AMS AMS MOOC I: Sustainable Urban Development

Discover Advanced Metropolitan Solutions


What will you learn in this course:

  • The most relevant challenges that metropolitan regions are facing
  • How you can respond to these challenges
  • Examples of sustainable, metropolitan interventions and solutions
  • How to critically reflect on and engage in the sustainable cities debate
  • Innovative solutions for your own urban living environment

Did you know that cities take up less than 3% of the earth’s land surface, but more than 50% of the world’s population live in them? And, cities generate more than 70% of the global emissions? Large cities and their hinterlands (jointly called metropolitan regions) greatly contribute to global urbanization and sustainability challenges, yet are also key to resolving these same challenges.

If you are interested in the challenges of the 21st century metropolitan regions and how these can be solved from within the city and its inhabitants, then this Sustainable Urban Development course is for you!

There are no simple solutions to these grand challenges! Rather the challenges cities face today require a holistic, systemic and transdisciplinary approach that spans different fields of expertise and disciplines such as urban planning, urban design, urban engineering, systems analysis, policy making, social sciences and entrepreneurship.

This MOOC is all about this integration of different fields of knowledge within the metropolitan context. The course is set up in a unique matrix format that lets you pursue your line of interest along a specific metropolitan challenge or a specific theme.

Because we are all part of the challenges as well as the solutions, we encourage you to participate actively! You will have the opportunity to explore the living conditions in your own city and compare your living environment with that of the global community.

You will discover possible solutions for your city’s challenges and what it takes to implement these solutions. Your participation will also contribute to wider research into metropolitan regions as complex systems.

We invite you to make the first steps in understanding the principles that will be essential to transform metropolitan regions into just, prosperous and sustainable places to live in!

Course information

  • Start: Febrary 7, 2018
  • Duration: 7 weeks
  • Estimated effort: 4-6 hours/ week
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Language: English (videos, transcripts, content)
  • Course level: Introductory



Course staff

Professor Huub H.M. Rijnaarts (Wageningen UR)

Huub Rijnaarts is professor in Environment and Water Technology at the sub-department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University, director of the Wageningen institute for Environmental and Climate research (WIMEK), member of the board of Deltares and member of the board of the Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS). He received his PhD (1994) through research on microbial adhesion on solid surfaces and biodegradation of halogenated compounds in groundwater and soils, which he conducted at Wageningen University. Huub heads multiple research projects focusing on water technology, resource recovery and creating resilient cities. In his spare time Huub likes to sail and play the guitar.

Areas of Expertise

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Technology



Dr. Marc Spiller (Wageningen UR)

Marc Spiller is a researcher and lecturer at the Urban System Engineering group, which is part of the sub-department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. He obtained his PhD from Cranfield University (UK) where he researched asset management and pollution source control by UK water wastewater service providers. Marc is teaching in a number of urbanization related courses with a focus on the planning and design of urban spaces. These courses are part of the master program Urban Systems Engineering at Wageningen University. His current research interests are centered on the transformation of urban infrastructure through the design and assessment of flexible technical systems. In his spare time Marc likes to go windsurfing and DIY.

Areas of Expertise

  • Natural resources
  • Urban water and wastewater infrastructure
  • Urban planning



Professor Arjan van Timmeren (TU Delft)

Arjan van Timmeren is professor of the chair in Environmental Technology & Design at the faculty of Architecture at TU Delft and lead Principle Investigator of the Amsterdam-based Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS institute). He was awarded his PhD with distinction for his research into the optimum scale for the preservation of the water, energy and nutrient flows in the built environment (2006, TU Delft). Arjan heads various research projects in the field of sustainable area development and integration of sustainable technologies in buildings and urban areas. In his spare time Arjan likes to paint, run, do Pilates, avant-garden and enjoy Mediterranean meals and wines.

Areas of Expertise

  • Sustainable area development
  • Energy-neutral construction
  • Connection and integration of electrical and general mobility
  • Renewable energy
  • Processing resource flows and associated infrastructure in urban environments



Mariette Overschie, MSc (TU Delft)

Mariette Overschie received her MSc in Industrial Design Engineering and Design for Sustainability from Delft University of Technology in 1994. Since 1999 she has worked at TU Delft as lecturer in the field of Engineering for Sustainable Development and Technology Assessment at the Faculty of Technology Policy and Management. She is preparing her PhD thesis on micro-training to involve employees in innovation for sustainable development. In her spare time Mariette likes to run and play field hockey.

Areas of Expertise

  • Engineering for Sustainable Development
  • Learning and Innovation
  • Technology Assessment



See also: ‘The making of the AMS MOOC’