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'With Urban Studies in Practice, we bring the outside world inside'

Working for a social client during your studies: this is what happens at Urban Studies. For the course Urban Studies in Practice, third-year students carry out projects for public clients, such as the municipality of The Hague.

Electric scooters everywhere

The students participating in Urban Studies in Practice got to choose between two projects this year. About two thirds of them are working on energy transition in The Hague neighbourhoods Moerwijk and Marlot. The other students are working on a project about shared electric scooters. ‘Those shared scooters are a great initiative', says student Bram Middel, 'but there are also issues. On hot days, all of them suddenly end up in Scheveningen or people leave them in the middle of the street. Together with seven fellow students, I am looking at how we can tackle this problem. Can we reward people for parking them in the correct spots? Or should we maybe improve the app? It is nice that this project is even more practical than the group projects that we have previously done, if only because the municipality partly evaluates us.’

Labour market or school setting?

‘Initially, the role of the municipality of The Hague caused some confusion among the students,’ says Jetse Siebenga, one of the course lecturers. ‘Was this a real assignment or a school setting? Students wrote their reports with us in mind while we wanted them to focus on the client, as real consultants.’

‘We had to help some students cross a threshold in the practical implementation of the project,’ his colleague Katja Lubina adds. ‘They have to approach people and do street interviews, for example. That takes them out of their comfort zone. And then there is Covid. We have really had to coach them from time to time, but now most of them are well on their way.’

Network after your studies

According to the lecturers, most students enjoy the assignment now. Siebenga: 'We notice that students like the fact that their results can be used within a short period of time. The municipality of The Hague was not prepared for the arrival of 3,000 shared scooters, so they are desperate for advice. Such an approach matches the principle of Urban Studies: we like to bring the outside world inside.’

‘You notice that a project like this resonates with the students, because it is so tangible,’ says Lubina. ‘It is a clear and inspiring challenge for them, which not only aligns with the themes of Urban Studies, but also helps with the transition to the working world. We hope to attract more clients in the future, because it's great for students to build a network in this way.’

‘We want to do well’

Bram and his team are very committed. ‘Everyone in my group works hard and does their bit,' he says. ‘Especially since we are the first third-year students of Urban Studies, we want to do well. This way, the students that follow might be able to work on even more different projects.’

Kennis maken Den Haag 

Since 2020, Leiden University has been participating in the project Kennis Maken Den Haag, in which The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Inholland University of Applied Sciences and Leiden University - Campus The Hague work together to find new, concrete solutions to social issues in the city. The project led, among other things, to a series of sessions with first-year students in which a redesign for different parts of the city was discussed. The assignments for the third-year students also resulted from this network.

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