Research Overview

The goal of the The Future of My City is to bring students from the German Ruhr Area and the American Rust Belt together and provide them with thought-provoking impulses and inspiration in order to create solutions of challenges the regions face.

Project Tasks

As part of the project you will work on the following questions in your chosen research area / topic:

  1. What are some of the challenges that your city or region faces in terms of socio-economic / environmental /cultural or political sustainability? What initiatives have already been implemented, and to what effect?
  2. Based on what you have found out about your own region, how do other regions in Germany/the U.S. respond to some of the challenges that you have already researched. Discuss some of the differences and similarities, success stories and failures in order to learn from each other.
  3. For your own project, focus on one particular challenge and develop an innovative solution. Prepare a presentation that both experts and the general public can understand. Formats include but are not limited to a research paper (not to exceed 5 pages), a short film, a presentation with slights or an exhibition.

Research Areas and Topics

Below you will find a list of areas and topics commonly mentioned in news media and research on the revival and further development of the Ruhr Area and Rust Belt region.

Project participants are invited to choose a topic from the list below and develop an innovative solution. We are also open to new topic proposals, as long as the topic is relevant for the further development of at least one of the regions.

Economic Development

Before the middle of the 20th century, the Ruhr Area and the Rust Belt experienced an economic boom that was largely based on heavy industries like steel production and coal mining. In the wake of the collapse of coal mining and steel production in the 1970s, both regions began to diversify their economies.
Read more

Urban Development

Post-industrial cities are known to have a rusty, grey character with landscapes decimated by idle coal mines and steel factories. Their past urban development can be mainly traced back to industrial logistic paths and past housing needs of much needed workforce. At the same time, current trends, such as urban renewal and regionalization demand new shifts in the cities’ development plans. Both regions present initiatives to approach the transformation of their post-industrial character in order to offer a sustainable and prospects urban future.
Read more

Social and Cultural Development

The collapse of industries like coal and steel in the second half of the 20th century affected many cities in the Ruhr Area and Rust Belt Region. As a result, communities suffered from population loss, high unemployment, crime, lack of education and declining tax revenues. Many cities and communities have implemented plans and policies targeted at social and cultural revival.
Read more


Project Team


Funded by

Implemented by

Supported by