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The Circular City: Towards a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem

Programmes organised by the Graduate School of Social Science (including this programme) are cancelled for summer 2020 in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in following this programme in the future, please email summer-info-gsss@uva.nl with the programme name in the subject line and we will keep you updated on all developments in the coming months. Want to keep updated on social media and online content for summer 2020? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at the links below.

Programme at a glance

Academic dates: 28 June - 16 July 2020
Housing dates: 26 June - 17 July 2020
Academic fee: € 1600 read more about what’s included.
Housing fee:

€ 625 for a private room with shared facilities and a € 75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.

Credits: 6 European Credits
Who is this programme for? For current university students (Bachelors and Masters) in the arts and social sciences with a 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.
Academic Directors: Mendel Giezen & Gerard Roemers
Early application deadline: 1 February 2020
Regular application deadline: 1 April 2020

Programme description

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.

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. 

Get in touch with us at summer-info-gsss@uva.nl or call +31 (0)20 525 3776.

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