Sustainable Urban Regions (30 ects)
Developing the green and healthy urban regions of the future. Does that sound like your dream job? Our Sustainable Urban Regions minor programme will prepare you to tackle the challenges ahead. As urban populations continue to grow rapidly all over the world, how do we densify our cities by building more homes when we also need to radically green urban regions? More than ever before, tomorrow’s cities face tremendous challenges in developing climate-adaptive, biodiverse neighbourhoods where inhabitants’ access to nature starts on their doorstep, thus enhancing their health and wellbeing.
In this full-time 30 ECTS minor at Aeres University of Applied Sciences in Almere, you combine your interest in nature, urban development, human health and wellbeing, and data visualisation. You work individually and in groups. You do your own research and fieldwork at a case-study location. Our dedicated professors coach you, drawing on their expertise in climate-change adaptation, biodiversity restoration and the promotion of human health. You collect, analyse, visualise and present data to provide insights into citizens’ needs, eco-social challenges, resources, and underlying mechanisms. You also provide long-term solutions to urban development with the aid of smart technology. Your communication and collaborative skills and ability to wrap your head around complex problems mean you go a step further than just ensuring that people in urban areas survive in a changing climate: you’re able to establish nature-based urban developments that provide essential ecosystem services to secure high levels of comfort and wellbeing for citizens, and that help nature thrive.
What do the 5 modules in this minor look like in more detail?
- In the main assignment you and your fellow students design the healthy, green city district of the future for an external organisation. You have an advisory role on how to develop robust spatial solutions to urban challenges that promote human ecosystem health and well-being in the context of climate change. Almere is an interesting subject to investigate: built in 1975, it is a relatively new city with lots of green space and a large building task. But of course, we will also take advantage of the proximity of the city’s older neighbour, Amsterdam, with its specific characteristics such as centuries-old infrastructure, competition for space and the presence of a large business district.
- The Nature-inclusive and healthy city module addresses three main topics: nature-inclusive area development, the benefits of green for health promotion (salutogenesis), and the development of effective climate-change adaptation strategies. To investigate how urban green space affects health positively and what the underlying mechanisms are, you will examine the potential of different types of green – green facades, green roofs and the like – for enhancing physical and mental wellbeing. The benefits of urban agriculture initiatives are also dealt with in this module. An integral part of this module is learning to identify the impact of climate change on urban areas and prioritise needs so you can develop effective solutions for different user groups. When you have completed this module, you will be able to apply (eco)systemic thinking and develop up-scaling strategies to work towards sustainable urban regions.
- During the Location Intelligence module you learn how to work with static and dynamic 2D and 3D data so you can design eye-catching maps and visualisations for professionals and citizens. You develop your skills to use GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and we delve into topics such as Social Cartography, Modifiable Area Unit Problem and asymmetric maps. If you do not have any GIS knowledge yet, please feel free to contact the minor coordinator to discuss your possibilities to take part in the minor. We try to make it accessible for a variety of backgrounds.
- In Urban metabolism in a changing climate we look at the city as one big, buzzing ‘organism’ and focus not only on people, butalso on non-human species. Can cities, with their unique accumulation of people and goods, be a force for good in the transition towards a circular economy? How can we design new city districts in such a way that they provide habitats for as many plant and animal species as possible? How can city planning help us reach the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and how might climate change affect this? You will also reflect on urban planning trends and learn to describe the principles and trends of smart and circular regions. You will construct a regional urban chain analysis on raw (urban) materials as an important base for smart circular urban development, and you will enrich your professional vocabulary with terms like ‘urban heat island’, ‘ecological planning’ and ‘urban swarming’.
- The Storytelling and story mapping module is about the power of a good narrative in communication. You learn to apply storytelling principles by designing story maps and presentations and you evaluate the communication of your message with a target audience. You also organise your own symposium, which is a synthesis of all you have learned and experienced during this minor!
ASUR 01: Assessment
- Define an assignment related to Sustainable Urban Regions from an external organisation
- Analyse and visualise geodata to gain spatial insight for that organisation
- Do additional research related to the assignment and write a personal essay about it, as an input to the group work
- Construct a concept for the future development of a sustainable urban region
- Present that concept to a wider audience
ASUR 02: The nature-inclusive healthy city
- Know the different views on how to define health and the dimensions of health
- Understand the scientific development of research into the relationship between nature inclusiveness and health
- Know about underlying mechanisms that explain the positive association between nature inclusiveness and health
- Have an insight into the different methods for assessing nature inclusiveness and citizens’ health
- Be able to formulate substantiated proposals on how to improve the green urban environment in order to enhance citizens’ health
- Have an insight into drivers of climate change and the spatial impact of climate change from an urban perspective
- Relate negative and positive climate-change feedback loops resulting from human activities and processes.
- Identify the impact of climate change on urban areas and prioritise needs so you can develop effective solutions for different user groups.
- Be able to develop street-level climate-change interventions and up-scaling strategies to work towards sustainable regions
ASUR 03: Location Intelligence
- Be able to describe how data and data models enable spatial analysis
- Be able to visualise geodata based on standard methods and technologies
- Understand how site selection, geodemographic analysis, market segmentation, urban planning and geodesign are positioned in a professional domain
ASUR 04: Urban Metabolism in a changing climate
- Be able to explain and use some well-known models for sustainable development and the circular economy
- Know the principles of urban ecology and ecological planning and apply these in spatial planning tasks
- Know the principles of the circular economy and apply these in (virtual) urban development strategies
- Relate the impact of climate change to biodiversity and nature
- Take climate change into account when developing a vision about development of urban regions
- Be able to describe principles of and trends in smart urban regions
- Be able to describe principles of and trends in circular urban regions
- Reflect on these principles in relation to urban metabolism
ASUR 05: Storytelling and story mapping
- Apply storytelling principles when designing story maps
- Evaluate the communication of your message with a target audience
- Present structured stories in a live setting
You must provide written permission from the institution where you are currently enrolled that states you are allowed to take this 4th-year bachelor’s minor. The minor is accessible to students with many different backgrounds – in fact, this variety in backgrounds is one of its success factors. You need experience in some of the described topics and an interest in others.
Will be provided on Canvas (Intranet).
Study year 2024–2025, semester 1.
There will be classes on two or three days each week except holidays; probablyon Monday, Tuesday and/or Wednesday, but this is nog yet definitive.
This minor will be examined by 1 assessment and 3 courses.
Type of exam: Assessment
Name: The nature-inclusive healthy city
Type of exam: Assignment
Name: Location Intelligence
Type of exam: Assignment
Name: Urban Metabolism in a changing climate
Type of exam: Written exam
Name: Storytelling and story mapping
Type of exam: Assignment
If you see yourself playing a part in sustainable urban development or research, apply now! Or ask your questions to the minor coordinator, who will be most happy to answer them.