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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


Gentrification and the Welfare City


Faculty of Social Sciences , University of Helsinki


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies

Master’s Degree Programme in Urban Studies and Planning







900-1490 EUR Learn more




Giacomo Bottà

HSS Gentrification and the Welfare City

Target students

The course is designed for Master’s degree students interested in urbanisation and with a background in urban studies, social sciences, sociology, geography, cultural studies, architecture, urban planning, environmental studies, politics, and economics.

A few places are reserved for students taking the following minor studies: SOSM-501 Kaupunkitutkimus, 15 op.



In this Helsinki Summer School course we explore urbanisation from the point of view of the Nordic ‘welfare city’. We are interested in exploring with you housing provision, transportation, education, the built environment and public spaces, from the standpoints of sustainability and equality. A welfare city, such as Helsinki, built on ideals of equality, the well-being of its citizens, a sustainable balance between the needs of both nature and the people, and responding to social and ecological awareness alike.

However one process affecting the welfare city at the moment is gentrification. From hipster bars to rent increases, gentrification is a common and visible process of contemporary metropolitan restructuring, familiar from cities world around. Often its real meaning and what the process really entails remain invisible. Brought on by uneven investments, gentrification sees capital take over and transform homes and neighbourhoods of low income people and is a cause of displacement and urban inequality – a process poorly suiting the ethos of the welfare city.

The course uses lectures, workshops and excursions in Helsinki to help understand contemporary problems and issues related to gentrification in the Nordic welfare city.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the relation between welfare and urbanisation in the Finnish, Nordic and global context
  • Recognise the main features of a welfare city
  • Familiarise ourselves with theory and concepts of gentrification
  • Recognise the effects of gentrification on the city
  • Acquire a critical understanding of contemporary urbanisation under capitalism

Course format and teaching methods

The course consists of lectures, workshops and excursions. Before and during the course, the students will engage in individual and group work. The interactive learning method is based on an interdisciplinary understanding of urban studies. The students are encouraged to participate actively in the development of case studies and hands-on on-site planning activities in the Helsinki region.

Means and criteria of assessment

The course consists of 1) two assignments to be completed before the beginning of the course; 2) in-course assignments including workshops, group work, individual tasks and active participation in class; and 3) final assignments: individual final essay and a final group presentation.

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday 6.8.2018 Registration begins
Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony
Wednesday 8.8.2018 Courses begin

Course Schedule (pdf)