Alternative mobility: How to use a crisis as an opportunity for change


Main theme for altmob project

The COVID-19 pandemic has put societies to test and revealed fragilities in many different but interconnected systems. There is a growing mismatch between the complex nature of the challenges (e.g., health, environment, migration) that we face and the response that we can collectively mount.

While political and economic leaders are stressing the need for quick recovery, systemic crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic are opportunity for desirable change. These changes are not limited to health but extend to other sectors such as the economy, the environment, and the social.

The overall goal of this alternate students exchange programme is to reflect on the transformation of society at a time of crisis and explore the path for a potentially substantial change. The objectives are to:

  1. identify and analyse an important global challenge and
  2. design actionable solutions that will help build more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive societies.

Deadline: February 1st, 2021 (12 am (CET))


A few examples of relevant topics (just ideas)

  • Economic ‘green’ recovery and the role of finance
  • COVID-19 as a social virus and how to rebuild social connectivity
  • Vulnerabilities that exacerbate the risk of systemic crisis
  • Sustainability and resilience in the face of food system crises
  • Issues related to the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19
  • Community engagement as a source of resilience to disasters
  • Social responsibility of corporations and supply chains
  • The role of education in preparing the next generation for a turbulent world
  • The role of law, human rights, and the balance of power in time of crisis
  • Misinformation and information technologies and the erosion of trust
  • The role of international collaboration between cities to foster a transition towards greener transportation
  • A safety net for all citizens and the role of innovative revenue schemes
  •  …

For any project, it will be important to identify the scale of social organization (e.g., individual, families, communities, NGOs, political institutions, socio-economic organizations, global governance mechanisms), the level of governance (local, national, international) and the territory (city, regions, country, continental, global) to make the project manageable within the timeframe.

Approach and main steps for the development of the Altmob project

Collaborative approaches are essential to address collective challenges. One of the main pedagogical objectives of this alt-mob programme is to develop capacity and skills to work in a team. With the support of faculties from the Global Studies Institute, each team will:

  1. Define the topic and identify several main questions to be addressed
  2. Define the scope of the project (see comment above)
  3. Identify relevant disciplinary insights about the problem (i.e., how different disciplines see the problem) based on a review of the literature. This should cover the following aspects:
    • The magnitude of the problem
    • The drivers and causes of the problem
    • The impact of the problem on society or most affected groups
    • Examine potential solutions and associated enablers and obstacles
  4. Synthesize the findings of the review of the literature and identify or design a promising solution to the problem (or the main steps that would be required to address the problem). The solution should be as actionable as possible and can be technology, community or governance based.
  5. Develop a communication and advocacy strategy to attract attention to the proposal.

Outputs of the altmob project

To make project development more tangible, the following outputs are expected from each group:

  1. Produce a 180’ second videoclip about the project
  2. Establish partnerships with actors from International Geneva (business, NGO, International organizations, governments)
  3. Participate in two press conferences
  4. Establish a budget for the solution proposed
  5. Write a scientific report/academic article about your project or academic article (cf. steps above, Max. 5000 words)
  6. (Individually) evaluate the scientific report/academic article of another group (peer review)
  7. Present your project in partner Universities
  8. Write a  policy brief to present the project (Max 1000 words)
  9. Produce an op-ed or give an interview in a media of international relevance
  10. Participate in an international conference to present the project


Several workshops and tutorials will be provided to support the students throughout the semester.