AMS Course Metropolitan Challenges

Course Description
This course addresses the challenges of contemporary metropolisation. For most of humanity, our tomorrows will be in the city. This represents a move away from traditional lifestyles. The emergence of the metropolitan landscape forces us to rethink, redesign and plan the environments we live and work in. We are in dire need of innovations: tomorrow’s traditions. We will need to seek to control energy use, develop new energy sources and new ways of saving for heating, cooling and electrifying our surroundings and for getting where we need or want to be. Mobility issues require new ways of thinking about moving. We will also need to adapt the existing cities to climate change and extreme weather events, which are more and more frequent. While there seems to be a triumph of the city, this ‘triumph’ does not reach all: social and spatial segregation are increasing. Exposure to environmental pollution, noise and reliance on non-active modes of transportation is affecting our health. All of these processes are intertwined in chains and cycles: the metropolitan metabolism. We have come to understand most of the individual chains or cycles but we do not yet fully understand their interconnectedness, nor are we able to optimise these connections to ours and the planet’s benefit.

In this AMS course on metropolitan challenges and methodologies, we introduce typical urban challenges of today, focusing on mobility, energy, health and socio-spatial cohesion. Particular focus will be on understanding the different multidisciplinary dimensions of these problems and to explore the linkages between these challenges. Metropolitan problems often have several dimensions: cultural, political, technical and aesthetic, to cite but a few. Consequently, addressing them requires the involvement of a large number of stakeholders with different disciplinary backgrounds. Combining these into interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways of working is required to deal with urban development in an innovative way. For any actor working to contribute to advanced metropolitan solutions, it becomes crucial to be able to understand, communicate and to co-operate with other actors in order to integrate their knowledge about issues at hand and to understand different (and often conflicting) objectives. Awareness of the socio- economic context, as well as the implicit and explicit values and cultural norms operating in a specific place and discipline is essential to achieve suitable solutions.

This AMS course enables students to better understand the multidisciplinary nature of metropolitan problems, and gain knowledge of different disciplinary approaches to engage with metropolitan challenges in a meaningful way. Particular attention will be paid to the development of skills and methods enabling this better understanding. The course introduces and discusses tools and frameworks for unravelling complex metropolitan challenges and provides for discussion on different norms and values commonly present in different communities of knowledge and in large groups of people working together.

March 21 2017- May 12 2017

Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS). AMS is located in the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam (KIT), Mauritskade 62, 1092 AD Amsterdam.

8 – possibility to obtain 12 credits with extra assignment

Learning objectives
After finalising this course, students will be able to:
1. explain the variety and the multidisciplinary nature of the challenges faced by metropolitan urban regions, with respect to AMS themes: mobility, energy, health, socio-spatial cohesion.
2. develop an integral problem definition for an Amsterdam metropolitan challenge
3. describe and critically interpret different knowledge claims from different disciplines and their roles in planning, designing and proposing interventions.
4. explain the role of theories of urbanization in metropolitan innovation practice and to find useful connections between theory and their own work.
5. critically evaluate existing metropolitan problem definitions using appropriate conceptual and methodological frameworks

Educational method
Work forms used in the course:
• Lectures including guest lectures
• Tutorials
• Peer review meetings, including mentored paper writing
• Group work leading to presentations, a group paper and a short film
• Field observation walks and excursions in Amsterdam
• Role playing and other games

A combination of different assessment strategies will be applied. This includes a group paper, a student-led seminar and a final exam. Class participation is important. The maximum marking period is 10 work days.

There is a possibility to earn 4 extra credits by completing an additional assignment, which is to develop a ‘knowledge clip’ (a simple movie, or animation) in which a particular AMS theme is explored in depth. Important for the grading is also the script for the ‘knowledge clip’, with ideas for texts on slides and visualisations.

AMS Institute
This special course is open to all master students from both TU Delft and WUR (and other universities), but their educational background and knowledge should be relevant for one or more of the themes that are central in this course: mobility, energy, health and socio-spatial segregation. This includes students from in the physical sciences, the human sciences and design. During most weeks, students are expected to be present two full days (Tuesday/Friday) at the AMS Institute in the center of Amsterdam.

How to enroll
Students need to complete an enrolment form before December 20, in which you detail your education background and briefly state why you like to participate in this AMS course. Note that there will be a selection of participants. This selection aims to make sure that students with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and previous knowledge can enter as this allows for multidisciplinary ways of working. We will also aim for a fair balance between students from TU Delft and WUR. We will inform students of the selection’s outcome ultimately December 23.

Minimum number of students

Maximum number of students

Course coordinators
Clemens Driessen (WUR)
Evert Meijers (TU Delft)
Roberto Rocco (TU Delft)
Bas van Vliet (WUR)

More information
For more information, contact the course coordinators at

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