This paper, presented by our consortium member Vera Marin from the University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” (UAUIM) at the FAST: The Festival for Architecture Schools of Tomorrow, explores the pedagogical potential of organizing students’ communications sessions as a way of teaching complexity in relation to urban design and circularity. The paper is based on the experiences and outcomes of the Applied Research and Urban Design (ARUD) discipline, which is offered to the 4th year students in urban planning and landscape design at UAUIM.

The ARUD discipline aims to develop the students’ critical thinking and transversal competences, such as team work, communication, and learning how to learn, through experiential learning and public presentation. The students are required to formulate an applied research question in connection to urban design principles, and to select and apply the methods for finding the answers, such as literature review, case-studies, and interviews. The students are also encouraged to engage in current professional debates by participating in summer schools, workshops, editorial projects, etc.

The paper focuses on the 2022-2023 edition of the ARUD discipline, which was centered on the circular city concept, which is also the core concept for our CircularCityChallenge project. The paper compares this edition with the previous one, which was based on the InClimate international project within the Erasmus program. The paper analyzes how the students’ communications sessions, which were organized as online public events, helped the students to explore the complexity of the content and to increase their level of autonomy. The paper also discusses the challenges and opportunities of teaching about circularity or climate change in relation to urban design, and the role and responsibility of architecture education and practice in addressing these issues.

The paper is available for download. We hope that this paper will provide useful insights and inspiration for educators, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who are interested in teaching and learning about urban circularity and sustainability.