Urban Governance

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In this course, students learn how our built environment fluctuates in conjunction with our society. Subjects will include methods to design, construct, manage and organise, together with users. In relation to these activities, students' understanding will grow of their role as responsible professional (attitude); they will be equipped with the requisites for operating as a professional in the spatial domain (knowledge, skills); they will develop an international viewpoint and skills, and become acquainted with local government bodies and everything related to these from within.

The design and management of our built environment, as well as the public spaces, are the work of many. Initiatives are continually being taken to adapt or improve the physical living environment. The reasons for this are various, as are those taking the initiative and/or the involvement. Individual and groups of inhabitants, governments, companies and other parties engage in the related thought, debate and design process. Here we are dealing with social, political and private motives. Liveability and health, climate adaptation and energy transition are a few of the important driving forces. This impacts directly on the domain of construction and space.

A society, such as a city, a village or even a street, in which the involvement of many parties is not only desired but stimulated, requires an open and connecting professional who thinks in comprehensive solutions and uses his or her knowledge and skills with that society in mind. A key issue for such a professional is how various interests and motives can be integrated. Who organises what, who is responsible, what can be done, what are the common goals, what is required, who are the decision-makers and how will it turn out? How can we finance the project? And, finally, how does it all fit into the various evolving frameworks, such as that of the Dutch Environment & Planning Act?

Municipalities, provincial authorities, water boards and other organisations (incl. housing corporations) play key roles in designing and managing the environment we live in. Yet those tasks and responsibilities are always evolving and constantly require new knowledge and skills, both from the organisations' own employees and their external consultants. These consultants may, for example, be employed by local authorities. In that setting, too, BE engineers and consultants work to improve the daily environment of many people, both in the Netherlands and abroad.


The Urban Governance minor focuses on the development of the knowledge, skills and professional attitude required to operate in the context described above, working from the basic principles of taking an integrated approach, sustainable development, space and society. The three learning strategies of the minor, e.g. theoretical, experiential and portfolio learning, will use the same principles as a starting point. Students will have developed knowledge and skills in the areas of design and research, civil and construction engineering, communication and information management in the first two years of the course. In Year 3, the Urban Governance minor helps students create a distinctive profile.

The objectives of the minor are achieved by way of 12 EC of theoretical learning (divided over 4 modules worth 3 EC each) and 18 EC of experiential/portfolio learning.

As regards the experiential/portfolio learning component, students will be working with and alongside practitioners and putting their own skills into practice. Students will, for a time, become part of the public and political domain for the development of the knowledge, skills and attitude required. The municipalities in particular will be collaborating with the university and students to achieve that objective. Students will be familiarising themselves with the various roles, assignments, qualities, responsibilities and processes from within those organisations. In addition, they will be working on projects in the spatial planning and society domain. Within that framework, the course provides students with component-specific training courses, workshops, lectures, etc. Students will develop their own personal profile and what they are able to offer society.

Students will be able to use the theory components to develop their skills and knowledge in the following areas:

Comparative Studies
Co-creation and collaboration between people or groups requires professionals who are sensitive to their environment. What motivates people in their choices with regard to the environment they live in? How do we communicate with one another? What implicit and explicit assumptions and expectations do people make or have? What position do the students themselves take? And how can they ensure that connections are made? What role does their own cultural background and that of others play? This course will examine the various backgrounds and differences in personal 'world views' and how those aspects may affect cooperation. The primary focus will be on practical situations and experiences in multicultural and international contexts. The course will compare a number of cities on different continents in terms of urban development traits.

Urban and Regional Planning
An intervention in the environment equally counts as a 'response' to the work of predecessors (engineers, designers, planners, politicians, government). The spatial environment tells the story of what social decisions and public and private investments were made and which designs were implemented. This course will look at spatial planning and development from the 20th century onward and examine the specific characteristics. It is those (urban planning) characteristics that students will encounter in their work later on. This course will primarily focus on the development of residential areas and residential neighbourhoods, with the city of Groningen as the main field of study.

Social & Spatial Analyses
A good understanding of the local and regional situation is vital in order to carry out interventions or changes in the built environment. This requires mapping the area's social and spatial characteristics and how the area functions. What are the objectives and how can they be achieved? How can that information be collected? And what conclusions can be drawn from it? How can various developments be monitored and evaluated? This course will study various methods and techniques that allow such analyses to be carried out. Students will be developing their skills as a researcher and as a consultant.

Community Engagement
In civil societies like our own and many others all around the world, principles such as participation, co-creation, transparency and legitimacy are key. Various methods and practices are used to achieve those goals. Experiences have been gained (in international context). This course will examine the theory and the methods. What is needed to cultivate engagement and action? How does this develop over time? What are the best practices in relation to the built environment? Which methods have proven to be effective? Within this context, what are the roles and attitudes of the professional, the researcher, the designer and the director? And what role do the citizens, government or other parties play?

Experiential learning
As mentioned previously, students will be spending part of the semester working at one of the local authority partners, where they will become familiar with the relevant body from the inside out. During this time, students will conduct an analysis of part of the city or municipality. In addition, they will be going on a three-day research excursion to a region outside the Netherlands, where they will look at how planning policy is organised there and how that knowledge can be used in their 'own' municipality. In the portfolio learning component, students will be reflecting on their development and concretising and becoming aware of their development during the semester.

Study Programme

This minor is part of the Hanze UAS Groningen (Dutch-taught) Built Environment bachelor's programme.

Minor type

Mandatory: students following the Built Environment programme and taking a major in Urban Development (Ruimtelijke Ontwikkeling) must choose at least one of the following minors: Urban Governance or Urban Regeneration.

Will take place in

Semester 1 (winter semester)

Number of ECTS credits




Available to

• students following the Built Environment programme at Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen (minor enrolment via Osiris);
• Students from our partner institutions abroad. You can apply once your university has officially nominated you. For more information visit hanze.nl/isd

Contact person

Dhr. J.H. Boer (Eric)
E: j.h.boer@pl.hanze.nl
T: 050 595 45 88

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