Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The Future of Ports, and Beyond: Research on Values, Heritage and Port City Futures in the Netherlands

Central to Port City Futures is the concept of ‘values.’ We contend that greater understanding of values is crucial for improving the often-contentious processes of transition port cities are undergoing. Ports are often sites where large industrial areas border dense urban and rural ones, shaping both them and the hinterlands they connect to. However, increasing containerization has often mitigated potential for collaborations between these areas, and thus for integrated responses to emerging societal challenges. Furthermore, differences in both values and the social, economic, and political capital actors associated with ports and their surroundings hold has often led to environmental and social injustice. Given this historical context, and the contemporary challenges facing port cities, Port City Futures contends we urgently need to understand both the tensions generated by diverging values and areas where shared ones can enable processes of inclusion and cooperation, rendering ongoing transitions — in energy, technology and society — more democratic and sustainable.

Andrew Littlejohn

About Port City Futures

Port cities and cultures have played a vital role in the development of contemporary economies and societies. Today, however, such cities and their occupants are having to rethink their social, economic, and spatial organization in response to challenges including climate change, digitization, and changing patterns of migration. Port City Futures, a collaboration between Leiden, Delft, and Erasmus Universities, studies both the past and present of port city spaces, cultures, and modes of governance, as well as their interaction with other regions, in order to both understand and inform these transitions. MSc students associated with the initiative will contribute to these efforts by developing—alongside group members and, depending on the specific project, societal partners—an applied research agenda regarding spatial, economic, and political change in either the port of Rotterdam and / or its environs, or another port city in the Netherlands. For more information on the initiative, see: https://www.portcityfutures.nl

There are two internships available through the project

1. Port City Futures
Will do research regarding the underlying and potentially shared values of actors in the Rotterdam port city region—citizens, port authority, the municipality(ies)—in dialogue with core group members.

2. WaterHeritage Network
Will carry out research among people who used to work in Dutch water management, in collaboration with the Stichting WaterHeritage, in order to inform the latter’s preservation work.

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