Dealing with environmental and energy issues is more than simply finding problems and fixing them. Owing to the wide range of global dynamics of change, actors involved and scales of interventions, an increasingly complex system of scientific analysis, knowledge transfer towards policy formulation and governance frames global and local responses to emerging environmental and energy challenges. As any practitioner will tell you, scientific knowledge by its own does not circumvent the debate on global environmental and energy pressures as well as other global challenges. Besides, scientific facts and Institutions and politics do also matter deeply in dealing with these phenomena and their wide-ranging impacts.

This course provides an overview of how global change has brought a new light to the importance of transition models and how related policies can he optimized.  The students will learn how economic, political and socio- demographic dynamics across the world are framing political institutions capacity to address challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation and associated energy models across and within international boundaries. The course exposes the students to tools and procedures of systemic analysis and how to best apply these tools in strengthening our capacity to develop a new paradigm of environmental protection, energy conservation and sustainable development.



Prof. Martin Patel (Co-Director)


Dr. Martin K. Patel is full professor (professeur ordinaire) at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where he holds the Chair for Energy Efficiency since September 2013. He also has an adjunct professor position at Michigan State University (MSU), USA. Martin Patel’s research deals with energy savings and emission reduction in industry, the built environment and at the interface between energy supply and energy demand. This includes the environmental and the economic assessment of technologies, processes, products and services as well as the evaluation of policy programmes. Next to energy efficiency, bio-based products represent a particular focal area of his work. The research methods applied include techno-economic modelling (simulation), Life Cycle Assessment, economic assessment (micro & macro) and policy analysis.
Martin Patel studied chemical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany and graduated in 1992 (Dipl.-Ing.). From 1993 until mid 2000 he was researcher at the department “Energy Technology and Energy Policy” of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Between 1996 and 1999 he partly worked as visiting researcher at Utrecht University, Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS) and at the Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA) in Rome, Italy. In 1999, he earned his Ph.D. from Utrecht University, Netherlands, for his thesis titled “Closing Carbon Cycles – Carbon Use for Materials in the Context of Resource Efficiency and Climate Change”. Between mid 2000 and early 2001 he was with the Department of Energy and Environmental Policy Studies at ECOFYS, Utrecht. From 20011 until 2013, he co-ordinated a research cluster on advanced energy and materials systems at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University where he was assistant professor and later on associate professor.

Dr. Alexandre Hedjazi (Co-Director)


With a doctorate degree in Urban Planning from University of Grenoble, France and a PhD from School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Alexandre Hedjazi started his research career on the financing of urban infrastructure and public-private governance in 1996 at OECD. Dr.Hedjazi joined UCLA in 1998 to conduct research on regional development and lectured on regionalization and geopolitics of energy including at UCLA Global Studies programme.

He is member of faculty at the University of Geneva where, since 2007, he teaches courses on comparative politics, environmental governance and urban transitions. Further as the Scientific Deputy to Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development and International Relations and in the framework of UNIGE’s new strategy for Sustainable Development, Alexandre Hedjazi has planned, coordinated and contributed to university wide projects including the “Geneva Summit on Sustainable Finance” and the “7th ICLEI Conference on Sustainable Cities” as well as partnerships with UNIGE partners such as UNEP and the World Economic Forum.

Ms. Ashley Pilipiszyn (Teaching Associate)

IMG_3489-2 (1)

Ashley has been a part of this summer school for over the past two years, bringing her expertise in sustainability-oriented innovation, global cities, environmental governance and sustainable energy infrasystems in cities. Ashley is currently a PhD student at UNIGE, in collaboration with the MIT SENSable City Lab and MIT Climate CoLab to investigate energy innovation opportunities for healthy, climate-smart cities. In 2015, Ashley was selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper for her achievements, leadership potential, and commitment to make a difference in society.  In 2015 Ashley was also selected as a Spark Clean Energy Fellow with the U.S. Department of Energy and MIT, where she helped co-create an energy innovation resource book for the student energy community.

This year, Ashley was nominated as a MIT Climate CoLab Catalyst in the fields of Aviation and Smart Cities, where she mentored teams on their creative solutions to climate change in these domains. She is a recent graduate of the 2016 Hive Global Leaders Program with the Harvard Business School and Harvard Innovation Lab. Ashley holds a MA in International Relations & Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the University of Geneva and a BA in Human Biology & Neuroscience from Indiana University-Bloomington. Ashley is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and currently learning French.