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Open Programme

Rethinking Sustainable Societies: Urban Lab (EN)

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The current climate crisis requires us to rethink how we develop a sustainable society. As most of the world now lives in urban environments, it makes sense to look at how our cities are designed and what needs to be changed - both in terms of climate mitigation and adaptation.

This course will take a hands-on approach to some of the most pressing climate issues currently facing the municipality of Amsterdam.

In a Pressure Cooker format of four weeks of intensive collaboration, you and your team of fellow students will make a climate-proof plan and present it to representatives of the municipality. Workshops in urban planning, design thinking and group work will prepare you to become a professional who can collaborate and take an interdisciplinary approach to work on tomorrow’s challenges. Help tackle real-world problems and join this exciting urban lab! 

The course will start with an introduction day with the client and several workshops focusing on content and skills. Students will then actively collaborate on the analysis phase.

The second week will start with a workshop and reflection session, and students will continue with the second phase of visioning.

The third week will start with a workshop and reflection session, after which the students will work on the third phase of plan development, using a backcasting and prototyping approach.

The fourth week will focus on elaboration and refinement. It will start again with a workshop and reflection session, and end with the presentations of the plans to the client.


Mr. Mendel Giezen

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, students are able to:

  • Apply concepts from the minor to concrete urban practices
  • Organise effectively and collaborate in group work
  • Apply Design Thinking to an urban sustainability issue
  • Apply a planning process to an urban sustainability issue
  • Develop a coherent plan and present it both verbally and in written form

Teaching format

  • Seminar
  • Fieldwork/excursion
  • Presentation / Symposium
  • Self-study
  • Work independently on project/thesis


The course will be assessed through a final group report and presentation.

Entry requirement

6 EC in Sustainability courses is required (i.g. Rethinking Sustainable Societies: New Perspectives or another sustainability course).

Study material

  • Literature: Academic articles accessible through

  • Other materials will be provided on Canvas


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Recommended prior knowledge

Knowledge of sustainability issues is recommended.

Number of participants



UvA students can register from 7 June 2021 (look for code 5512SSSL6Y in SIS) until one week prior to the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at

Please note: contract students and ‘bijvak’ students cannot participate in this course.


Check the website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Open UvA Courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in January