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OPEN CALL: BRIN-LDE Academy on The Smart, Sustainable, and Healthy City in Post COVID-19 Indonesia

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has acted as a tipping-point, reminding us all of the pivotal role played by cities and their strategic position in an era of increasing uncertainty and complexity. That said, cities are not only the locus where the multiple impacts of COVID-19 have been most severe, but they also increasingly have become a fertile ground for a multitude of interventions that can be (re)configured and deployed to achieve a more sustainable future. One important lesson gleaned from this global pandemic is that cities with more sustainable and resilience capacities (no matter how these concepts are defined) have handled the crisis much better, so far.

In Indonesia, cities are increasingly becoming the pulse of life for most of its population. Based on the latest census (2020), it was recorded that about 57% of Indonesia's population already lives in urban areas. This percentage is predicted to continue to increase to about 67% by 2035. In this context of an urbanizing Indonesia, cities have emerged as probably the most dynamic spatial fabric. Not only do we find so-called megacities and metropolitan areas under constant change, other smaller urban areas are thriving. Meanwhile, the country's drive towards decentralization, that has initiated since the early 2000s, has proven to provide greater room for local actors to manoeuvre and steer their own fate, and in aiming to make their cities to become competitive and attractive.

Collaborations on urban challenges

While these urban dynamics have brought numerous positive trends and developments, cities also continue to be arenas of crisis and confrontations. As the influx of people continues also due to strong market incentives, cities often have proven uncontrollable in accommodating each and everyone. Crumbling infrastructure, segregation and widening socio-economic gaps, massive land-use conversion turning vacant and fertile lands into construction areas, increased production of greenhouse gas emission, and rising incidence or simply rising health issues, to name but a few of the often-unintended externalities that result from urban dynamics and from their unique spatial patterns, size, and location.

Born from these urban environments, innovative and apt solutions are also likely to be found in these environments. Understanding of place identity and space-based challenges is key to designing future solutions. 

The 2022 Academy is co-organised by Leiden, Delft, Erasmus Universities (The LDE Alliance) from the Netherlands and the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN). Aim of this five day programme is co-creation in the field of teaching and research on sustainable urbanisation. It also aims to facilitate and foster international research collaboration and to nurture academic capacity for those researchers studying urban transitions in the context of a developing country where changes are particularly pressing: Indonesia, one of the most rapidly urbanising nations in the world.

We welcome papers based on the following sub-themes.


Smart cities and the digital transition

One of the most prominent global megatrends has been the recent omnipresence of digital technologies that run and supervise all facets of urban life. The era of the smart city has definitely arrived and it has changed the way cities are organized accordingly, including some and excluding others from the digital dream. This panel seeks to understand how the introduction of digital technology such as big data dashboards, algorithmic surveillance but also open source and bottom-up tactic technologies have intensely reconfigured cities as socio-technical systems. It elaborates how the idea and practice of the smart city has penetrated the everyday (individual and social) life of Indonesian citizens and how they have variously responded and made use of the affordances of the digital transition.

Health in the cities

Globally, the percentage of people living in cities is ever-growing. The urban population faces several major issues, including poverty, lack of access to to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services, poor sewerage and the risk of infectious diseases, including zoonotic ones, as magnified by slum residences. The high socio economic segment residing in urban areas suffers increasingly from non-communicable diseases related to unhealthy diet/nutrition, sedentary lifestyle and exposure to altered biodiversity. Therefore, along with air pollution, the risk of respiratory diseases, cardiometabolic diseases and many cancers are concentrated in urban centers, calling for alternative preventive and health style interventions and addressing the (urban) social determinants of health. Lastly, the rising stressors in cities can lead to poor mental health, which needs attention. Taken together the epidemiological transition in health that takes places in an urban centre is posing pressure on the caring capacity of cities, exacerbating existing public health problems.

Sustainable cities, energy, and water management

Cities and metropolitan areas are the power houses of economic growth but on the other hand are also the largest greenhouse emission producers, solid waste generators, and resource consumers vis-a-vis more rural compatriots. This panel seeks to understand how rapid urban development, as occurs in Indonesia, has exacerbated environmental problems linked with unsustainable land use, transport, housing, waste, water, and energy management. The ecological footprints of cities go even far beyond their urban boundaries to include neighbouring forests, agricultural areas, waters, and other non-urban surfaces, all of which are consumed to supply their residents. Climate chage has complicated the environmental challenges faced by cities in turn massively threatening the livelihood of its inhabitants. Poor inhabitants not surprisingly are the most vulnerable of group and first affected by a variety of natural disasters. This panel also aims to seek means to achieve more sustainable trajectories for future urban development, parallel with the need to counteract climate change and by replacing traditional energy sources such as coal and oil with more sustainable alternatives. 

Urban diversity and heritage

Diversity and inclusivity are key challenges of our time, and critical prerequisites of a healthy and sustainable urbanisation. United Nations' SDG 11 ("Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable") acknowledges these interconnections for cities worldwide. One means to make oneself today a home in the city is by properly incorporating various (windows on) the past, thus doing justice to a wide range of cultural religious or ethnic traditions that come together in and because of the city, particularly in coastal and port cities. This panel aims to analyse how local communities harness diversity and inclusivity by resorting to a sheer range of urban histories and heritage: from architecture, monuments, to oral traditions and material objects. Celebrations of the past may help voice interest otherwise little heard and thus further add to urban diversity, but heritage projects may equally well be imposed top down, thoroughly commercialised and meant to silence others. We invite original work that explains the various faces of heritage politics, and how both state-run and grassroots initiatives may help add to urban diversity and prepare for better urban futures.

Open call

The BRIN-LDE Academy is aimed towards Indonesian students, PhD candidates and new researchers. During the course they will already write preliminary research papers on the urban challenges based on the above-mentioned sub-themes.

You can send your expression of interest by submitting PDF documents of your extended abstract or paper and curriculum vitae for review.

Papers accepted include but not limited to research articles based on primary and secondary data and literature review including knowledge gaps, conceptual models, proposed tool/methods, etc.

Subsidies available for Indonesian students. Leiden students should contact their study advisor or click here to send us inquiries.

Important dates

29 July 2022 Deadline for extended abstract submission

12 August 2022 Notification of accepted extended abstracts

14 October 2022 Full paper submission deadline

31 October-4November 2022 BRIN-LDE Academy programme in South Tangerang City, Banten Province, Indonesia


Click here for more info or reach us via info@universiteitleiden.id.

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