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Sustainable Urban Development & Social Justice

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

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jun 5 – Jul 18

Program Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Climate & Environment


Why study abroad in Spain?

On this six-week, six-credit study abroad summer program in Spain, 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.



program map


Bilbao & Vitoria

You will take several short excursions around Bilbao to gain a firsthand look at how the city is pursuing sustainable urban development. While in Vitoria, you will meet with city officials and a community organization.

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.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Describe the current European Union institutional arrangement and the empirical effects of the application of the principle of subsidiarity. 
  • Identify the urban and policy measures that make Bilbao a sustainable city. 
  • Articulate the current theoretical and empirical implications about the concept of the “rights to the city.” 
  • Analyze the way in which social movements in Spain, Catalonia, and the Basque country engage with national and regional politics. 
  • Critique the current theoretical and empirical implications of the rights to the city movement. 
  • Assess institutional policies being carried out in Spanish cities to address issues such as gentrification, migration, housing rights, climate change, and other issues affecting cities.  

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

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
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  • Rights to the city
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  • Multilevel governance
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  • Civil society and cities
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  • 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. 

Sustainable Urban Development and Right to the City Project

Sustainable Urban Development and Right to the City Project — syllabus
(URST 3500 / 3 credits)

The Sustainable Urban Development and Right to the City Project offers students the opportunity to carry out a short research project on a topic related to the different issues that they have been studying during the summer program. The outcome of this research project can be a short original academic article or a creative project piece. Either way it must comply with drawing from the course topic, the ethical standards stated in class, and the use of qualitative methods. Students select and analyze a relevant issue in consultation with the program academic director, giving students the opportunity to engage more thoroughly with some of the issues discussed during lectures and academic excursions. Students apply experience-based learning and interactive research skills to their chosen project with support and guidance from the program faculty. 



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.

Excursion & Orientation Accomodations

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 bio link
Victor Tricot, PhD

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 nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown