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The Circular City: Towards a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem

Due to their environmental impact, cities play a crucial role in the transition towards sustainable societies. Despite the fact that they occupy only 3% of the global terrestrial surface, cities house more than half of the world’s population, consume 7% of its natural resources, and are directly and indirectly responsible for 60 to 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions (UNEP, 2012). The urban environment thus acts as a nexus of material flows and nodes for energy, water, consumption and production. Cities are key leverage points that demand our focus if we are to accelerate the necessary transition to circular and sustainable systems, both locally and globally. Learn how to connect urban material, water, and energy flows to build a truly sustainable city. This programme is developed in collaboration with Metabolic, a consulting and venture building company that uses systems thinking to tackle major sustainability challenges.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-site (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 25 July - Thursday 12 August  2021*
    Housing dates: Saturday 24 July - Friday 13 August 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 (upper-year Bachelors and Masters) in the arts and social sciences with an interest and background in urban studies, earth sciences, and sustainability (and other related fields). Also open for working professionals with a desire to continue their education in this field.

    *Dates and prices are tentative and subject to change, and will be finalised by 1 December 2020. 


  • Programme description

    In this course, students are taught how to leverage the potential of cities via a new paradigm for urban planning and design: urban metabolism. While this concept has been around for over 50 years, recent interest in it has rejuvenated the fields of urban studies, industrial ecology, and architecture. Urban metabolism can be defined as the sum total of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities, resulting in growth, and production of energy, materials, and waste. The city is viewed by its ‘material flows’, generally defined into water, energy, materials (including food), and waste. These flows consist of inputs (local, regional, and global inflow of resources), throughputs (energy required to transform these resources and waste produced by any process), and outputs (the material outcome of this process). 

    This three-week interdisciplinary and hands-on course unravels the complexity behind  truly sustainable urban development. The programme uses Amsterdam as case study for analysis and action. While immersed within this innovative city, students will learn about several aspects of urban resilience from ecological, economic, and cultural perspectives. Through the use of different tools, scientific methods and analysis, students will experience experimental urban design and planning firsthand. Inspired and equipped with the right tools and knowledge base, students will return to their home cities ready to step up to the challenge and transform their cities. 

  • Academic director

    Dr. Mendel Giezen is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Urban Development and Infrastructure within the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam, and Academic Director of the Circular City summer programme. He is the Founder and Chair of the Sustainable Cities group within the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP).  He works on projects in adaptive decision-making and planning of spatial interventions, the up-scaling of low carbon urban development, and the governance of resilient and circular urban water systems. He supervises two PhD research projects and has participated in both international and national research consortia. Mendel holds a certificate in "Essentials of Leadership" obtained at the Erasmus University and has published extensively in a variety of academic journals.

    Gerard Roemers (MSc) is a senior consultant and Cities Team Lead at Metabolic. From this position he is, amongst other things, involved in collaborations with several universities and research institutes in the Netherlands such as the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS). Gerard received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Groningen, and a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Development from the University of Utrecht. His work focuses on the interface between these two disciplines and is aimed at discovering the leverage points through which the material- water- and energy cycles in regions and cities can be closed. In other words, in finding out how the ideal of a circular city or region can be achieved, through novel planning and design processes, policies, and innovations.

  • Explore our community

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam? 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

    Looking for an alumni perspective? Read this interview with Piotr Barzack, who attended The Circular City in summer 2018. 

The Circular City: Towards a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission Open
Starts in July