Travelling Conference on Urban Transformation in Industrial Regions

Travelling Conferences (TCs) are a format designed to promote and foster international exchange about specific current issues. In addition, they aim at enhancing cross-fertilization and synergies in research actions by strengthening excellence through global cooperation. The identification of excellence in education, research and innovation in partner regions, however, requires an intensive exploratory dialogue process that goes beyond the organization of singular, free-standing events. It is better achieved through a series of events held at different locations in targeted countries. For this purpose, a group of representatives from German universities, research institutions, local businesses and administrations, alongside small delegations from participating institutions in the partner regions, travel to selected locations in order to present the potential for cooperation to the broadest possible group of stakeholders.

With particular reference to this TC series, the thematic focus lies on questions of current urban transformation and comparable challenges faced by many metropolitan regions around the world (e. g. post-industrial transformation, demographic change, urban strategies of climate change mitigation and adaptation, waterfront development) as well as on the the ways in which policies, strategies, and blueprints for such transformations are exchanged globally (e. g. research on policy diffusion, policy mobility, travelling concepts).

Accordingly, the format outlined for the TCs combines a theoretical and conceptual approach along with an empirical section on selected current policies. Throughout all editions, the Ruhr region is taken as “reference case” for post-industrial restructuring with a twofold purpose: On the one hand, to export the story of its successful transformation towards a knowledge-based metropolis, sharing with local decision-makers the planning strategies that made it possible together with the know-how matured along the way; on the other hand, to stimulate the exchange of experiences with industrial regions worldwide which have undergone a similar transformation, along with fueling the debate regarding current challenges and future goals that such economic, social and spatial restructuring entails.

To date, four thematically and structurally similar events are planned to take place in Japan, South Korea, Germany and the United States, with the Osaka edition kicking off the TC series in November 2019. Representatives of KoMet, the University Alliance Ruhr and the Ruhrgebiet will be travelling to all locations accompanied by up-to-three delegates from the partner regions. To address and elaborate on the above-mentioned issues as well as to identify relevant topics of reciprocal interest and potential research tracks, a number of presentations will be given at each conference, supplemented by panel and round-table discussions.


First edition held in Osaka, Japan


The first edition of the TC was held at the Urban Research Plaza of Osaka City University on November 18-19, 2019. On-site organization was carried out by the host institution in cooperation with the Research Centre for Local Human Resources and Policy Development of Ryukoku University in Kyoto. On the Ruhrgebiet side, organization and project management was implemented four-handed by KoMet and the IN-EAST School of Advanced Studies on Innovation in East Asia of the University of Duisburg-Essen. The event, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aimed at sharing transformation experiences between the Ruhr and Kansai regions.

To learn more about the programme and the participating delegations, please see the brochure of the event.

Here you can find some impressions of the event.

Second edition held in Ulsan, South Korea

The second edition of the TC took place back-to-back with the Osaka event on November 21-22, 2019. It was held at the Lotte Hotel and at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Ulsan, with Hannam University and the Ulsan Development Institute partnering in the organization. Like the first edition, organization and coordination tasks on the German side were shared between by KoMet and the IN-EAST School of Advanced Studies on Innovation in East Asia of the University of Duisburg-Essen. The event, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aimed at extending the cross-national comparison to metropolitan Ulsan and relevant neighboring cities within the larger, polycentric Korea’s southeast region (a.k.a. Yeongnam region).

To learn more about the programme and the participating delegations, please see the brochure of the event.

Here you can find some impressions of the event.

Third edition to be hold in Essen, Germany

Originally planned for 2020 and postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the third edition of the TC will take place on March 4-5, 2022, at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The event, organized and coordinated by KoMet in tandem with the Emschergenossenschaft, has been scheduled back-to-back with the Congress “Fascination Transformation” (March 2-3, 2022) aimed at celebrating the completion of the Emscher conversion. Both events will be sponsored by the State Ministry of Urban Development (MHKBG) of North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to comparing urban transformation experiences, this edition of the TC will encompass a disciplinary overview of approaches and methodologies for analyzing urban change.

To learn more about the draft programme and the participating delegations, please see the preliminary brochure of the event.


Fourth edition to be hold in Cincinnati, USA

Originally scheduled for 2020 and postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth event of the TC series will be held at the Max Kade Center of the University of Cincinnati on September 19-20, 2022. Organization-related activities will be carried out by the host institution in collaboration with KoMet, with the latter being also responsible for project management tasks. This edition, promoted by the Emschergenossenschaft, will bring the focus of the comparative perspective on the Ruhrgebiet and the Rust Belt, with research findings and topics from previous events keeping informing the comparison.

To learn more about the draft programme and the participating delegations, please see the preliminary brochure of the event.