The research programme was concerned to study urban change and ways in which the city itself can shape and influence the process of change. The aim was to yield information on changes in urban development that have to do with internationalisation, urban policy, administrative and economic issues as well as with regional development and the environment. Drawing on these analyses the programme aimed to forecast future urban trends and to develop better tools for urban planning.
The programme was set up in response to the growing research needs created by globalisation and urbanisation. Cities are vital to the increasingly global economy, and they tend to form international networks. The successful integration of Finnish cities with the European city network calls for multidisciplinary urban studies as well as a well-founded and conscious urban policy.
The main research themes included the internationalisation of the city and the urban system; the regionality of cities and their interaction with the environment; the new use of urban space, where the focus was on cultural and environmental factors; the threats and opportunities of urban life, which were approached from a social point of view; cities as innovative environments; and the new urban economy and the political steering of urban development.
The programme's projects represented a number of different disciplines: architecture and technical sciences, regional studies and social sciences, the humanities as well as environmental science.
The programme comprised 15 research projects, with a total of some 50 researchers involved in the following organisations: the universities of Helsinki, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Tampere and Turku, Helsinki University of Technology, Tampere University of Technology and the Government Institute for Economic Research VATT.
The programme had a budget of EUR 3 million, of which the Academy of Finland accounted for EUR 1.5 million. Funding was also provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
The research programme was coordinated by coordinator Harri Andersson, University of Turku, Department of Geograph