May Intensive: Sustainable Cities in Germany

470.755 Sustainable Cities in Germany:
Lessons for the United States

May Intensive: May 13-19, 2018

470.755 Sustainable Cities in Germany



This course is open to all JHU AAP graduate students as an elective in their master’s degree program.

Introduction and Course Description

Today, more half of the world’s population lives in metropolitan regions, and current studies by the United Nations suggest that by 2030, that number will approximate two-thirds of the world’s population. Metropolitan regions around the globe, including in the US, face unprecedented challenges with the development and maintenance of appropriate housing, health services, energy, transportation and water infrastructures. Now more than ever, the sustainable development equation is totally dependent on the stability of the urban variable.

By most performance benchmarks, German cities and regions are global pioneers in urban, social, economic and environmental innovations/reforms. From a US perspective, Germany’s climate, workforce training, urban infrastructure and health care systems are models of innovation. Berlin’s district energy and Stuttgart’s green infrastructure programs are considered world-class and have inspired many equivalent programs around the world. Ironically, within the US, there are few formal or institutional mechanisms by and for US cities to formally identify or suitably assess transfer opportunities of urban innovations from countries such as Germany to the US.

This course addresses two important, but overlooked global urban phenomena – the development of world-class urban sustainability plans in Berlin and the Stuttgart region and their suitable transfer and application to cities in the US.  This class will be designed to expose the student to the evolution and performance of renewable energy, public transit, water infrastructure, workforce training and social inclusion innovations – in these metropolitan regions and the ways that they may (or not) be considered suitable for adoption in the US. By the end of this course the student will have developed an appreciation for the pioneering urban sustainability programs of Berlin and Stuttgart and the phenomena of cross-national policy transfer to the US.


There will be three parts to this class:
 1 Students will meet in Washington DC for one session on May 8th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, for a pre-departure overview of the course, class syllabus, readings, and logistics. Remote access will be provided for students not in DC. We will include an Adobe Connect or Call-In Option for students at a distance.
 2 The in-country portion of the class, which takes place May 13-19 in Berlin and Stuttgart Germany. Note: You need to arrive in Berlin no later than Sunday May 13, 2018, 6 pm.
 3 A post-trip de-brief in Washington DC, on May 24, 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Again, remote access will be provided for students not in Washington DC. Students will be required to share a 5-slide (maximum), 6-minute presentation summarizing the lessons learned from the exchange that links to the core policy transfer themes of their case study.


This course will consist of lectures, site visits and discussions concerning urban sustainability innovations in Berlin and the Stuttgart region and the potential for transferring those innovations to the US.  Discussions will be led by senior officials from the climate, social inclusion, workforce training, energy and infrastructure communities of Berlin and Stuttgart region, including the governmental (national and sub-national), business and non-governmental sectors.


The syllabus will contain a list of selected readings from books, journals and homepages relevant to each of the class meetings and site visits that each student is required to read prior to the start of the trip. These reading will be available via e-reserves in the course Blackboard site.

Course Themes

  • Policy Transfer
  • Climate Change
  • Urban Infrastructure (Green/Water, Energy, Transportation)
  • Workforce Training
  • Social Inclusion

Assignments and Grading

60% Readings, Attendance and Participation
40% Final Report of a Case Study

Attendance and Participation: Students should come on time and be well-prepared for the meetings and site visits in Berlin and Stuttgart.  Students are expected to be engaged and ready to ask questions and share thoughts and ideas about the readings as these relate to the meetings we will be having. As much as possible we will try to have daily debrief session to discuss all we are being exposed to.

Case Study: Please pick any existing “Sister Cities” partnership between any US/German (e.g. Arlington-Aachen, Stuttgart/St. Louis; Berlin/Los Angeles). Please write a case study approximately 15 pages in length (double-spaced) that describes a particular aspect of Berlin’s (or German Sister City equivalent) climate, social housing, workforce training, energy, transportation, building, water infrastructure or environmental policy or technology innovation observed during the class. The case study will be due midnight June 1st. The case study should be broken down into three parts:

  • Characterize the US city’s domestic challenge(s);
  • Characterizes and assesses the particular urban technical or policy innovation in Berlin or Freiburg;
  • Assesses the potential transfer opportunities and/or barriers of that innovation to the Sister City in the United States. 

Academic Honesty:  It is expected that all wording and ideas presented in any written work handed in for this class are your own, unless you have explicitly credited your source/s. It is also assumed that any work turned in for this class was composed exclusively for this class. Please refer to the Johns Hopkins University Ethics Statement, which asserts that “The strength of the university depends on academic and personal integrity. In this course, you must be honest and truthful. Ethical violations include cheating on exams, plagiarism, reuse of assignments, improper use of the Internet and electronic devices, unauthorized collaboration, alteration of graded assignments, forgery and falsification, lying, facilitating academic dishonesty, and unfair competition. Report any violations you witness to the instructor.”

Notional Course Schedule

Course Schedule (Subject to change)
Saturday or Sunday, May 12/13 Depart Washington D.C.
Sunday, May 13 Free Time
Monday, May 14 Meetings at German Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Meetings at German Federal Ministry of Environment
Meetings at Germany Federal Ministry of Youth and FamiliesSite Visits to Refugee Center
Site Visit Large-Scale Energy Efficiency Housing Project
Site Visit to Topographie of Terror
Tuesday, May 15 Berlin City Senate
Berlin City Environment Department
Berlin Regional Transportation Department
Berlin City Department of Social ServicesSite Visit to Vattenfall’s Vocational Training Program
Site Visit to Euro
Wednesday, May 16 Meetings w/ Members of German Parliament
Tour of BundestagTravel to Stuttgart
Thursday, May 17 Meetings at Verband Region Stuttgart on Regional Climate Planning
Meetings at State of Baden Wuerttemberg’s Ministry of EnvironmentSite Visit of Workforce Training at Trumpf Corporation
Site Visit to Stuttgart Greenbelt
Site Visit to Scharnhauser Park – Model Sustainability Planning
Friday, May 18 Meetings at University of Stuttgart Innovation Center
Meetings at City of Stuttgart’s Department of Environment
Meetings at State of Baden Wuerttemberg’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and SportsSite Visit of Workforce Training at Daimler
Site Visit to Elementary School
Saturday, May 19 Free Time or Depart

Course Tuition and Costs

Tuition and Course Fee
Course Tuition $3,783
(Subject to change)
Course Fee (Non-refundable; Firm, will not increase) $500
Total Costs (Tuition and Course Fee) $4,283
Costs (In-Country Travel and Accommodations – ESTIMATES)
Travel (Estimated Local Transportation & Train to Stuttgart) $450
Food & Lodging (Estimated) $1,100
Total Costs (Travel and Accommodations) $1,550*

*Does not include transportation to Berlin; As of 11/17 RT airfare from Dulles to Berlin in 5/18 is approximately $600.

Note: Students are responsible for their own transportation to/from Berlin.


Registration for the course will open on November 15th and close on February 1st.  Students will register for this course in SIS. Payment of Tuition and Course Fee is due at the time of registration (Tuition $3,783 + Course Fee $500).  If a student decides to drop this course, $500 of the tuition is non-refundable and also the course fee is non-refundable, regardless of a student’s payment method (financial aid, employer assistance, tuition remission, etc.). Please note: This course does not follow the regular tuition refund schedule and ALL tuition and fees for the course are NON-REFUNDABLE after the course closes on February 1st.


The course needs 10 people to run and closes at 15. Refunds will be made if there are not enough people register to run the course.  Registration will be on a first come, first served basis. DO NOT PURCHASE TRAVEL OR MAKE OTHER INVESTMENTS IN YOUR TRIP UNTIL YOU HEAR FROM DR. HILL THAT THERE ARE ENOUGH PARTICIPANTS TO RUN THE COURSE. This will be determined by February 2nd or possibly earlier.

Health and Travel Insurance 

Well before departure, check with your doctor to see if you need any immunizations or medications before traveling. Immunization information can also be found at the sites for the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization International Travel and Health. Click here for the Johns Hopkins University Travel Resources.

Participants should make sure their health insurance and accident insurance covers them while traveling abroad. Additional coverage can be purchased through a variety of travel insurance options. To compare policies and for further information, visit a travel insurance comparison site such as Insure My Trip or Square Mouth.

In addition, Johns Hopkins is a member of International SOS, which covers JHU students and offers medical assistance and emergency assistance. It is a 24–hour Worldwide Assistance and Emergency Evaluation Service available for Johns Hopkins University students: International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services, and outsourced customer care. Member #11BSGC000019

For more information about SOS, click here. For more travel information please click here. Instructions for printing out your SOS card are provided there.

Important Forms for the Course

Note: For the International Travel Registry, you will need to log-in using your JHED ID. Click on the “My Travel Profile” in the upper left-hand corner. Please complete the “My Travel Profile” form in its entirety.

These forms all need to be completed by April 2, 2018.

Note: Emergency Contact Information in Germany will be provided before departure.