Organization of American States Department of<br />Human Development
Urban Environmental Security



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This application must be completed on-line.

Professional Development Scholarship Program

”Urban Environmental Security”



1)  VENUE:  University for Peace.  Address:  De la Pulpería La Estrella del Sur 7.5 km Suroeste; El Rodeo. Colon, San José, Costa Rica.  Tel:  (506) 2205-9000.  Fax: (506) 2249-1929.  E-Mail:


2)  COORDINATOR OF THE COURSE:  Rolain Borel.  E-Mail:

     COURSE PROFESSOR: Mahmoud Hamid. E-Mail:


3) DATES                                       From March 16th, to March 27th, 2009


4) COURSE DURATION:                Ten (10) Days

5)  LANGUAGES:                             English

6)  MODALITY:                                 On site


  • Be familiar with the trends in urban development that can represent threats to urban population due to environmental risks
  • Be familiar with the typologies of environmental risk in urban contexts
  • Have acquired a detailed understanding of the different sources and forms of urban environmental risks and insecurity, i.e. water, land, air, food, health, climate, fire and other hazards.
  • Be aware of the needed commitment and conditions under which the environmental risks are mitigated in Sustainable Cities and communities that care about the environmental security.
  • Have analyzed and learned about the needs of response to the main urban environmental trends, in order to improve environmental security in urban environments 

8)      PROGRAM:

The course will address how the stark environmental insecurity necessitates creative thinking, the need for going beyond classic environmentalism in its understanding of sustainable cities. This will be particularly linked to processes of “de-nationalization”—the changing status of nation-states—as part of the globalizing world economy, which is very likely to affect the historical status of their national capitals and the relationship of these capitals to the domestic landscape. How this changing status in association with emerging identities, involving rural immigrants/displaced persons as well as from within the urban domain (urban poor), would help advance sustainability agenda in urban environment management? Associated with this, the course will also explore innovative municipal strategies to strengthen environmental security, including programmer aimed at greening transport, building employment skills and opportunities through environmental initiatives, achieving zero waste, minimizing environmental hazards and preserving biodiversity.

Concrete examples of cities will be used to emphasize the interdependence of urban systems and the value of inter-disciplinary and participatory approaches to urban planning and management.


Session 1: Introduction This first session will discuss the course scope, format, expectations and requirements. The session will give an overview of each of the following nine sessions and how they are related to each other and to the master program as a whole. During the session students will be divided into presenting and discussing pairs. The presenting pair will be responsible for delivering a comprehensive presentation on the readings assigned for the session of the day and to respond to questions raised by a discussing pair, who should raise questions relevant to the session’s readings. The presenting pair, additionally, should be able to prepare questions to help continue fruitful discussion until the end of the session. These (second round) questions should cover areas that the discussing pair did not cover. In addition to these, small groups will be formed. These groups discuss some themes in specific sessions or emerging issues and share, in a short presentation, the outcome of their discussions with the class at large. During the first session, these small groups will meet to discuss the syllabus and to propose, if they see necessary, some new themes or sub-themes of concern to be added to in-class discussions, therefore to be added to the course’ syllabus.   


Session 2: Urbanization, evolution of towns and factors shaping/reshaping the urban space. The aim of session 2 is to view urbanization and urban environmental security in a broader historical context, which should help identify the driving forces behind the emergence of early towns and to see whether they have established for an environmentally secure urban forms. The goal is to garner necessary knowledge about historical urban forms that might help figure out new avenues for achieving environmental security in the unsustainable cities of today. The session will discuss whether the city which originally symbolized a “political space” for gaining/conceptualizing freedom—“city air makes free”—did maintain as a space of freedom, progress and ingenuity or is becoming a “cell”, a larger prison of alienated people who are increasingly losing the qualities of the earlier townsmen and whether this provide a good recipe for urban environmental security and sustainability. Three perspectives about how current urban neighborhoods are theoretically perceived will be discussed during this session.


Session 3 – Urban Environmental Trends and Urban Environmental Security/Insecurity. This session will discuss the main themes that will be elaborated on in the remaining sessions of the course. It will address the major urbanization trends and the ecological and human threats that they represent. The session will discuss how urban settlements with different sizes, economic status, and location might have different impacts on the ecosystem services in their surroundings. It will identify the major processes driving change within and in the surroundings of these different settlements. Urban systems will be discussed as habitats for humans, as systems affecting their surroundings, and as cause of global ecosystem pressures.


Session 4: (Mainstream) Institutional Responses to Urban Environmental Insecurity. The session will continue the discussion on urban trends; however, by focusing on the regional urbanization trends. The session will then discusses the challenges of the inadequate provision of urban services and increased inequalities in urban areas. The problems associated with water supply and sanitation, transportation, housing, consumption, waste disposal, and energy will be addressed and institutional responses to them will be discussed. The session emphasizes the importance of addressing water and management needs in different size settlements and the necessity of local action for achieving local goals. The session explores avenues for sustainable, equitable mutual integration of rural and urban communities. The session also addresses congestion and transport-related air pollution, problems posed by floods, fire, and hurricanes. A case of Peri-Urban Agro-forestry will be discussed.


Session 5 – The Planned City as Gray City: the Modernist Antisocial City planning and Normalizing Environmental Insecurity, This session will continue the discussion which we started in Session 2. It will address the evolution of urban settlements from celebrated “libertarian towns” into gray cities, separated from the aesthetic and ecological experience of nature and causing their residents to spend exhaustive hours to reach their place of work and pay for their cars. It will focus on the “modernist” city as entity, which due to the very nature of its planning symbolizes the environmentally insecure gray city. Thus, in this session, the taken for granted planning of modern cities will critically be questioned. The vision of a very well-celebrated modernist architect – Charles Le Corbusier, a Swiss born, ended French citizen—will be discussed as part of a global modernist way of imagining a city. It will particularly be discussed in connection to how this imagination has translated into the construction of gray cities inhabited by alienated people and are inherently environmentally insecure. The case of Ciudad Guayana/Venezuela will be examined as planned city; however, which involved different actors into reshaping and redefining its course of development.


Session 6 –Going Beyond Classical Environmentalism: Green Cities and the Alternative Urban Planning. Critically moving out of the depressing gray urban setting, this session promises an alternative urban dwelling-- green cities that the livable, resilient and environmentally secure cities. The session emphasizes this alternative thinking through the concepts of “green city”, “eco-city”, and the broader vision of “new urbanism”. 


Session 7– Is “New Urbanism” Possible? Global Disparities Challenges to Urban Environmental Security This session continues the discussion on the possible “eco-city”; however, by stepping back and questioning the optimism dominating the “new urbanism” thinking. Will the “new urbanist” vision work as applicable every where or is feasible only in advanced polities? Does this very thinking of “new urbanism” generate a new global divide of green (industrial world) cities and gray (developing countries) cities? The session will discuss “discursive democracy” as climate and instrument for envisioning and implementing the “eco-city”. It will discuss the possibility of “reconciling” the city and its surrounding rural areas. A case of urban forestry strategy will be discussed in this session.


Session 8 – Governance and participatory urban management. Session 8 addresses the issues of governance and the increased role for civil society organizations with their quest for democratic and participatory urban management. The concern in this session is to figure out how the civil society forces may help translate into action the “idealized” concept of an eco-city. Precisely, the session will address this as part of the wider context of the nationally and globally changing status of cities in association with emerging identities, involving rural immigrants/displaced persons as well as urban poor in order to see how these would help advance sustainability agenda in urban environment management. A case of “marginalized” actors—children and young people--will be discussed here to show that the globalizing world is inviting new actors with new approaches and perspectives who could be crucial for achieving the “eco-city”.


Session 9 and 10: Four Cases of Cities and four cases of Local Governments Striving to Achieve Sustainability. In these two sessions we will discuss how things on the ground work realistically in different countries. Discussion should benefit from the concepts we are now familiar with and seek to figure whether the theoretical ideas discussed in previous sessions are applicable under different conditions.

All applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of an OAS Member state, except Costa Rica that is the seminar host country (residents must send copy of visa). 
Have good command of English, with documentary evidence if neither is not the native language.  
Profile:  Bachelor Degree on Environmental Sciences and Social Sciences with 2 years of experience in the field of study
Certified copy of relevant academic degree(s)/courses.
Be physically fit to fulfill the obligations of the course; and able to attend the entire course.
Submit a duly completed request before the deadline established by the National Liaison Organization (ONE)[1]. The candidate is responsible for finding out the deadline set by the ONE in his/her country of residence


  • Each student should plan to be responsible for approximately US$115.00 to US$200.00 per week to cover for a room in a selected family house, including breakfast and dinner
  • Each student should plan to be responsible for US$50.00 to US$60.00 per week to cover for lunch during the week and for food expenses during weekends.
  • Must have health and accident insurance coverage abroad.  
  • The selected candidates must confirm their acceptance to the OAS General Secretariat Office in their respective countries and through the ONE in order for the OAS to proceed with making the necessary travel arrangements to purchase the air travel tickets, economy class, round-trip, between their country of origin or residence and the study location or, if the scholarship is refused, to appoint another candidate.
  • The selected candidates must confirm their acceptance of the scholarship by signing and returning to DHD their completed “form of acceptance of the scholarship award”; only after this has been done will the OAS proceed with the necessary travel arrangements to purchase the air travel tickets, economy class, round-trip, between the scholarship recipient’s country of origin and the study location.
  • Upon selection, candidates must accept the scholarship by confirming   their availability to follow the course during the period indicated and their acceptance of the duly provided conditions of study. 
  • Selected scholarship recipients are responsible for obtaining the necessary visa(s) to enter the country of study and the corresponding transit(s). The OAS will not be responsible for any costs related to obtaining visas or transfer documentation.
  • Each scholarship recipient is responsible for arriving in time for the commencement of activities on the date established by the institution offering the course or program.  
  • If the scholarship recipient fails to travel on the scheduled dates, or change routes, after the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS) has purchased his/her travel ticket, he/she will be responsible for paying the difference in ticket costs in order to arrive at the course site in time. The scholarship recipient will furthermore have to reimburse the GS/OAS the total cost of the airfare for his/her travel from his/her country of residence to the site where the Professional Development Course will take place and back if, after the ticket has been purchased, he/she declines the scholarship without written authorization from the Department of Human Development.
  • The latter includes any additional costs, if any, incurred by the GS/OAS, such as extra costs for accommodation during the scholarship recipient’s travel to and from the country where the course will be held.

10)    OAS Scholarship Selection Criteria:  In accordance with article 4.2 of the Manual of Procedures of the Scholarship and Training Programs of the OAS, OAS scholarships shall be granted based on the following criteria:
*  the objectives and priorities established in the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development;
*  the training priorities of the member states;
*  the merits and overall credentials of the candidate, including his/her academic and professional background;
*  the financial need of the candidate; and
*  An extensive and equitable geographic distribution for the benefit of all member states and that takes into account the   greater needs of the smaller and relatively less developed economies.


·         The OAS Department of Human Development will cover economy roundtrip ticket between the country of origin and the host country2

·         The University of Peace will provide:

1.      Instructors and technical and operational support staff for the course; and will also help with facilities, materials and promotional and organizational aspects of the course. 

2.       Will help the selected candidates to find room and board in selected family houses in Ciudad Colon (close To University of Peace).

3.      Other expenses concerning training registration and tuition

4.      Medical treatment in case of minor illness. 



Please Notice:  If you were awarded an OAS Professional Development Scholarship in the past twelve (12) months or if you currently hold an OAS Scholarship for Academic Studies, you are not eligible to apply for another Professional Development Scholarship.


The online application form must be completed on-line and can be accessed at:  here you’ll find the announcements of all the onsite courses, click in the one you are interested in, go though the end of the page, and then you’ll find the Continue button which will direct you to the online application form.

Once the applicant has completed the online application form and submitted it, a copy will be sent automatically to his/her e-mail account. This completed form must be printed, signed and submitted to the National Liaison Office (ONE) with all other forms ( that must be completed electronically or in typewritten format.


The following is the list of National Liaison Organizations (ONEs) in the OAS Member states:


Any questions regarding submission of applications for this course should be sent to:








LZea-Yonker/Urban Environmental Security/Costa Rica/2009

[1] The deadline for presentation of applications to the (ONE) differs from country to country and should therefore be confirmed with the relevant ONE in the applicant's country of origin or permanent residence.


2 Funds for terminal and in-transit expenses are NOT provided

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