International Summer School 2015

Mapping Visaginas / Sources of Urbanity in Post-industrial Cities

Date & Place: 20.9. – 3.10. 2015, Visaginas, Lithuania
Organization: Laboratory of Critical Urbanism
Partners:, Herder Institut & EHU’s Center for German Studies
Support: German Academic Exchange Service DAAD / Program GoEast 


This Summer School is organized by the European Humanities University’s Laboratory of Critical Urbanism in order to bring together students from Germany, Belarus and Lithuania in a two-week course on mapping social practice in relation to the built environment of the Lithuanian post-industrial town of Visaginas – a former satellite of a nuclear power plant erected in 1975. The school will be composed of a mix of lectures, seminars, excursions and supervised fieldwork, during the course of which the students will be guided in the process of how to research the social and spatial relations of contemporary Central- and Eastern Europe. The product of the students’ work at the school will be to create an exploratory mapping project of a particular dimension of Visaginas and to develop a scenario of its future development.

In many respects Visaginas can be taken as a showcase of the risks involved in the transition from a town reliant on an external top-down allocation of resources and work force, to a town compelled to survive in a competitive environment of a multilateral and multi-scalar determination of resources and workplaces. The urban structure and services of Visaginas were planned and built from scratch in the context of the short-term economic abundance related to the project of the adjacent Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (1975-2009). For this reason, Visaginas was considered to be one of Soviet Lithuania’s best examples of a centrally planned mono-functional urban unit, highly successful in terms of architectural decisions, quality of living and human capital. From the 1990s – due to the gradual shutting down of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant as a consequence of Lithuania’s EU accession, largely determined by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 – the town has stopped growing, with concomitant social phenomena of growing unemployment, dwellers’ anxiety about the future and around 20 percent population decline.

More info >  CfP Sources of Urbanity – Mapping Visaginas 

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International Workshop : Cultures of Shrinking – Visaginas

Date & Place: 24.2. – 26.2.2015, Visaginas, Lithuania
Organization: Laboratory for Critical Urbanism, European Humanities University
Partners: Estonian Art Academy Tallin, Herder-Institute Marburg, Lithuanian Social Research Centre, & EHU Center for German Studies
Support: Deutsch-Baltisches Hochschulkontor Riga, DAAD


In the framework of this workshop we explore existing research on cultures of shrinking in post-industrial towns, with particular reference to the case of Visaginas. We wish to discuss how a variety of understandings of culture are and can be employed in the discussions of the future of Visaginas, as a specific example of the wider phenomenon of shrinking urban settlements in the context of the Baltic States.

Visaginas has undergone a radical transition from rapid growth under conditions of Soviet planned, mono-functional industrial development to dramatic shrinkage under those of a multilateral and multi-scalar competitive determination of resources and workplaces. The urban structure of Visaginas was planned from scratch in the context of short-term economic abundance created by the construction of the adjacent Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (1975-2009). For this reason, Visaginas is considered one of the best examples of a centrally planned, mono-functional urban unit in the Baltics, highly successful in terms of architectural decisions, quality of living and human capital. Because of the rapid Soviet mode of urbanization, the Visaginas population historically consisted of nuclear scientists, engineers, construction workers and their family members brought from the entire Soviet Union, while it was mainly the nuclear power plant and collectively constructed housing blocks that facilitated local belonging and enabled identification with place.

More Info > Cultures of Shrinking – Visaginas

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Call for academic year 2014/2015_deadline 11.07.2014.

Critical Urban Studies at the European Humanities University

Today, the city has become a growing and promising field of study. It is in cities that we witness the potential for emergent modes of democracy, for brand new types and places of work, and for expanding niches for communication, as well as for incipient paradigms of social exclusion and injustice. Being particularly sensitive to the prevalent trends in city life, urban studies is at the center of changing relationships between traditional realms of architecture, politics, technology, spatial planning, cultural industries, historical policy, and consumption habits. Doing urban studies critically means being skilled to analytically connect these outwardly separated realms and being able to envisage the outcomes of intensifying connections between them.


Bilingual (Russian/English) MA track Critical Urban Studies at the EHU provides knowledge of:

  • social theories and methodologies of sociological research
  • the most pressing issues of urban life, and the theories used to address them
  • tools for coding and visualizing key tendencies in urban environments
  • methodologies of historical urban anthropology in Central and Eastern Europe
  • skills of territorial branding and marketing
  • typologies of architectural forms
  • guidelines for analyzing and reprogramming the urban environment through ‘soft’ instruments of spatial planning
  • media theories and tools of video production

By using cutting edge theory from a variety of disciplines, the MA track promotes an environment where teaching and research are tightly intertwined. The MA thesis is an opportunity for students to realize an innovative research project under the close supervision of faculty members, well established in their field of expertise.

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In addition, the Critical Urban Studies MA track was set up in close cooperation with the Visual and Cultural Studies MA track at the EHU Department of Media, thus significantly enriching the pool of knowledge and faculty available to students, as well as the range of academic events and project ventures in which students can engage.

The Laboratory of Critical Urbanism at EHU is a research platform that enables students on the Critical Urban Studies track to participate in a wide variety of international and local extra-curriculum activities, such as summer and winter schools, workshops, conferences, art exhibitions and biennales, collective publication projects, excursions, public lectures and round tables. Vilnius as a city is a comfortable, historically rich and multicultural environment that serves as a great encouragement to live an active intellectual and social life. The Laboratory of Critical Urbanism cooperates with a range of Vilnius based institutions including active architects, urban community animators, academic and applied historians, and social and cultural activists.

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more info about Cultural Studies Program and admission procedure 

International Winter School 2014

Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius

21.2. – 8.3. 2014, Vilnius, Lithuania

“Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius” is a two week winter school exploring dilemmas of contemporary urbanisation in Eastern Europe by performing a deep mapping of two districts of Vilnius: Karoliniškės/Lazdynai and Šnipiškės. 20 years after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, radical changes have occurred both in the social practices and urban forms of cities of the region, such as Vilnius. At the same time, however, the life of these cities is also shaped by the fact that large sections of their built environments are still composed of infrastructure constructed to form the habitats of urban life under different social paradigms. The aim of the winter school is to perform bottom-up explorations of how social practices are today emerging in relation to the material infrastructures and local historical perceptions of two very different case districts. Through these explorations participants will gather information, which they will use as the basis of the creation of experimental mapping projects to be presented, by the end of the school.

This winter school is organized by the European Humanities University’s Laboratory of Critical Urbanism in collaboration with Lithuanian partners, such as Archfondas and, and will bring together German, Belarusian and Lithuanian students in a programme of lectures, seminars, meetings with practitioners, fieldwork, mapping workshops and a cultural programme including a weekend visit to Druskininkai. The school takes a deliberately inter-disciplinary approach to the study of cities and invites applications from students of urban studies, sociology, cultural studies, history, geography, anthropology, architecture and students of film and photography, as well as all students interested in the development of urban forms and the transformations of the societies of Eastern Europe.

International Winter School:  Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius

Organization:  Laboratory of Critical Urbanism

Winter School is supported by LitPro and DAAD program GoEast

Partners:  Archfondas,, EHU’s Center for German Studies

Date & Place:    21.2. – 8.3. 2014, Vilnius, Lithuania

More information on the GoEast Program 2014 and scholarship application details :

Target group: Students in Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, European Studies, History, Architecture, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Film Studies & Photography

Language: English is the common working language. Some knowledge of Lithuanian, Polish or Russian will be helpful.

Certificate: 5 ECTS certificate will be provided after handing in a final paper

Application: CV (1 page), Letter of Intent (1 page), recommendation

Deadline for applications: 10.1.2014

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CfP mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius






JUST Sleeping District? Lazdynai for Lunatics

JUST Sleeping District? Lazdynai for Lunatics is the practical element of the course “The Production of Space in the Digital Age” on the Masters of Critical Urbanism at the European Humanities University in Vilnius. The course explores both the potential that digital mapping technologies offer for critical studies of spatial issues, and also considers how digital technologies are impacting on ways of perceiving, managing and experiencing spaces.

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