Nürtingen Community Innovation Lab

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How the Nürtingen Community Innovation Lab Started

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The CLLC activities in Nürtingen started with an ideas workshop on October 16, 2018. The meeting brought the project team together with citizens who are already involved in various local initiatives. The workshop resulted in the identification of five relevant development themes for the local community:

  • Preservation of the rich orchard heritage
  • Sustainable mobility
  • Community and social cohesion
  • Renewable energy
  • An "alternative" start-up center

The workshop was very helpful for linking the CLLC group to the local community and for developing a better understanding of the actual needs and challenges.

>>> Read the full protocol (in German)

Linking Learning Activities and Community Topics

During the first pilot implementation of the CLLC course in spring 2019, teachers and students from Nürtingen-Geislingen University focused on the following four projects:

Reactivating the Inner City of Nürtingen

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This project addressed the challenge of decreasing retail diversity in the historical inner city of Nürtingen. This process results in shrinking attractiveness and visitor frequency, which again has negative impacts on the city’s overall image and the confidence of its citizens. We approached this topic from an interdisciplinary perspective by bringing staff and students from business administration and city planning together. The community interaction started with a briefing workshop prior to the start of the course on January 29 and was followed by an interactive workshop on April 4 that included students and local stakeholders. The city planning students further organized an event day on June 28, during which they tested various ideas for reviving the city center by means of temporary installations. The process concluded with a final presentation on July 2.

The social innovation ideas of the students evolved around the following topics and themes:

  • Integration of student housing into the city center
  • Activation of local entrepreneurs with a migration background
  • Sustainable mobility
  • Improving the usability and connectivity of the city and the river (Neckar)

The cooperation with the city of Nürtingen and various local stakeholders representing the interests of retail, city marketing or general public interests has been well received by everyone involved. Follow-up activities are currently under development.


CLLC Contact at Nürtingen-Geislingen University: Prof. Dr. Dirk Funck

Working Toward a Regional Garden Festival for Nürtingen

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In 2009, the city of Nürtingen applied to host a garden show, and the application was, unfortunately, rejected. In 2018, the city administration revitalized the idea by initiating another application process. Nürtingen plans to submit this application at the end of 2019 for a garden show to happen in 2031. For the citizens of Nürtingen, the process started on November 8, 2018 with an ideas workshop. A student group from the international landscape architecture programme worked over the summer term on a concept for the Nürtingen garden show, derived from the cities’ broader landscape potential and guided by responses to the grand sustainability challenges.

Multiple students also participated in the social entrepreneurship course and engaged with the local community of Klein-Tischardt. This neighbourhood is currently benefiting from an integrated development project (Quartiersentwicklung 2020), which aims to increase local community cohesion. Klein-Tischardt could greatly benefit from the garden show because of its proximity to both the city centre and the river (Neckar). It, however, lacks the effective community management necessary to join the various social groups living in this quarter. The CLLC group plans to continue working on these neighbourhood topics in the upcoming semesters.


CLLC Contact at Nürtingen-Geislingen University: Dr. Ellen Fetzer

Embrace a Friend – A tandem project

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Within the past several years, more and more international people have moved to Nürtingen. No matter if they are refugees, immigrants, exchange students or foreign degree-seeking students, everyone is interested in making friends. Connecting to local people, however, is not an easy task. Intercultural encounters are not what the residents of Nürtingen and Geislingen naturally seek out, even if they are open minded. Therefore, the vision of the tandem project is to develop a platform, where people from different origins and same interests can meet, get connected and start friendships.

The starting point of the project was a kick-off workshop in May 2019 during which individuals shared their needs and wishes for the tandem project. Representatives from two important NGOs in the field of integration (Bruderhausdiakonie und Integrationsbüro Nürtingen), young refugees, university staff and young immigrants came together.

The Mission of the tandem Project Embrace a Friend in Nürtingen/ Geißlingen is to:

  • create a platform (online & offline) to promote a closer encounter between incoming foreign individuals and locals
  • get a better understanding of other countries and their people
  • discover the fascinating cultures of other countries
  • foster the integration of immigrated inhabitants in Nürtingen and Geißlingen

The stakeholders' expectations about what joint tandem activities could potentially look like resulted in a long list of ideas, such as: Excursions to castles around Nürtingen, going to the cinema, playing music, hiking tours, playing soccer, playing games, cooking intercultural dishes.....

For the first activity in June 2019, there was a soccer tournament and barbecue. About 50 attendees from more than 10 nations including Syria, Afghanistan, Germany, India and Kenya attended.

How did the community benefit from the tandem project?

  • Development of a network for international and local people who are interested in getting to know the tandem project and integrating their personal ideas
  • Implementation of an intercultural event with sport and barbecue in a festive atmosphere
  • First social contacts were established to grow the tandem network

The next steps will include:

  • Setting up an online platform to organize the Tandem activities-- This will be incredibly important in the future
  • Planning further events in the upcoming semester to further grow the network


CLLC Contact at Nürtingen-Geislingen University: Dr. Ellen Fetzer

StattZeitung – Nürtingens alternative newspaper

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Nürtingen’s alternative newspaper has run on an NGO-basis since 1980. It appeared with a printed edition until 1993 and reappeared digitally in 2004. StattZeitung is an important local voice with regard to sustainability ideas at municipality level. However, sustaining the activities on a non-profit basis is very challenging for the small team.

Prof. Dr. Friedemann Baisch from Nürtingen-Geislingen University got in touch with the StattZeitung team and involved them in the activities of the Community Innovation Lab. The ultimate goal was to explore opportunities of how students could become more engaged in the newspaper. Critical reflection and writing for a general audience are very important competences of which students could benefit a lot, and the newspaper itself could also benefit from this.

Various student groups explored the organization of the magazine over the 2019 summer term, focusing on relevant issues such as marketing, financing, cooperation and new technical opportunities for the newspaper website. The work on these ideas will continue with the next winter term.

Are you interested in journalistic work? The StattZeitung team is always open for new people. The editorial team meets weekly on Mondays starting at 20 pm. Location: Alte Seegrasspinnerei, Plochinger Straße 14, Nürtingen, Contakt: info@nuertinger-stattzeitung.de


CLLC Contact at Nürtingen-Geislingen University: Prof. Dr. Friedemann Baisch