Did you know that Zurich is considered one of the most sustainable in the world?

With a zealously protected cultural heritage, urban planning that integrates nature into the city fabric, and a city governance that values the just distribution of resources among its citizenry, Zurich serves as a laboratory for challenges and solutions to urban sustainability. Not incidentally it also regularly ranks among the world’s most livable cities.

The Sustainable Cities Program explores different facets of urban sustainability: heritage and culture, ideas and solutions for social justice, and urban nature. It is designed for ambitious mid-level Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors who are interested in a program that offers Zurich as a classroom and the opportunity for guided undergraduate research. Its modules draw from Art History, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies Sustainability Studies and Social Justice Studies. Students can also take immersive German courses tailored to their level of competency. 


Program Curriculum

The program includes small discussion and research seminars, city-wide field studies, and hands-on experiential learning opportunities in one of many organizations dedicated to sustainability. It offers three different modules: the Heritage City, the Ethical City, and the Green City.

A semester-long In-Sight research seminar accompanies all modules to help students integrate what they have learned outside the classroom into structured, well-researched projects that address individual interests, theoretical learning, and practical experience.

The program culminates in the Franklin Sustainable Cities Forum, a two-day student conference held at Franklin University Switzerland in Lugano. The forum gives students the opportunity to present their original research to an audience of peers and professors.



Structure and Modules
Program Structure
Core Modules (Total of 5 credits)
In-Sight: Directed Research Seminar 2 credits
On-Site: Sustainability in Practice 3 credits
Programs (Total of 9 credits)
Module I: The Heritage City 3 credits
Module II: The Ethical City 3 credits
Module III: The Green City 3 credits
Capstone (Total of 1 credit)
Sustainable Cites Forum at Franklin University Lugano 1 credit
Optional program components (Total of 1 to 4 credits)
You may choose to replace one of the three elective modules above with a language course:  
German, all levels (independent study)  3 credits
Possible publication of final research project in Franklin’s student journal 1 credit


Module I: The Heritage City

In Zurich, preservation of cultural and artistic heritage is of great significance. In this module, students will spend much of their time in the city visiting architectural sites, museums, archives, ateliers and organizations involved in preserving Zurich’s material culture. Topics in the classroom will include the physical conservation of historical architecture, archives, monuments, and places of collective memory, as well as of art collections and the study of their provenance.

Module II: The Ethical City

This module explores notions of the ethical city through theories of social and environmental justice, ethics, and urban development, offering solutions on how to tackle social problems such as marginalization, wealth inequality, and uneven access to opportunities for the less privileged. Zurich serves as an incubator for social, cultural, and political ideas that promote social participation, equitable distribution of material well-being, and livable space for all. 

Module III: The Green City

The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, which are often considered hubs of innovation and societal change. This module will discuss how cities attempt to become more sustainable and integrate more natural space into their fabric, addressing topics such as urban nature and biodiversity, low-energy cities, open green spaces, societal transformation and social movements. Zurich is used as a real-world example in comparison with other cities around the world: students visit diverse and innovative projects and meet and talk with experts, urban designers, decision-makers, and stakeholders.


Johanna Fassl

Art and Culture Division Co-Chair, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Communications, Franklin University Switzerland

Anne-Laure Franchette

Coordinator of the extra-curricular program

Gabriel Gee

Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Communications, Franklin University Switzerland

Christoph Kueffer

Professor of Urban Ecology, OST (Fachhochschule Ostschweiz Campus RJ), Affiliate Professor for Environmental Humanities, Franklin University Switzerland

Caroline Wiedmer

Art and Culture Division Co-Chair, Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Franklin University Switzerland

Tuition 12.500 CHF
Housing 5.000 CHF


  • Bring a buddy - 1.000 CHF off the program tuition for both parties
  • Stay on for another semester at Franklin University Switzerland in Lugano - 1.000 CHF off the Franklin University Switzerland tuition.



Students from FUS, please apply directly to Caroline Wiedmer.


Franklin University Switzerland
Caroline Wiedmer
Via Ponte Tresa 29
6924 Sorengo