Megaprojects & The Role of the Public: Germany’s Embattled ‘Stuttgart 21’ Rail Project

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Stuttgart 21 protests

In February 2010, Germany’s national railway broke ground on a multi-billion dollar railway redevelopment project in Stuttgart that had been under negotiation for more than 20 years. Yet within the year, the project would spark the largest citizen demonstrations Germany had seen since the reunification of the country.

Stuttgart 21 opponents were diverse, and so were their concerns, but nearly all were united by one overriding contention: that political leaders had conceived the plan without public input and had later refused to take citizen objections seriously. 

The case provides background and context for this controversy, then describes four kinds of public participation that took place in the course of developing the project, allowing students to identify and compare the salient features of each, then to assess their relative effectiveness at different stages of the process and from different points of view.