The Urban Design (UD) degree programme has been working on different types of urban research since 2008. »Tom Paints the Fence« is a presentation of UD’s urban narrative: the city is not a given entity but is something we produce. The project thus combines forms of knowledge that deal seriously with the notion that the collective work of urban creation is an act of common agreement. The questions arise on the part of the actors — just as in Mark Twain’s novel, the neighbourhood kids first make fun of Tom Sawyer for having to paint the fence as a punishment, only to succumb later to his bargaining skills and take the brush off him to do the painting themselves.»Tom Paints the Fence« refers to this process of social interaction. It incorporates a political understanding of the city that is always tied up with negotiation. This attitude to the city needs to be exercised and rehearsed. The »Universität der Nachbarschaften« (Neighbourhood University) project provides an exemplary space for this, and its work is examined here from the perspective of research, theory, and practice.