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Placemaking: Sense, Space & Strategy

This three-week programme will explore the web of relationships between people and place. This innovative and interdisciplinary course borrows from human geography, experimental- and environmental-psychology, history, and sociology to ask important questions about the urban environments in which we live. It also addresses the right to the city, and views urban environments as contested places of interaction and change.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-site (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 11 July - Thursday 29 July 2021*
    Housing dates: Saturday 10  July - Saturday 31 July 2021*
    Academic fees: €1650* read more about what is included.
    Housing fees: €650* and a €75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admission deadline: 1 February 2021
    Regular admission deadline: 1 April 2021
    Who is this programme for? Students should be in good academic standing to participate in the summer school. For current university students (Bachelors and Masters) in the arts and social sciences with an interest in in urban studies. For working professionals with a desire to continue their education in this field.
  • Programme description

    This three-week interdisciplinary course unravels the practice, theory, policies and politics of placemaking, taking Amsterdam as a site for analysis and action. Placemaking is more than a method; it is a philosophy for the development and experience of cities, combining disciplines such as sociology, environmental psychology, (micro)political science, architecture and urban design. Situating placemaking in a mixed academic context, this course focuses on topics such as public space, community, diversity and 'the right to the city'.

    We extend our methods of learning beyond the classroom and take to the outdoors daily, examining everything from street art tours to community gardens, and from sound walks to smell walks. Experiencing the city through the many different sensory lenses is at the heart of this programme, and presents exciting alternative ways to understand how people live in, respond to, and imagine their cities. As cities are densely populated, and as their diversity increases, sensitivity to stimuli (both positive and negative) is increasing too. This holds true for all sensory experiences like increased noise, overwhelming smells, and the experience of intense density, as urban spaces are co-created as territories of negotiation.

    Through a series of diverse morning lectures, participants will explore the theoretical implications of sensescapes: that urban space is perceived on the basis of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), context, and memories, and that urban sensescapes might be contested, if threatened. In these lectures, we’ll delve into the effects that our sensory understanding of the city has on urban design, smart/techno cities, and circular cities. In the afternoon, we will use Amsterdam as our living laboratory and learn-by-doing, participating in urban gardening workshops, plastic fishing in the canals, sound- and smell-walks through diverse neighbourhoods, and engaging with the smart city with different community and business initiatives.

    Despite being one of the most planned cities in the world, Amsterdam is constantly growing and changing, reinterpreting its sensescapes, and thereby, people’s relationships to the city. This is because urban environments are subject to change: this holds true not only for new neighbourhoods or cities, but also for environments that are familiar to us. Is our home and our sense of belonging also at stake when urban environments change? We will research what effects globalization has on our cities, focusing on increased tourism and density, and the creative resistances and responses that residents and newcomers alike propose and put into action.

  • Academic directors

    Dr. Thea Dukes is an urban/political geographer and a psychologist. She teaches various courses in the Interdisciplinary Social Science programme (ISW), with a strong focus on urban issues (such as Contemporary debates, Perspectives on Amsterdam and Age, City & Work). Thea is the Academic Director of Urban Studies: Sense, Space & Strategy, a course that has been developed at the interface of human geography and environmental/ experimental psychology. Her main research interests relate to the urban as a political area, combining insights from various disciplines like Human Geography, Sociology and Psychology. Topics relate to, for example, area-based urban policy, urban governance, sense of belonging, the multisensory city and the contestation of space.  

    Dr. Iris van Huis is a new face to the University of Amsterdam, and has jumped in to Summer Programmes with us in her first year. Iris' work is truly interdisciplinary: her areas of academic interest range from engaging men in conversations and movements regarding gender+ equality, urban sociology, Dutch nationalism, and cultural anthropology. 

    Javier Koole (MSc) is a ​​​​​​junior lecturer at the univeristiy of Amsterdam with an insatiable curiosity for understanding from a social perspective how environmental problems come to existence and how to solve them. During Javier's studies, he has worked in various work fields from research to food delivery. 

  • Explore our community

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam, and what the urban fabric of sensescapes is like? Follow us on social media and join our summer community. Get a feel for our summer school vibe and our academic and social community, and learn about studying with us through the eyes of past summer school students. 

    Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter 

    Interested in hearing more about placemaking as a methodology and ongoing placemaking projects in Amsterdam? Listen to some of our placemaking experts in this episode of our podcast, Mokum. 

Placemaking: Sense, Space & Strategy
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July