Sweden–Kenya Interactive Learning Labs

SKILLs is a collaboration programme between two of Mistra Urban Futures’ platforms in Gothenburg, Sweden and Kisumu, Kenya aiming toward sustainable urban development. SKILLs is an overarching structure for facilitation of several projects and activities, including research, subjects, stakeholders and collaborations between the two cities. The current phase of SKILLs (2018–2019) is a consolidation and wrap-up phase with focus on scientific outputs, assembling experiences, accumulating learnt skills and ideas and extracting knowledge from projects and activities that have been going on to date. 

SKILLs began in September 2012 with the parallel introduction of new PhD students within the themes Market places and Ecotourism, at JOOUST University, Maseno University and Gothenburg University. A core team within each theme was formed (three Swedish and four Kenyan PhD students). The aim was to create an environment of collaboration and exchange between the students as well as teachers, supervisors and between the universities. Since the inception of this collaboration, many of the PhD students have completed their dissertations. Today, SKILLs is slowly being transformed into not only an exchange within the PhDs but also research projects between the two platforms.

Based on previous objectives and with the character of a wrap-up phase in mind, the objectives of SKILLs during 2018–2019 are to:

-    Strengthen the existing cross-national, continuous collaboration and exchange within cross/transdisciplinary research, co-production of knowledge and learning in the making between Gothenburg and Kisumu, sometimes working with their respective regional and national networks.
-    Support formulation and dissemination of knowledge, experiences, results and lessons learned based on previous projects and activities within the collaboration, 
-    Explore opportunities for continued facilitation of international exchange of post-graduate students/faculty, private sector and practitioners between the two platforms in furtherance of sustainable urban development.

Planned activities within SKILLs fall into four principal tracks:

A.    Extracting and disseminating knowledge from the activities that have been carried out until now. The output involves mainly scientific articles but also policy briefs, reports, conference presentations, interventions, product prototypes and development, and the like. 

B.    Assessing ongoing substantial research projects and activities that are possible to build on further. Could produce both academic and practical outputs and outcomes. 

C.    Investigating possibilities to link ongoing practical activities to SKILLs, e.g. Urban Rural Gothenburg and Eco-tourism, handicrafts and technology development at Dunga Beach (Kisumu). The outcomes are mainly practical, but educational connections might also be possible by linking research to the educational ladder (e.g. to Reality Studio at Chalmers)

D.    Arranging seminars in Kisumu for postgraduate students at the local LIP to support research methodology.  

SKILLs is run by a Steering Committee, composed of The Centre Director, The Kisumu Platform Director, The Gothenburg Director and The Deputy Scientific Director, who in collaboration with the coordinator and the advisor take part in strategic discussions and take strategic decisions concerning SKILLs.

Photo: Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash


Onyango, G. M. (2018). Urban public transport in informal settlements: Experiences from Kisumu City, Kenya. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-Economic Series, 40(40), 145–156. doi:10.2478/bog-2018-0020
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Kraff, H. (2018). Exploring pitfalls of participation and ways towards just practices through a participatory design process in Kisumu, Kenya. Thesis, University of Gothenburg
Type: Academic thesis
Jernsand, E-M., Inclusive place branding – What it is and how to progress towards it, PhD thesis, University of Gothenburg, School of Business, Economics and Law, 2016
Type: Academic thesis
Hansson, H., Mwango, F., Otieno, J. & Nyström, M. (2014). A transdiciplinary research approach: challenges and benefits of co-production. Conference paper presented at the Cumulus Johannesburg Conference: Design with the Other 90%: Changing the World by Design, Greenside Design Center (GDC) and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA). Johannesburg, South Africa, 22-24 September 2014.
Type: Conference paper (peer-reviewed)
Jernsand, E. M., & Kraff, H. (2015). Participatory place branding through design: The case of Dunga beach in Kisumu, Kenya. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 11(3), 226–242. doi:10.1057/pb.2014.34
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)

Project members

  • Mirek Dymitrow

    Mirek Dymitrow works as Research Coordinator for Research Forum Urban Rural Gothenburg and for the SKILLs collaboration.

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  • Maria Nyström

    Professor Maria Nyström, HDK - Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg

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