOBAL - Relational Cities and Enclave Urbanism in the ‘Singapores of the West’ (Hesse, Wong)

PI: Markus Hesse

Project Manager: Catherine Wong

Funding: Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR)
Duration: 1.5.2017 - 30.4.2020
Relational Cities and Enclave Urbanism in the ‘Singapores of the West’. How niche sovereignty strategies and political economy helped minor metropolises to globalise. The cases of Geneva, Luxembourg and Singapore.
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CIRCULAR - Challenges for the implementation of Circular Economy policies: practices, institutions and hybrid intersections (Schulz, Hjaltadóttir)

PI: Christian Schulz, University of Luxembourg
Researcher: Rannveig Edda Hjaltadóttir, University of Luxembourg

PhD candidate: Paula Hild, University of Luxembourg
Funding: Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR)
Duration: April 15, 2017 – Mars 31, 2020
The main objective of the project is to assess the challenges and opportunities of implementing Circular Economy (CE) policies at the regional level. We want to identify the current dynamics, challenges and barriers in the implementation of circular economy policies by studying the role of firms, business associations, public authorities, and civil society organisations in this endeavour. Case study regions are the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Västra Götaland in Sweden. In both regions, we will inquire into the building sector, the automotive supply industry as well as into local initiatives (food cycles, repair workshops).
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MOVE - Mapping mobility – pathways, institutions and structural effects of youth mobility in Europe (Nienaber, Vysotskaya, Kmiotek-Meier, Karl)

Coordination: Birte Nienaber, Volha Vysotskaya, Emilia Kmiotek-Meier
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2015-2018
The overall ambition of MOVE is to provide a research-informed contribution towards improving the conditions of the mobility of young people in Europe and a reduction of the negative impacts of mobility through the identification of ways of good practice thus fostering sustainable development and wellbeing.
The main research question is: How can the mobility of young people be ‘good’ both for socio-economic development and for individual development of young people, and what are the factors that foster/hinder such beneficial mobility?
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GR-ATLAS - Atlas digital multidisciplinaire, interactif et dynamique du Luxembourg et de la Grande Région (Pauly, Helfer, Caruso)

PIs: Michel Pauly
, Geoffrey Caruso
Coordination: Malte Helfer, Kerry Schiel,
Funding: Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR)
(2007-2009), UL (2009-)
Duration: 2007-
GR-Atlas is an interactive atlas in the Internet (webGIS) of the "Greater Region SaarLorLux", covering the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the belgian region Wallonia, the former french region Lorraine and the two german Länder Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate. The multidisciplinary atlas, which is still under development, presents a wide range of thematic maps with scientific comment (including economic, religious, social, natural, historical, etc.) treating the entire region as a whole. The displayed objects are linked to an interactively accessible database. When zooming in the map, more detailed information might be displayed.
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RELOCAL - Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development (Nienaber, Blondel, Evrard)

PI: Birte Nienaber
Coordination: Cyril Blondel, Estelle Evrard
Funding: H2020
Duration: 2016-2020
There is an increasing need for developing European Union Cohesion Policy in terms of greater sensitivity towards territorial specificities, more supportive of community-based development and the facilitation of greater civic participation. This also relates to the concern over decreasing identification with the European project among the population. Place-based development, endogenous regional development and territorial capital are some of the policy approaches that have been invoked to facilitate a reorientation of Cohesion Policy and territorial development policy. These need to be connected more specifically to notions of the local and localism. The project will be based on case studies of local contexts (e.g. cities and their regions) that exemplify development challenges in terms of spatial justice.
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SOSBUGS - Social benefits of urban green space (Caruso, Picard)

PI: Geoffrey Caruso
Coordination: Picard
The value of green space for people is widely reported, but knowledge gaps exist about how the spatial distribution, size and proximity of green space affect its use and valuation across different income groups. Moreover there is currently no comprehensive spatial micro-economic model that includes the complexity of interactions between green space and different household groups. These gaps must be researched in order to address the welfare optimality and equity of urban structures and green space distribution, especially since residential markets sort households by income in space, and because green space can potentially be ‘clubbed’ in some neighbourhoods.
The project will contribute further understanding of the interactions between green space and households’ sorting in cities and will identify planning strategies or forms of cooperation or pricing that can lead to a higher social outcome than emerging land market equilibria. More information

PhD projects

Student mobility as transition – a comparison of degree and credit mobile students from Luxemburg (Kmiotek-Meier)

Coordination: Emilia Kmiotek-Meier
Supervision: Birte Nienaber
Duration: 2015-2018
The research focuses transitions of mobile students, taking into account both credit and degree students from Luxembourg. The study analyses academic related stay abroad as a transition on different levels, e.g. within the educational system as transition into higher education, within family/life course as transition into adulthood or as transition between different social networks. At the same time, the interplay of those different transitions is one of dissertation’s central interests. Theoretical lens is the life course perspective, realised in a mixed-methods design (semi-structured interviews and online survey). One of study’s core points is also the role of mobility/migration in the transitions mentioned and in the life course as whole.

Green Building in Regional Strategies for Sustainability: Luxembourg & Freiburg (Jung)

Coordination: Bérénice Jung

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2013-2017
Set within the framework of the GreenRegio project the PhD seeks to retrace how a contextually specific approach of sustainable building is conveyed and materialises into particular projects in the city regions of Luxembourg (LU) and Freiburg (DE). A particular focus is given on the framings and rationales mobilised by actors to justify and legitimise the green building agenda in each of these places, specifically engaging with critical literature on ecological modernisation and the green economy and notably the concept of environmental discourses. Different kind of textual material are analysed qualitatively, including key policy documents and programmes, but also newspaper articles, and further put in perspective with interviews conducted with key actors locally involved in green building.

Connecting political subjectivities for sustainable practice interventions- The case of 30 years of transition in Beckerich, Luxemburg (Doerr)

Coordination: Jan-Tobias Doerr

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2015-2018
In the past 30 years, the Luxemburgish commune Beckerich and the canton Reiden have put forward a range of sustainability interventions, highly progressive in the national context. In the 80’s and 90’s, focus lay on design of new modes of participation and community learning resulting in a decision for a low-carbon transition. In recent years, the transformative local spirit can be seen to ‘spill over’ into the canton, and other fields of community action such as: development of a regional currency, a trans-border river-governance project, and a community supported agriculture (CSA) project in. Meanwhile, substantial reduction of domestic energy and water consumption indicate a change in everyday practices.
This research project aims at understanding the individual motivations and forms of cooperation in which the above-mentioned initiatives emerge. It conceptualizes the local development as interconnected social practices evolving within the process of social learning. A Q-study, on both the level of selected sustainability interventions and the community-level, identifies typified local political subjectivities. These build the backdrop for characterization of the general understandings holding the initiatives together and a discussion of the overall teleological structure of the local development.

Diverse economic practices: Logics and Change (Schmid)

Coordination: Benedikt Schmid

Supervision: Christian Schulz

Duration: 2015-2018
Economies are inherently diverse (Lee 2006). In opposition to monistic representations of “the economy” and capitalocentric narratives, a reading for difference reveals economies as sites of multiple practices, values and ethics (Gibson-Graham 2006, North 2015, Peck 2013). Frequently however, a priority of representations and discourses engenders de-materialized accounts. A praxeological approach takes “doings and sayings” into account and allows for a stronger focus on (im)possibilities of actions as well as on stability & change – without resorting to binary thinking of micro- and macroperspectives (Schatzki 2016). Looking at ‘non-capitalist’, and small-scale ‘capitalist’ ventures in Stuttgart (Germany), this thesis attempts to carve out the diverse logics underlying economic practices, as well as their interrelatedness. In addition, the question is raised, what role the interdependencies between different ventures, projects and actors play in dealing with diverse (institutional) logics. Perspectivally, the thesis aims to contribute to a growing discourse on the transition to more socially and environmentally just economies.

Implementing a circular economy in Luxembourg (CIRCULUX) – Motivations and barriers of companies for shifting towards circularity (Hild)

Coordination: Paula Hild

Supervision: Christian Schulz
Funding: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)

Duration: 2016-2019
In Luxembourg, the economic behavior and development of companies is closely linked with political guidance and incentives at national level. The most recent frame given by the government is the challenge to move towards a circular economy. The aim of this study is to understand what influences companies in Luxembourg shifting towards circularity and to develop circular economy guiding principles for Luxembourg companies. The research will follow a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Emphasis will be put on three points highlighted by different authors for need for further research: 1) the socio-cultural specificities of Luxembourg and related challenges for the implementation of a circular economy (e.g. mix of technical standards, multilingualism, corporate cultures), 2) internal dynamics of actor networks and hybrid organizations that aim to bring CE theory into practice and 3) the articulation between sustainability effectiveness and the cost from the perspectives of various stakeholders.

Completed projects

SUSTAIN_GOV (Carr, Hesse

Research Associate, Project Manager: Constance Carr

Principal Investigator: Markus Hesse

Funding: Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR), CORE Program (Caruso, Schiel)

Coordination: Geoffrey Caruso, Kerry Schiel

GreenRegio - Green building in regional strategies for sustainability: multi-actor governance and innovative building technologies in Europe, Australia, and Canada (Schulz, Affolderbach)

PIs: Christian Schulz, University of Luxembourg and Boris Braun, University of Cologne

Coordination: Julia Affolderbach, University of Luxembourg

PhD candidate: Bérénice Jung, University of Luxembourg
Funding: Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Duration: July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2016
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S-GHOST - Self-Generating Housing Open Space and Transportation in the City (Caruso, Schindler)

Principal investigator: Geoffrey Caruso (UL), Dominique Peeters (UCL, BE), Isabelle Thomas (UCL, BE), Jean Cavailhès (INRA Dijon, FR), Pierre Frankhauser (University of Franche-Comté, Besançon FR)
Funding: FEDER (FR) as part of ODIT-CEUP project; ANR (FR) as part of ECDESUP project
Durée: 2013-2015 (FEDER); 2010-2013 (ANR)
We are involved in the development and testing of a micro-economic based urban growth simulation model S-GHOST, which is and has been part of various wider research projects, including project ECDESUP (Evaluation du Choix et de la Décision dans les Espaces Urbains et Périurbains, led by Pierre Frankhauser, University of Franche-Comté) and now the ODIT-CEUP project (Observatoire des Dynamiques Industrielles et Territoriales - Construction de l'espace urbain et périurbain (Construction of Urban and Periurban Space), led by Cécile Tannier (University of Franche-Comté)). The ongoing CEUP project aims at understanding how innovative planning solutions can improve residential quality and minimize the costs of urban and periurban mobilities. The project applies spatial planning scenarios based on fractal geometry and resilient cities concepts, and uses prospective computer simulation models of urban development.

MST-LISA - Residential Settlement Clusters from Minimum Spanning Tree and Local Index of Spatial Association (Caruso)

Prinicipal investigator: Geoffrey Caruso (LU), Isabelle Thomas (UCL, BE), Mohamed Hilal (INRA Dijon, FR)
Funding: EU RURAGRI call as a part of TRUSTEE project; ANR (FR) as a part of ECDESUP project
Durée: 2013-2015 (EU TRUSTEE); 2010-2013 (ANR)
MST LISA is a spatial analysis project where graph theory and a local spatial autocorrelation index are combined to delineate residential clusters from a detailled GIS dataset of individual residential buildings. The project consists in developing the methods and software codes and conducting applications. MST-LISA has been part of project ECDESUP (Evaluation du Choix et de la Décision dans les Espaces Urbains et Périurbains, led by Pierre Frankhauser, University of Franche-Comté) and now funded under the project TRUSTEE (Towards RUral Synergies and Trade-offs between Economic development and Ecosystem services, led by Cécile Détang-Dessendre, INRA Dijon, FR)

MOEBIUS - MObilities, Environment, Behaviour integrated in Urban Simulation (Caruso)

Coordination: Geoffrey Caruso (UL), Philippe Gerber (CEPS (LU)), Eric Cornélis (University of Namur (BE)), Djamel Khadraoui (CRP H Tudor (LU)), C Enault (University of Strasbourg (FR))
Funding: FNR - CORE
Durée: 2010-2014
MOEBIUS aims to assess different land use planning scenarios in Luxembourg by simulating future urbanisation and commuting mobility, including modal split. Overall the project is similar in its objectives to a Land Use and Transport Interaction model although very modular in its implementation. Specific disaggregated approaches and agents representation are aimed within each subparts: GIS inputs and design of land use planning scenarios, construction of synthetic population, residential choice model, transport mode choice model, and traffic assignment.

Completed PhD projects

REMI - Residential migration of Luxembourgish citizens within the Greater Region. An inter-urban discourse analysis (Christmann)

Coordination: Nathalie Christmann
Supervisor: Markus Hesse
Funding: FNR AFR PhD grant
Duration: 2013-2017
The project aims at assessing the extent of the internationalisation of the housing market within the Greater Region of Luxembourg and its consequences for neighbour cities. The economic development of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the concomitant rise in property prices as well as the extreme housing shortages in Luxembourg lead to an expansion of the housing market into the areas across the border, thus fostering residential cross-border mobility. This has on the one hand an impact on the constitution of the residents living in the border area. On the other hand, the higher purchasing power of the Luxembourgish ’expats‘ may lead to rising ground prices and rents in the target cities as well, thus raising the perception that affordable housing is becoming increasingly critical, fostered by a somehow cross-border gentrification.
In order to frame these issues appropriately, the project combines three different research angles: first, the study design connects the housing market in the rather polycentric ‘Greater Region’ with the issue of cross-border migration; second, our analytical lens will be directed to both urban housing in this particular context and the way it is represented within different discourses (e.g. in planning documents, expert opinions, newspapers); due to the importance of image and reputation for locational choices, third, a discourse analysis approach will be pursued, in the context of everyday practices of ‘doing geography’ or ‘regionalisation’.

BIKEREV - The bike-share revolution: A mixed method comparative study (Médard de Chardon)

Coordination: Cyrille Médard de Chardon

Supervisor: Geoffrey Caruso

Duration: 2012-2016
A study of bike-share system (vélo en libre service) effectiveness, station location and implementation process. This work will do an in-depth analysis of Luxembourg bike-share system (BSS) to better understand how it is being used as a new means of urban mobility. A translantic study will compare BSSs in Europe and North America through quantitative measures while also trying to understand the process and reasoning of BSS implementations and variation between systems.

LUPUS - Large-scale urban projects in Luxembourg – urban integration, governance practices, hegemonic discourses (Leick)

Coordination: Annick Leick
Supervisor: Markus Hesse

Duration: 2012-2016
Since the 1960s several large-scale urban projects have been launched on the small territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Plateau Kirchberg, Belval-Ouest, Gare centrale , Royal Hamilius, Ban de Gasperich Porte de Hollerich etc.). The inclination to plan large-scale projects is actually astonishing, given the size of city and country on the one hand and the rather critical discourse concerning large-scale urban projects in urban studies and in the planning literature on the other hand. Against this background, the research project aims to explore the question whether the observed preference for large-scale urban development projects in Luxembourg, is appropriate given the rather specific local and regional context. Due to the specific framework conditions of the Grand Duchy, Grounded Theory has been chosen as a particular methodology for research. Furthermore, as these large-scale projects are embedded in state modernization, image building and international competition, discourse analysis will be practiced in order to decipher the non-material, yet highly important dimension of communicative construction of space.

EURODIFFUSION – Exploring EU citizens mobility and regional integration through the analysis of Euro coins circulation (Le Texier

Coordination: Marion Le Texier

Supervision: Claude Grasland (University Paris 7), Geoffrey Caruso

Duration: 2010-2013
This thesis aims at analyzing European citizens’ mobility and regional integration through the study of the spatial diffusion of national Euro coins within the Greater Region. The main challenge of the research is to bring new knowledge on the functioning of this particular cross border area, including aspects related to the attractiveness of the different places, barrier effects, limits of the Greater Region as revealed by people mobility, etc. More generally it seeks to develop a method, within a data scarce environment, to evaluate spatial diffusion processes and networks across European territories. Furthermore, this research provides the opportunity to link different families of models used in social sciences (geography, sociology, economy, and demography) or experimental sciences (medicine, biology, physics) with complex system theory.

PERILUX - Combining GIS and hedonic analysis to estimate the value of neighbourhood landscape and accessibility in suburban Luxembourg (Glaesener)

Coordination: Marie-Line Glaesener

Supervision: Geoffrey Caruso

Funding: FNR AFR PhD grant

Duration: 2009-2013
This thesis aims to better understand the periurbanisation process in Luxembourg and quantify the value of landscape amenities and local accessibility. We plan to identify and quantify the essential attributes of periurban externalities that increase the neighbourhoods attractiveness and the willingness to pay of consumers, in order to detect the marginal value of several neighbourhood characteristics by applying the hedonic pricing method on property values. Geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial econometric tools will be combined to account for micro-geographic features and robust estimations.

Political Participation in the “Social City” / Politische Partizipation in der „Sozialen Stadt“ (Schenkel)

Coordination: Kerstin Schenkel
Supervision: Markus Hesse
Duration: 2010-2014
The thesis seeks to investigate the difficulties of political participation in urban policy at local levels, the reasons behind these barriers and the opportunities to overcome. The programs on the Federal level will be analysed, also the logics underlying the regional and local framework strategies and their contents. In so doing, the research aims at answering the following questions: Which standards are set related to their participation term and the forms of participation? How are the conversion processes organised at the local level? Which control and regulation structures are the basis for the action of the relevant participants?
The thesis will be based on field research in Cologne, Germany, and also assess re-lated experience from district and state based policies in Berlin, Germany. Given the ongoing urban development pressure in Luxembourg, the findings will be extremely relevant for improving planning and participation procedures in this country as well.