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Growing Cities, Growing Responsibilities – Take the lead to a sustainable future!

March 17th – March 23rd, 2019 | Witten, Germany

Since 2007, about 30 students from all over the world come to Witten once a year for working on issues of sustainability. This Winter School will look at urban development in the Ruhr area and all over the world. Mobility and housing are the two main focus points of the conference. An additional topic worth discussing is social cohesion and engagement. During the week the participants will learn to work on practical solutions for the cities of the future and reflect different perspectives and ideas.



The 2019 oikos Winter School will be full of lively discussions, thought-provoking speakers examining a wide variety of topics. Starting the week, you will have the chance to share your personal expectations. Besides the intellectual input we want to generate a positive and comfortable atmosphere so we have planned several team building activities.

Throughout the week we will learn, among other topics, about dutch cycling, and what an incredible chance the bicycle represents for the change of urban mobility. The North Rhine-Westphalia ministry of construction will give us government perspective insights into urban development projects. Furthermore, civic engagement in urban development will be addressed.

Our location in the former coal mining area, the Ruhr-area, displays a unique opportunity to look at the structural and cultural transition currently in process. As a highlight in the middle of the week, we would like to take you on an excursion to the Zeche Zollverein in Essen, the biggest of the old coal mining industrial hyperstructures.

A panel discussion on necessary constructional measures to achieve the energy transition will finish the week.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity!

The 2019 seven day long oikos Winter School will be full of lively discussions, thought-provoking speakers examining a wide variety of topics, and a lot of fun in the process of finding solutions for a better future.
You won’t have to worry about accommodation or catering. We take care of everything for you.

Unfortunately you have missed the early bird reduction in price. The regular fee will be 285€.

Our speakers


Ruth Reuter works in the Ministry for Regional Identity, Communities and local Government, Building and Gender Equality of the Land of North-Rhine-Westphalia in the Department of city planning and monument conservation with a focus of energetic urban renewal, climate change adjustment and urban development funding.
After her studies of spatial planning in Dortmund, she worked on the local government level in urban and brownfield renewal projects.
The presentation will discuss the process of urban renewal in the view of green city strategies and the necessary cooperation between different stakeholders (local government, stakeholders from neighborhoods and citizens).

Prof. Andreas Wagner is an expert for Building Physics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

Since 1995 he is a Full Professor for Building Physics and Technical Building Services at the Department of Architecture of the KIT. He is Head of the Building Science Group at the Institute of Design and Building Technology.

Besides teaching bachelor and master courses his research focuses on (a) building energy performance monitoring and analysis, (b) simulation-based energy efficient building concepts, and (c) on thermal comfort and occupant behaviour at workplaces.

He is Vice Dean for Research of KIT’s Department of Architecture for Research since 2016.

He was also (founding) partner of ip5 Consulting Engineers Karlsruhe from 1999 until 2016.

Anke Unverzagt works in the “Klimaschutzleitstelle”, Hannover City Administration’s Climate Protection Unit, with a work-emphasis on municipal heat planning, energy concepts and consulting of investors. She also works part time at the Ostfalia University with a research-emphasis on monitoring of energy consumption.
After her studies at the TU Braunschweig, she  worked for well-respected engineering consultants and the local climate protection foundation porKlima.

Mrs. Unverzagt will present how you can create sustainable urban development from a municipal perspective using the example of the Kronsberg-district. As preparation for the following discussion, she will explain her perspective on the opportunities and risks of the energy transition.

Dr. Björn Rau is an expert for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Materialien und Energie. 

Since 2010, he is senior scientist at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and technology manager for the Competence Center for Thin-Film and Nanotechnology for Photovoltaics Berlin (PVcomB). Since 2011, he also holds the position as deputy director for PVcomB. He is also member of the steering committee “Alliance BIPV” and the spokesman of the working group “Research”.

Dr. Rau focuses on bridging the gap between the initial actors of a construction or renovation project and the providers and developers of technical solutions to inform about the untapped potential of BIPV.

Wolfgang Sonne is professor for history and theory of architecture at TU Dortmund University, scientific director of the Baukunstarchiv NRW and deputy director of the Deutsches Institut für Stadtbaukunst. He studied art history and archaeology in Munich, Paris and Berlin and finished his PhD at the ETH Zurich. He taught at the ETH Zurich and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. His publications include: Representing the State. Capital City Planning in the Early Twentieth Century, 2003; Die Medien der Architektur, ed., 2011; Urbanity and Density in Twentieth Century Urban Design, 2017; Städtebau der Normalität. Der Wiederaufbau urbaner Stadtquartiere im Ruhrgebiet, ed., 2018.

Mark Wagenbuur is founder of Bicycle Dutch, a blog about cycling in the Netherlands. For many years he has closely followed the planning and development of cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands and he enjoys showing this to the world in his videos and blog posts.

His YouTube channel gives a great impression of Dutch cycling and cycling infrastructure. Visit his blog as well.

Jan Bunse studied spatial planning and human geography in Dortmund and Nijmegen (NL) with a focus on allocation concepts for shared spaces (2006-2015). Since 2011 he is member of the management board and active in various subsections for the urbanists in Dortmund: participation projects with young people, district development through creative industries, projects in the field of urban gardening / farming, digital urban development. Since 2016 Jan is Project Manager for Community Urban Production in the research association of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

15th oikos Winter School

Since 2007, about 30 students from all over the world come to Witten once a year for working on issues of sustainability. Here, respecting the triple bottom line of social, ecological, and economic sustainability receives special attention. For one week, the participants analyze theories, methods, and case studies and reflect different perspectives and ideas.

The oikos Winter School is organized by the members of the oikos chapter University of Witten/Herdecke. We are continuing the the past years’ commitment in 2019. oikos International was founded in 1987 as an international student organization that works at 40 universities worldwide, addressing sustainability issues especially at business schools. oikos International and the local groups at universities are working towards the goal of creating a more conscious approach to the possible consequences of our current action.

The 15thoikos Winter School goes by the name: Growing Cities, Growing Responsibilities – Take the lead to a sustainable future!

Cities are the living space of the future. Diverse prognostics predict a 75% share of population living in cities by 2050. With this shift the responsibility to care for the environment is equally growing. As of today, cities already consume two thirds of all available energy and they are responsible for over 70% of CO2 emissions. Smog and particulates are the reason to many people’s suffering. About 80% of the world’s population live within 60 miles of the oceans. Thus, they are inherently threatened by rising sea levels. However, cities have the chance to drive change by taking advantage of the nature of their structure: the network.

In an intensive week filled with lively discussions, interesting speakers debating a wide variety of topics and a lot of fun in the process of finding possible short-term solutions of our ecological challenges. The topics mobility and architecture are the two keystones that guide us through the conference. Further topics like economic and social sustainability have their place as well.

The conference’s goal is to sensitize participants to problem-solution oriented analysis of sustainable development in cities and to provide practical experience in the field. It is time to not only develop solutions but to implement them. Where are the biggest issues and chances?

The conference takes place from March 17thto March 23rd, 2019 at Witten/Herdecke University. Witten is in the north of Germany’s biggest metropolitan area, the ‘Ruhrpott’, with about five million inhabitants.

Be a part to mould modern cities and be a positive influence on society and environment.

Where and when

University Witten/Herdecke
Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50
58455 Witten, Germany

March 17th– March 23rd, 2019

2019 team

We are a team of nine students from the University Witten/Herdecke, Germany, convinced of our shared responsibility in promoting the necessity to act with future generations in mind.

(from left to right)

Florian Mende (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics),
Leron Lupin (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics),
Fabio Moyzes (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics),
Larissa Mendel (B.Sc. Management),
Konrad Zöckler (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics),
Elisa Di Fina (B.Sc. Management),
Johannes Buldmann (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics),
Marlon Warrach (B.Sc. Management),
Philip Samanek (B.A. Philosophy, Politics & Economics)


We are very happy to be displaying every single one of our sponsors here. 


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Get in Touch

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email!