Students at HEC Lausanne invent the city of tomorrow.
Students in the 3rd year of their Bachelor’s program at HEC Lausanne will be getting down to work imagining their ideal city when they come back in February, as part of an all-new course called “Cities of Tomorrow”, instigated by the city of Lausanne and its shopkeepers. The first course will run for 14 weeks (over a total of 14 mornings) and will examine the retail business, with over 30 invited speakers and experts from all backgrounds.
A fine contribution from the academic world to the development of the local economic fabric, made possible thanks to the City Management Lausanne Foundation, which approached Fabrice Leclerc, lecturer at HEC Lausanne (UNIL) to answer the question: “How can the city’s shops benefit from the major human and technological changes taking place in the world?”
Online shopping is growing rapidly all over the world, drastically changing consumption habits and in particular, reducing footfall in city centers. The city of Lausanne is no stranger to the new paradigm, which is having a direct impact on retail trade.
As an expert in innovation and a humanist at heart, who respects society’s values and well-being, Fabrice Leclerc came up with the idea of putting the question to the students who will live and very soon be in charge of their “city of tomorrow”, with Lausanne directly in their sights. The result was the development of the “Cities of Tomorrow” course, for 3rd year Bachelor’s students at HEC Lausanne.
The first course starts on February 28, and run for the spring semester, focusing on the retail sector. It will be repeated once a year, examining a different theme in connection with creating the city of the future.
“We are aiming to achieve an unparalleled level of well-being and prosperity in cities, for example by using the immense potential for collaboration, either in terms of the city’s population or between shopkeepers. The aim is to think about cities that can create a common good, and ultimately a better life than today,” explains Fabrice Leclerc.
An all-new course with over 30 invited speakers
That same spirit of collaboration and sharing can be found in the very essence of the course. Innovation is taught in practical terms on the “Cities of Tomorrow” program, based on a totally innovative approach that will give students the chance to interact with over 30 key figures either by videoconference, or in person on the UNIL campus. The range of invited speakers includes emblematic figures with a worldwide reputation, opinion leaders from the region’s political and economic spheres, and key stakeholders who are directly involved in the day-to-day running of the city, such as cooks, gardeners, etc.
The aim, by the end of the course, is to offer real solutions to the City Management Foundation. “We hope that these exchanges will be profitable and inspiring, and will encourage shopkeepers to identify new, innovative, practical approaches. The aim is to attract increasingly demanding customers, ensure they feel welcome and offer them a positive experience,” emphasizes Doris Cohen-Dumani, President of the Foundation.
And in pedagogical terms?
The “Cities of Tomorrow” program is a pedagogical innovation in itself.
It will no longer be the teachers who choose the topics, but the students themselves who explore the subjects they think are important. They will be working and interacting with shopkeepers in the city, ultimately building a community of actors and personalities cooperating to achieve a common goal of general prosperity.
It promises to be a fascinating experience!
par Chantal Béhar