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Three years of Urban Studies: 'Maybe it's time to think about a master's programme'

A study programme all about cities and their issues. Three years ago, the bachelor's programme Urban Studies was a newcomer in The Hague. By now, the first theses are being written. André Gerrits, programme director, talks about the programme’s success: 'The intake of first-years has increased from thirty to eighty students.'

To Gerrits, it was clear long before the start of Urban Studies that cities deserved their own study programme. 'About half of the world's population lives in cities. In twenty years' time, the number will probably be seventy per cent. This concentration of people leads to specific issues that are ideally suited to be studied by humanities scholars, such as multilingualism and multiculturalism.'

Lecturers as the key to success

Urban Studies is, however, not limited to the humanities. Students are also taught about fields such as psychology and environmental studies. In total, five faculties and eleven institutes work together on the programme. Gerrits: 'It was an administrative challenge, but thanks to the commitment and flexibility of the lecturers, we succeeded. They were prepared to do something different from what they were used to doing in their 'own' programme and to invest extra time. I am proud of that. It also shows that in practice, many administrative structures may be redundant. If lecturers want to work together, they will. In fact, every director should work at Urban Studies for a while to experience that.

Maturing with a master's degree

Now that the first students are about to graduate, the start-up phase is truly over. What will the future bring Urban Studies? 'It is almost time for our assessment,' Gerrits says. ‘During our first assessment, three years ago, there were still some points of criticism. The humanities-based approach was not always clear, for example. We'll have to wait and see what the results are this time. If the results are positive, it might be time to think about a master's programme. In my opinion, you need one to create a mature study programme. Perhaps we could work together with the universities in Delft and Rotterdam to realize this.

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