The aim of the minor is to introduce students from the LDE universities through case-based education to the different smart city concepts and the underlying complexity of modern cities, focused on urban technologies and data science with citizen experience and multi-stakeholder governance. The program is characterized by a multi-disciplinary approach, which allows students to take different perspectives and understand the complexity of smart city life. The program intends to stimulate a reflective mindset, focusing on the interrelation of problems and responsible innovation. The learning goals concern knowledge, attitude, and skills which in combination need to equip students with a critical mindset that enables them to work towards public needs and interests in smart cities.

For this minor there is a balance between traditional and innovative learning methods. The modules are designed in a blended learning form, meaning lectures will make use of face-to-face lectures, online documents and articles, and video’s/online lectures. Reading materials include policy papers, reports, articles, and books. We will use Canvas and Uptrek as electronic teaching environments.

The minor consists of three modules of 5 EC each for the 15 EC variety. The 30 EC variety holds four modules of 5 EC and 10 EC research work for an (external) commissioner. The format and modules include classic and innovative teaching methods, i.e., lectures and seminars, field trips, case-based group assignments, video production, blogging and logbooks and the integration of academia and practice.

Overview minor modules

Module 1: Introduction to the smart city

In this first module the students will be introduced to the core ideas of the smart city and technologies. The module will cover the historical development of the smart city concept and address the various functions of smart city discourse. It will also explain the basic digital and data technologies (key enabling technologies) that constitute smart cities and discuss the various methodologies to involve citizens and users (key enabling methodologies). There will also be ample attention for the legal, ethical, political, and social dilemmas in smart cities. The module will simultaneously introduce students to the most common theories of urban studies, urbanism, and urbanization.

Faculty: Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University


Module 2: Citizens and everyday experiences with the smart city

Many of the smart city projects are framed as producing solutions to large challenges in cities, regarding, among others, the environment, mobility, security, and safety. In addition, there is a strong articulation of ‘smart city’ with open data, citizen participation and start-up economy. In this module we approach the smart city from the perspective of the citizen and the social fabric in the city. Who benefits from smart city developments, whose interests are served? Which groups miss out, and how is everyday life in streets, stores, pubs, and clubs affected? In this module we discuss the contrast between technologies of care and service, versus control and surveillance. We pay special attention to the ever-expanding array of smart forms of co-creation as opposed to forms of ‘sousveillance’ and ‘coveillance’. Both the civic non-response to the smart city, and the political, artistic and design interventions will be theoretically and empirically addressed.

Faculty: Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University


Module 3: Governing the smart city

Data and digital technologies offer both great potential for cities and great risks. In this module we discuss the effects of platform capital in cities, in the form of, among others, Airbnb and Uber. We explore the various responses from banning (as in Barcelona) to regulating (as in Amsterdam) and free entry (as in many other cities in the world). We will show the political-economic interests of these platforms and discuss the European regulations and attempts at curtailing them. We also zoom in on the way cities themselves explore the use of digital and data technologies and which models of regulation and participation they have developed. The module will have a strong input from public administration perspectives and discuss how different governance ideologies (new public management vs new public service) produce different understandings of what a smart city should achieve.

Faculty: Faculty Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University


Module 4: Urban Data Science

This course aims to inform students about the big range of geosocial big data technologies such as sensing devices, GPS trackers, social media and massive government and public data repositories within modern cities. Lectures from data science and urban planning discuss the present and future of (spatial) data science applications in urban and regional contexts.

Faculty: TU Delft Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology


Module 5: Research participation and projects

This course will put all the theory the students had in the previous modules into practice. The students will be able to participate in research practices of existing research projects. Students can register for a topic of their choosing. A research design for this topic is written based on working group meetings and assignments. If this is approved by the supervisor a report will be written. The students work both individually on their topic as experts and in teams on the project. Supervised meetings are scheduled to exchange knowledge, stimulate integration, and monitor the progress. In addition, students meet with the commissioner to work together and share the results of their research. This module ends with a plenary presentation of the projects.

Faculty: Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Faculty Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University

ECTS: 10