Sustainable Urban Development & Social Justice

Explore different approaches Spanish cities are taking to pursue sustainable urban development while confronting social justice issues.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jun 1 ‎– Jul 12

Program Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon


Why Study Sustainable Urban Development in Spain?

On this six-week, six-credit summer program, you will examine sustainable urban development and social justice in the European Union, where cities and local governments have control over the decisions that affect them. As a result, cities such as Bilbao are developing strategic plans for their future.

This program looks at multilevel governance in praxis: how a city actively participates in planning for its development. Explore how Bilbao is integrating territory, environment and sustainability, transportation, well-being, identity and other characteristics to balance the needs of institutions, corporations, NGOs, and, of course, its people. Learn how civil society becomes part of the discussion about how cities function and how housing is—or is not—a right in a post pandemic economic crisis. You will have the opportunity to compare and contrast Bilbao’s experiences with other cities, including Vitoria, Girona, and Barcelona.


  • Learn how EU cities in the 21st century organize, relate and co-govern.
  • Understand the “right to the city” and implications such as the fights against evictions and gentrification.
  • Learn how model cities in Spain are implementing ways to confront gentrification, housing, the environment, migration, transportation, and other issues.
  • Learn how civil society organizations and social movements engage in multilevel governance.





You will take several short excursions around Bilbao to gain a firsthand look at how the city is pursuing sustainable urban development.

Catalonia: Barcelona and Girona

You will take a week-long excursion to Barcelona and Girona in Catalonia to learn about civil society engagement and meet with grassroots leaders, city officials, and human right advocates. You will have classes with lecturers from the University of Girona, members of local government, human rights observatories, and social movements, among others.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Sustainable urban development
  • Rights to the city
  • Multilevel governance
  • Civil society and cities
  • Private-public perspectives on 21st century cities

Sustainable Urban Development in the Basque Country

Sustainable Urban Development in the Basque Country – syllabus
(URST 3000 / 3 credits)

EU regions and cities have considerable influence over decisions that affect them. Cities like Bilbao are developing strategic plans for the future. This is governance in praxis in which civil society takes an active part in planning for how the city will develop. Bilbao is integrating territory, environment and sustainability, transportation, well-being, identity and other characteristics to balance the needs of institutions, corporations, NGOs, and, of course, its people.

Housing Rights and the Right to the City

Housing Rights and the Right to the City – syllabus
(URST 3500 / 3 credits)

In this course, students will approach the topic of cities from a grassroots, social justice, and civil society perspective. They will learn about the “right to city” versus gentrification; the right to decent housing and how it is recognized in national and international legal frameworks; and the difficulties that Spanish cities have been confronting since the 2008 financial crisis such as high rents, gentrification, evictions, and squatting.



Spend six weeks with a local family in the multicultural city of Bilbao. Become immersed in the daily life and the rich cultural heritage of a Spanish Basque family as you participate in colorful Spanish and Basque traditions and celebrations. Your host family will share their insider tips about how to spend leisure time in and around the city. Take in Bilbao from a river boat down the Ria del Nervión with a number of famous attractions along its banks like the Ribera Market, the iconic Guggenheim Museum, and the historic Ayuntamiento, the historic town hall. Known for its specialty cuisine, Bilbao is also home to some of the country’s best pintxos bars (taverns) to explore with new friends and your homestay family.

Other Accommodations

Hostels and modest hotels

Career Paths

Students on this program may consider career paths in different sectors including:

  • Public policy

  • Advocacy

  • Public relations

  • Government and administration

  • International development

Faculty & Staff

Spain: Sustainable Urban Development & Social Justice

Victor Tricot, PhD
Academic Director

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown