News and Events



Introduction: Ottavia Cima as Substitute for the Professorship of Heike Mayer

Following Heike Mayer’s appointment as Vice-Rector for Quality, Ottavia Cima has taken over part of the coordination of the Economic Geography Unit at GIUB, including teaching, supervision and the representation of the Unit in the Institute Council. Having previously worked at the University of Fribourg and the University of Luxembourg, Ottavia has been a postdoctoral researcher at GIUB since February 2022. Her research interests focus on just and sustainable development and span from agricultural change in Central Asia to urban manufacturing in Swiss cities.

Ottavia is member of the Community Economies Institute, the community of scholars and activists that has gathered around JK Gibson-Graham’s work on Diverse Economies. She has also recently joined the Editorial Board of Geographica Helvetica, the Swiss journal of geography.


Succesful IGU CDES Conference held in Bern

From September 13 to 15, 2023, we hosted the IGU CDES conference entitled “Rethinking the Economic Geography of Smaller Urban Places: Transformation and Well-Being in Small and Medium-Sized Towns”. 45 participants from 14 different countries in the Global North and South came to Bern to discuss their latest research. The conference took place in Bern and in Biel/Bienne, where we held sessions in the Volkshaus and undertook a field trip to places like Terrain Gurzelen and the Swiss Innovation Park. The Unit Economic Geography thanks our co-organizers from the Anton Melik Geographical Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Eva Kiss, IGU CDES president & economic geographer at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


Collective writing workshop in Czechia

Seven early career researchers and three professors met for four days (24-27 January 2023) in Polička, Czechia, to write a collective paper setting a research agenda for Diverse Economies in the East. The publication aims to redefine how social scientists think the (postsocialist) East on the one hand, and economic difference and possibilities on the other. The workshop, funded by the Promotion Fund of the University of Bern and coordinated by Ottavia Cima together with Lucie Sovová (Wageningen University), was also the occasion to experiment with collaborative methods of writing as a collective of authors.


Open Access Book published

Heike Mayer and Michela Lazzeroni published the book A Research Agenda for Small and Medium-Sized Towns. The contributing authors highlight new insights and approaches to studying small and medium-sized towns, moving beyond the ‘urban bias’ to provide nuanced thought on these spaces both in terms of their relation to larger cities, and in terms of implications related to their size. The book is open access and can be read here.


Creative Writing Workshops in Mendrisio

A series of creative writing workshops will take place in Mendrisio (Ticino) this autumn in the framework of the SNF Industrial Towns project. Ottavia Cima will animate four encounters at the cultural centre La Filanda where participants will experiment with writing techniques to stimulate their creativity. The industrial landscape of the town will constitute the background for the fictional narrations, as a way to transcend physical and mental structures in the imagination of possible futures of urban manufacturing.


Students present bachelor thesis in Thun

Sarah Blümli, Elin Egger, Alena Schmid and Ellen Wyss have been working on a study on economic development and the role of the resident economies in Thun for the past few months as part of their Bachelor's thesis. They presented their results to the Mayor of Thun, Raphael Lanz, at Thun City Hall. The work shows to what extent Thun can benefit from the development of an economy that satisfies local needs and binds purchasing power


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