Transformative cities: learning from real utopias

Transformative cities: learning from real utopias

The Universidad Abierta de Recoleta together with the Transnational Institute (TNI), present the second course of the International Diploma on Transformative Local Governments

The notion of local government on which this course is based implies the participation of all the different actors and sectors of society. It is assumed that for the local government to function, and to meet its public objectives of social welfare and good living, there needs to be informed citizen participation, so this course is aimed at providing useful and relevant information for citizen empowerment, and the design of local public policies oriented to the common good.

Through an analysis and dialogue with the finalist initiatives of the Transformative Cities award (Cloughjordan, Barcelona, ​​Cochabamba, Medellín, Paris, Richmond, Cádiz), the aim is to recognise lessons and learn from both successful strategies and obstacles that have experienced in trying to achieve their goals.

What you will learn

You will identify, based on concrete experiences, the obstacles and challenges that arise in the transformation of the local context itself.


Aimed at public servants, representatives and members of political parties, unions, civil society organisations, and the general public. 15 years old minimum, internet connection and any smart electronic device.

Agent of Change

The Digital Courses (CD) of the Universidad Abierta de Recoleta emphasise the construction of knowledge in order to generate a social transformation. To achieve this, it promotes as a methodological resource the putting into action of the participants within their communities.

Certification and gratuity

The course will be certified by all parties involved in the development of this course, as long as the approval requirements are met.
There is no cost of any kind for the participants.

Teachers and experts

Peadar Kirby

Emeritus Professor of International Politics and Public Policy at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and Visiting Professor at the University of Valencia, Spain. He has lived at Cloughjordan Ecovillage since 2009, where he served on the board of directors from 2015 to 2019 and is currently the education program coordinator. His latest books are “Karl Polanyi and the Contemporary Global Crisis: Transforming Market Society in the Era of Climate Change”, Foreword by President Michael D. Higgins (Bloomsbury, 2021) and, co-authored with Tadhg O’Mahony, “The Political Economy of the Low-Carbon Transition: Pathways Beyond Techno-Optimism” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

Vanesa Valiño

Degree in Political Sciences and Administration. Master in Gender Policies. Since 2015, she has worked as chief of staff of the Department of Housing of the Barcelona City Council. Previously she was Director of the DESC Human Rights Observatory, a non-governmental entity. In recent years, she has devoted special efforts to research and action on the right to housing, both from activism and from the city government.

Marcela Olivera

Water organiser based in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since 2004, she has helped develop and consolidate an inter-American water justice network called REDVIDA. She is also a member of the Platform for Public Community Agreements of the Americas (PAPC), an organisation that promotes exchanges between water systems based on solidarity and horizontal cooperation. Since 2019, she has been working on the Blue Planet Project.

Claudia Montoya Ruiz

Agronomist from the National University of Colombia and Master in Strategies for Regional Agricultural Development. Coordinator of the Food Sovereignty and Solidarity Economy Program at the Penca de Sábila Ecological and Cultural Corporation, a non-profit environmentalist and feminist entity dedicated to education and the promotion of alternative forms of environmental management. She has been a professional in projects in agroecology and peasant organisation, and has been part of projects and research on agricultural issues such as agroecological production, peasant farms and sustainability of agrosystems, use of pesticides, environmental restoration and recovery of watersheds, among others.

Benjamín Gestín

Member of the civil service of France and works as General Manager at Eau de Paris, the public water service of the city of Paris. Throughout his career he has held positions at the French Ministry of Culture, at the French Embassy in India and has worked at the National Monuments Centre.

Andrés Soto

Member of the Richmond Organiser with Communities for a Better Environment, a California environmental justice organisation. He has dedicated a significant portion of his adult life to fighting for various injustices in US society, which led him to found the Richmond Progressive Alliance in 2003. Since the Chevron blowup in 2012, he has helped start and participate in major environment justice coalitions in the Bay Area. He has been present in many public hearings articulating positions of and in favour of the communities that are in the front line, being an important voice for change.

Alba del Campo

The last 10 years of her professional career have been dedicated to a change in the energy model that promotes a fair energy transition that puts people at the center and faces the enormous challenges of the eco-social crisis we are experiencing. She has made two documentaries on the energy problem and alternatives and worked for six and a half years for the local government of the city of Cádiz (Spain). During this time, she has carried out tasks of design, implementation and coordination of different lines of work related to energy (efficiency, savings, renewables and energy poverty), as well as communication and training.



Erick Palomares Rodríguez

Associate Researcher of the Transnational Institute (TNI) for the Transformative Cities award and the Atlas of Utopias. He is the academic coordinator of the International Diploma in Transforming Local Governments UAR-TNI. He is a Doctor in Government and Public Administration, from the Complutense University of Madrid, and has a Master’s degree in Development, Innovation and Change, from the University of Bologna, in Italy. He is currently a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of Copenhagen.

Specific learning outcomes

Week 1
You will know the initiatives of the Transformative Cities Award and its importance in the changes proposed from the local.
Week 2
You will learn from the experience of Cloughjordan (Ireland) and Barcelona (Spain) on the protection of the right to housing from the local level.
Week 3
You will learn from the experience of Cochabamba (Bolivia), Medellín (Colombia) and Paris (France) on the protection of the right to water and food from the local level.
Week 4
You will learn from the experience of Richmond (United States) and Cádiz (Spain) on the protection of the right to energy from the local level.
Week 5
You will complete the academic (recap and final project) and administrative processes of the course (certification).
Application start date
Tuesday 31st May
Registration deadline
Wednesday, September 21th until 11:59 p.m. (Chile time)
Minimum quota
100 participants
Course start date
Thursday, September 8th at 5:00 p.m. (Chile time)
Course duration
5 weeks
Estimated dedication time per week
6 hours
Day and time of the synchronous session
Tuesday, August 2th at 4:00 p.m. (Chile time)
UAR Digital