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Spatial Problems and Spatial Policies

The Dutch Experience (10 EC)

Course structure

This course is offered twice a year, and is worth 10 EC (European Credits), which is the equivalent of approximately 280 hours of study. The course is offered in two versions: a tutorial version (for undergraduate or Bachelor students) and a seminar version (for graduate or Master students).  

Course components

The course has lectures, tutorials (for undergraduate students), seminars (for graduate students), excursions and a concluding role play session.

Course timetable

  • Autumn term in 2020/2021: August 28, 2020 - November 27, 2020.

week(s)

AUTUMN TERM
1-2 Academic and social introduction programme, including 2 lectures and 2 excursions
3-8

Lectures: 2 or 3 lectures per week, two tutorials (tutorial version), three seminars (seminar version), 3 excursions

9-10 Break: exams for other course(s)
11-13

Exam (tutorial version)

Final seminar (seminar version)

Concluding role play session

  • Spring term in 2020/2021:  January 29, 2021 - April 9, 2021

week(s)

SPRING TERM
1-2 Academic and social introduction programme, including 2 lectures and 2 excursions
3-8

Lectures: 2 or 3 lectures per week, two tutorials (tutorial version), three seminars (seminar version), excursions

9-10

Exam (tutorial version)

Final seminar (seminar version)

Concluding role play session

Course lectures and excursions

The course includes lectures on

  • Population Dynamics
  • Shaping the Dutch Landscape
  • Rural Areas
  • (Un)Employment and Labour Market
  • Spatial Planning
  • Water Management
  • Climate Change and the Netherlands
  • Regional Policies
  • Cultural Geography
  • Provision of (Social) Housing
  • Transportation and Mobility
  • Randstad Holland and the Green Heart: Planning a polynuclear city
  • Death and Space (Planning graveyards)

The course includes a series of excursions, including

  • a one day bus excursion (7 hours) to and through the 'suburbs' of the City of Groningen and parts of the Province of Groningen (for example, the 'Blue City' project)
  • a walking tour (3 hours) of the inner city of the City of Groningen
  • a bicycle tour (4 hours) 'Bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands'
  • a one day bus excursion (11 hours) entitled 'The Dutch Manscape: Dutch Water Management' (a tour of the 'Zuyder Zee project': land reclamations and water defense systems, in cooperation with ESN Groningen)
  • a one day bus excursion (14 hours) entitled: 'The Dutch Manscape: Randstad Holland and the Green Heart' (in cooperation with ESN Groningen)
  • an afternoon bicycle excursion (2 hours) 'Death and space'

Course philosophy

The fundamental strengths and weaknesses of the course 'Spatial Problems and Spatial Policies: The Dutch Experience' and student experiences in the course, stem from the same two intrinsic characteristics. Firstly, students bring with them a wide variety of different educational cultural backgrounds and have reached different levels of attainment in varied academic skills and disciplines. This is the case with any group of students, but is clearly particularly marked with students who come from different educational systems at varied stages in their educational career and are in Groningen for different purposes and lengths of time. Secondly, foreign students are by definition unfamiliar with the City of Groningen, The Netherlands, and possibly even Europe. The resulting 'culture shock' in all its dimensions presents students with the task of rapidly eliminating a deficit in fundamental knowledge, but equally presents them with a unique opportunity to view our situation through their own perspectives. Even more important in the long run, to use the foreignness of their experience in Groningen to place their home situation in a new context, confronting hitherto unacknowledged assumptions.

The course has been constructed not merely to bypass and accommodate these characteristics as weaknesses but equally to exploit them as strengths. The comparative approach will therefore never be far from the surface in all topics handled. The Dutch case is being used not as an end in itself, but as the common yardstick against which one can place own individual experiences.

There are many possible approaches to the study of planning, but that adopted here is problem oriented; planning is thus seen as a problem solving operation. In part this may be dictated by the two different but related types of academic disciplines represented among contributors, and the course can roughly be divided into two parts:

  1. The first half is dominated by geographers and demographers interested in describing spatial patterns and the processes that cause and influence them. From such patterns, problems - whether economic, social, political or demographic - can be identified and delineated.
  2. The second half of the course is given principally by contributors interested more directly in intervention, whether through influencing the public or private actors. This should be an analysis of solutions through policy.

Course entry requirements

The course 'Spatial Problems and Spatial Policies: The Dutch Experience' is available for two groups of students: bachelor (undergraduate) students, and master (graduate) students. For exchange students originating from universities without the separation between bachelor and master programs, an assessment of their level will be made during the 'Academic and social introduction programme'. A personal intake meeting with the course coordinator will take place. In general, students are required to have completed the equivalent of at least one full year of academic studies in Geography, Planning, Urban Studies or a related programme.

Requirements and grading tutorial version

The requirements for the tutorial version of the course are:

  • preparation (advance reading), attendance and participation in course lectures
  • participation and attendance of tutorial meetings; the tutorials will link the various lectures and give participants options to reflect on the course contents
  • 2 papers (one 'local paper' and one 'supervised paper')
  • excursion participation
  • written examination reflecting the lectures and the accompanying reading materials

For the tutorial version, the end mark is a composite mark reflecting

  • the written exam (40% of end mark)
  • the supervised paper (30% of end mark)
  • the local paper (20% of the end mark)
  • a course participation mark, including the concluding role play (10%).

A passing mark must be achieved for both papers and for the written exam in order to complete the course.

Grades are expressed in terms of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Requirements and grading seminar version

The requirements for the seminar version of the course are:

  • preparation (advance reading), attendance and participation in course lectures
  • participation and attendance of seminar meetings; the seminars require active participation. In each seminar, participants present and discuss paper intentions, outlines or findings. Two seminars have an individual assignment that will be graded.
  • excursion participation
  • 3 papers (one 'local paper', one 'comparative planning' paper, one 'supervised paper' free of choice)  

For the seminar version, the end mark is a composite mark reflecting

  • the marks on the three papers (20%, 20%, 25%)
  • the seminar participation (25%)
  • a course participation mark, including the concluding role play (10%)

A passing mark must be achieved for each of the three papers in order to complete the course.

Grades are expressed in terms of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).  

Course fee

The fee for this course is € 90 per participant (2020/2021). This is not a tuition fee, but a fee to cover the costs of the introduction programme and the bus excursions (including meals). There are no additional fees for books or other excursions.    

More information

For more information, please send an email to Paul van Steen.

Last modified:20 February 2020 12.09 p.m.