International PhD Summer School

Ivan Bandura for Unsplash, edited by Anna Karla Almeida, 2022

Call for participation

Designing the socio-ecological transition #2

Unveiling palimpsests of exploitation:
towards a new alliance between ecology and economy in marginal regions

Charleroi (BE) – Lens (FR)
2 – 5 September 2023

 The International PhD Summer School Designing the socio-ecological transition #2 intends to continue the academic and transdisciplinary investigation on the social and ecological transition of marginal spaces and territories of exploitation launched by HRC in December 2022.

The 2022 PhD Seminar sketched an initial portrayal of current research on critical post-extraction territories and marginal spaces scenarios. Different methodologies and approaches to the topic have been debated, and the need emerged to further explore possible actions to operate in contexts of energetic instability, resource contraction, landscapes degradation, and climate urgency.

The 2023 International PhD Summer School will continue the reflection launched with the seminar while integrating an onsite approach allowing PhD students to confront themselves and their research hypothesis with concrete territories and actors. It will therefore represent an opportunity to test the previously formulated hypotheses on an area characterized by permanent land exploitation due to a past mining phase.

Through the fieldwork, and thanks to the synergy with the International Post-Mining Network, we will establish a dialogue and a comparison between, on one side, the ongoing urban and landscape projects and socio-economic policies in the Charleroi and Lens regions and on the other side, a new territorial reading that will be set up during the School, both by unveiling the palimpsests of exploitations and reclamations and by testing a set of hypotheses on the socio-ecological transition. The first hypothesis strikes on the need to recover the sites’ urban qualities.

Complementary, the second hypothesis examines the historical potentialities of these territories that can emerge as drivers and pioneers of the socio-ecological transition.

Program & Output

The Summer School consists of four days of theoretical sessions, site visits, and a PhD conference; during the conference, students will present and debate their research – or parts of it – with a short contribution (max. 12 minutes) related to the proposed topic.

They will further expand their contribution with a paper (10’000 characters max.) to be written after the Summer School. In the paper, PhD students will elaborate on the most significant theoretical and methodological impacts of the summer school on their own hypothesis and methodology – by relating their research with the proposed readings, onsite interactions, keynote conferences, and discussions.

The paper should be returned to [email protected] by November 2023.


The call is addressed to doctoral students in the fields of Architecture, Urbanism, Urban History, Landscape, Geography, and Environmental Sciences, as well as Humanities and Political and Social Sciences interested in the topic.

Up to 12 doctoral students will attend the Summer School and be selected based on a motivation letter in English or French (max. 500 words) and a CV.

The abovementioned documents should be submitted by July 19, 2023, via email to [email protected]. 

Cost and accommodation

The PhD Summer School fee is 100 CHF.

The organisers will provide accommodation from Friday 1st September to Tuesday 5th September, as well as fieldwork expenses.

Travel costs to the PhD summer School are in charge of PhD students.


The Summer School is an initiative of the Habitat Research Center, EPFL, and is part of the study plan of the EDAR doctoral program of the EPFL Doctoral School (EDOC).

The event, co-organized with the chair “post-mining”, seeks to reinforce ongoing collaborations and foster future international collaborations on the topic, in Europe and beyond.

Conceived as an EDAR Doctoral Course, it will give access to 3 credits. For more information, contact [email protected].

Send a motivation letter + CV until July 19, 2023 to [email protected]

Scientific and Organizing Committee
Prof. Paola Viganò          
Prof. Elena Cogato Lanza
(Lab-U, EPFL)
Prof. Tom Avermaete
(ETH Zurich)
Dr. Tommaso Pietropolli

Prof. Béatrice Mariolle
(ENSAPL, Chaire Acclimater les Territoires Post-miniers)

Seminar’s official languages are English and French.