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Workshop Report

SWEDEN: Using Pyramid to Study Interdisciplinary Methods and “Citylands”

Faciliated by Alan AtKisson – 20 March 2012
Organizer: Per Berg & Manolya Akin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala

Urban sustainability pioneer Per Berg, originator of the “Citylands” concept of regional planning and integration, teaches a course on Interdisciplinary Methods, and this course was a perfect fit for the first Swedish contribution to the Pyramid 2012 campaign.

About 40 students from 20 countries are taking the course as part of their Master’s Degree studies, and their motivations to participate range from “frustration” at the pace of change in social conditions in Kenya, to “curiosity” about how to understand complex systems. The students work in teams to study eight different “Citylands” — that is, metropolitan areas and their surrounding rural zones — around the world, and the Pyramid process helped them quickly develop a more systemic sense of what they were learning.

This was one of the fastest Pyramids Alan had facilitated:  students glued sticks into triangle shapes during the morning lecture on global sustainability trends, produced trends for each of their cities over lunch, and then rapidly developed systems maps showing leverage points for their Cityland systems in the afternoon. They generated ideas for advancing sustainability, voted on the best one … and the winner was, “Urban De-Growth.”

In some of the cities they are studying, such as Chicago, whole sections of the city housing stock is emptying out. What to do? The winning student proposed embracing the trend and demolishing the unnecessary (and outmoded) housing, returning it to green space, agriculture, or other uses.

The physical Pyramid did not quite get fully built during this rapid, 3-hour, lecture+workshop. But Alan awarded the Pyramid kit to the winning student, and suggested that the class find a suitable way to top off the Pyramid at a later date. But for the purposes of Pyramid 2012, and generating ideas to forward to the Rio+20 summit … Pyramid accomplished in Uppsala, Sweden!


About Alan AtKisson

Author, songwriter, keynote speaker, and expert consultant in the field of sustainability. Founder and president of the AtKisson Group:



  1. Pingback: SWEDEN: Using Pyramid to Study Interdisciplinary Methods and … | - 22 March 2012

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