For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

The Circular City: Towards a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem

Learn how to connect urban material, water, and energy flows to build a truly sustainable city. This three-week summer programme is developed in collaboration with Metabolic, a consulting and venture building company that uses systems thinking to tackle major sustainability challenges. 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.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-campus (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 21 July - Thursday 8 August 2024
    Housing dates:  Friday 19 July - Friday 9 August 2024
    Academic fees:

    Student fee: 

    €1750. Read more about what is included in the fees.

    Professional fee:

    €2000. Read more about what is included in the fees.

    Housing fees:  €850 for a private room and shared facilities. Housing is optional. Read more about university-organised accomodation
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admissions deadline:

    Thursday 1 February 2024. Applications are processed throughout the year on a rolling basis. 

    Students who require a Schengen Visa to study in the Netherlands are strongly advised to apply before the early deadline to ensure there is enough time to secure a visa appointment before the programme begins.

    Regular admissions deadline: Friday 15 March 2024 
    Who is this programme for?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

    Level: Advanced Bachelor, Masters and working professionals.

    Background: Students should have a strong background in social sciences, with a particular focus in in urban studies, earth sciences, sustainability and other related fields. Working professionals with experience in the above fields who wish to continue their education are also welcome to apply.

  • Programme description

    In this three-week summer programme, 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 interdisciplinary course unravels the complexity behind  truly sustainable urban development. The first week of the course will unravel the academic and theoretical perspectives behind sustainability approaches, the second week will dive into methods and tools for a more hands-on approach, and in the final week, participants will perform their own material flow analysis of a given neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Through studying examples from Amsterdam and by sharing best practices and key challenges from their home contexts, participants 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 both theoretically, and gain an introduction to innovative tools and methods, able to apply their knowledge learned in a wide variety of settings. 

  • 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. 

SPO Video
Join us in Amsterdam!
Facts & Figures
6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction
Conditions for admission
Starts in