Risk track

Cities and regions are particularly vulnerable to risks due to the structure and density of their populations, the infrastructure they depend on and the flows of people and goods that pass through them. Yet they also have a key role to play in reducing the occurrence or scope of these risks.

The Risk track offers specific training on the territorial dimension of risks. Launched in 2014, this track differs from other programmes in its combined focus on cities and regions, public policy and politics.


Growing concern about risks and disasters at the urban and regional levels creates a need for risk management training that goes beyond technical solutions to encompass the economic, social and political dynamics of cities and regions. Risks can be natural, such as earthquakes, storms and landslides; man-made, including terrorism, pollution, industrial accidents and urban violence; or “mixed”, such as pandemics, floods or the effects of climate change.

Programme format

The track is fully integrated into the Master of Regional and Urban Strategy, while including specific courses on risk. Its objective is to equip students with the necessary concepts and instruments for identifying, measuring, representing, evaluating and managing urban and regional risks. To do so, the track draws on the social sciences, given that the risks and disasters that threaten cities and regions are intertwined with the economic and social dynamics that shape them. Only by taking stock of these dynamics, their underlying forces and the role of stakeholder organisations can risk governance become a tool of urban and regional transformation.

In addition to a strong link with research, students receive substantial professional training through:

  1. group projects on risk-related topics;
  2. courses and workshops delivered by senior practitioners;
  3. site visits (visit to Paprec and the Port of Gennevilliers)
  4. a six-month internship or a one-year dual education apprenticeship contract
    Since 2015, organisations taking Risk students on as interns or apprentices have included Veolia, Suez, RTE, the European Center for Flood Risk Prevention, French National Association of Local Authorities for the Management of Major Technological Risks, Coordination Toxicomanie and the Préfecture de Police de Paris.

The Urban School frequently holds events on risk-related topics (Axe Seine, November 2016).

Students wishing to acquire research training in parallel to the Risk track may also apply to the Research track (sociology or political science).

To apply for the risk track, students simply need to write us a letter of intent.

Career opportunities

As well as local and national authorities and international organisations, a large number of public, private and non-governmental organisations are involved in urban and regional risk management. There are also an increasing number of companies directly involved in the planning, construction, production and operation of zones, buildings, facilities, infrastructure and networks. These companies have to integrate risk considerations into their choice of site, its form and content, and project management practices. The result is a growing demand for professionals trained in risk and disaster issues at the urban and regional level.


Olivier Borraz, Academic Coordinator, Risk track:

“Governing a city or region demands the capacity to manage a whole series of risks, most of which are not external to the territory but part and parcel of its physical and virtual infrastructures, of its economic and social fabric. Cities and regions are producers of risks. Making the risks visible requires knowledge and expertise. As such, the identification and representation of risks are political acts, which makes it crucial to have professionals with a comprehensive view of risks.”

Margaux Knispel, 2016 STU - Risk track graduate:

“Given my belief that the environment and the consequences of last century’s industrialisation will be central to the public policy of the future, I saw the possibility of approaching regions through natural and technological risks as the best way to meet the expectations of my future employers. Thanks to the quality of the courses related to this option, I became aware of my personal interest in these topics, which was fuelled by decisive meetings with people through the risk track.”

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