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Placemaking: Sense, Space & Strategy

This three-week programme will explore the web of relationships between people and place, with a special focus on the sensory experience of the city, and with the aim to plan for changes. Placemaking as a philosophy and practice concerns the improvement of urban spaces by including its users in the transition for change. Through a bottom-up planning process, it intends to give the right to the city back to its inhabitants. This innovative course borrows from human geography, experimental and environmental-psychology, history, and sociology, problematising the urban environments in which we live. Interdisciplinary theoretical insights will directly inspire the hands-on part of the programme in which students will apply the Placemaking methodology and put forward proposals for interventions.

  • 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 theory, policies, politics and practices 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. Situating placemaking in a mixed academic context and intersecting it with sensescapes, this course focuses on topics such as public space, community, diversity and 'the right to the city'.

    Experiencing the city through the many different sensory lenses is at the heart of this programme. It 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. Urban spaces can be imagined as territories of negotiation. Sensory experiences often inspire a strong sense of belonging and might therefore play an important role in the co-creation of space.  

    The diverse morning lectures focus on the theory of placemaking as well as on the theoretical implications of ‘sensescapes’: discussing how urban space is perceived on the basis of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), and how urban sensescapes might be contested, if threatened. In the afternoon, we will use Amsterdam as our living laboratory, doing sound- and smell walks through diverse neighbourhoods and exploring placemaking practices at various locations. 

    You will also learn-by-doing, intensively engaging with a specific site in Amsterdam. There you will study challenges formulated by local stakeholders (these might be community organizers or the municipality). To analyse and develop an intervention for these challenges you will be guided through a design thinking research process involving local residents. Finally, you will have the opportunity to present your initial solutions in the presence of the stakeholders. 

    Like other global cities, Amsterdam is constantly growing and changing, with implications for its sensescapes, and thereby, for people’s relationships to the city. In this territory of negotiation, where the sense of belonging is at stake, placemaking offers an opportunity – albeit small – to practice the right to the city. 

  • Academic directors

    Dr. Thea Dukes is an urban/political geographer and a psychologist. She coordinates and 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). Her main research interests relate to the urban as a political arena, 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 Huis is a sociologist with a PhD in Political Science. Iris' work is truly interdisciplinary: her areas of academic interest range from interventions and movements engaging men in conversations regarding intersectional equality, to social work interventions in disadvantaged neighborhoods. She also studied resistances to the representation of the Dutch colonial heritage in ethnographic museums and protests against ethnonationalist discourses by artists with refugee backgrounds. At the University of Amsterdam she coordinates and lectures an Urban Studies course called Cities and Change as well as a course on Social Policy.

    Javier Koole (MSc) is a ​​​​​​junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam for the program Interdisciplinary Social Science (ISS). He teaches courses from various disciplines such as Sociology, Geography, Anthropology. Furthermore, he teaches placemaking. For his master thesis he examined the different values of the urban green environment and nature(s) of Amsterdam between different actors in the city. His primary field of interests are understanding environmental issues through a social lens.

  • 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. 

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July