For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

CUS Videos

Centre for Urban Studies

  • CUS Urban Dialogue #4: A Wellbeing Index for Amsterdam | 23 February 2021 | by Nicky Pouw and Hebe Verrest
    A Wellbeing Index for Amsterdam
    Currently, the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most important indicator of the performance of the economy and employment. However, this indicator says little about what economic growth or decline means for our society. Moreover, it stimulates an urban economy in which more growth instead of human wellbeing is central. Even in periods of growth (as well as in decline), inequality has been increasing for decades.

    The assumption that economic growth automatically has positive consequences for all kinds of groups in society has not proven true for years. To pursue an economy in which the wellbeing of everyone is the goal, we need to rethink our economy, governing frameworks and other measuring ‘tools’ that monitor the development of a wider range of indicators. These indicators need to be integrally connected to the municipal budgets and instruments. If not, alternative indicators will not be used in the daily practice of urban policy and planning. To that end, this projects aims to develop a wellbeing index – and an accompanying “dashboard” that can be used to guide and monitor policy. It is embedded in an integrated trade-off framework and new vision of the economy. More specifically, it aims to develop indicators (at the level of households, individuals, neighbourhoods and the city) that are in line with daily practice and urban policy, audit institutions and citizen perceptions, and; provides a broader set of indicators for government, businesses and civil society to look ahead and back.


    Dr. N.R.M. (Nicky) Pouw

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

    Dr. H.J.L.M. (Hebe) Verrest

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

    Ms J.E.M. (Jennifer) van Beek MSc

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Dep. Human Geography, Planning & International Development Studies

  • CUS Urban Dialogue #3: EU Sustainable Urbanization Practices | 26 January 2021 | by David Evers
    EU Sustainable Urbanization Practices
    In the third edition of the Urban Dialogue Series, David Evers presented the ESPON project ‘Sustainable Urbanization Practices in European Regions’ (SUPER). This project sought to measure land use changes in Europe and provide recommendations on how to make this more sustainable.

    It used mixed methods for this: quantitative analyses of land cover data for 2000-2018, land-allocation modelling for the 2050 scenarios, surveys to collect examples of interventions and their effects, and eleven in-depth case studies to understand land development practices. In addition to the evidence base, the project also produced a Guide to sustainable urbanization for policymakers, which is now being applied in Lithuania and Croatia. Finally, SUPER wishes to reframe the European debate through its use of concepts and terminology: using ‘urbanization’ instead of ‘land take’ and by viewing urban form as a continuum from compact to diffuse rather than (not) sprawl.

  • Urban Movie Screening: Americaville (2020) | 11 December, 2021 | by Adam James Smith
    Urban Movie Screening: Americaville (2020)
    Hidden among the mountains north of Beijing, a Wild West-themed gated community promises to deliver the American dream to its several thousand Chinese residents. In Americaville, Annie Liu escapes China’s increasingly uninhabitable capital city to pursue happiness, freedom, romance, and spiritual fulfilment in the town; only to find the American idyll harder to attain than what was promised to her. A documentary about Chinese suburbanisation and the move back to the countryside. Tonight we'll speak about this and the documentary with a.o. director Adam Smith James.

    In Americaville, we spend an eventful 2 years in Jackson Hole with characters who set out to live their interpretation of the American dream, only to find it fraught with unexpected complications. After widespread criticism from the Chinese media and feeling pressure from new breeds of nationalism radiating out from both the Chinese and American governments, the community becomes split between those who cling to the American dream and those who seek to reclaim their Chinese national identity within this idyll.

    About the speakers

    Adam James Smith is an award-winning, US-based filmmaker originally from the United Kingdom. His films focus on the expression of identity in urban China and include The Land of Many Palaces (2015) co-directed with Song Ting, on the “ghost city” of Ordos, Inner Mongolia and his first solo-feature, Americaville (2020) on an American Wild West-themed community in Beijing’s suburbs. Adam holds degrees from Stanford and Cambridge, the latter of which he is currently an Affiliated Filmmaker at the university’s Visual Anthropology Lab.

    Tjalling Valdés Olmos is a PhD Candidate at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam (UvA). His research within the ERC-funded project ‘Rural Imaginations’ examines how the US rural is represented across popular culture, and which effects of globalization are made in/visible in these imaginations. His work specifically engages questions surrounding the politics of representation, and pays particular attention to imaginations that entail the queer rural, the black rural, and the indigenous rural. What are his observations on Americaville?

    Youqin Huang received her Ph.D. in Geography UCLA in 2001. Since then she has been a member of the Department of Geography and Planning and a Research Associate of Center for Social and Demographic Analysis (CSDA) at University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY). Her main research interests are housing, migration and urban development in China. She is interested in understanding the unprecedented market transition and its impact on Chinese people and places. Tonight we will talk with Youqin Huang about Chinese (sub)urbanization. What is happening? And what drives people to move to places like Americaville?

    Thijs Jeursen is assistant professor at the University of Utrecht. In 2019 he defended his PhD dissertation on safety & citizenship in Miami, a research based on long term ethnographic research in the city. His research focuses on policing, institutionalized racism and urban inequalities. Thijs is writing a book on vigilant citizenship, publishes articles in academic journals and writes opinion pieces for Dutch newspapers like De Volkskrant and NRC.

  • CUS Urban Dialogue #2: City Science | 24 November, 2021 | by Caroline Nevejan
    City Science
    European cities call for improved connections between science and policy as they are dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on their cities. As global urbanization continues, the role of cities in tackling today’s global challenges also grows.

    Cities call to improve the relevancy of European research for their challenges, ranging from health to climate and socioeconomic issues. An extensive report called ‘City Science for Urban Challenges’, based on the experiences of 35 cities collaborating within the European City Science Initiative, published on behalf of the City of Amsterdam and 5 leading cities, describes the needs that cities have to make better use of available research. One of the findings of the report is that public administrations and science do not always effectively collaborate.

    Cities ask for more support in translating the findings of European research into applicable solutions. Cities also have issues with the availability of data. The absence of attention in the EU for local data on COVID-19 is just one example where the lack of data is seriously impacting the possibility to make fact-based policies. This is especially important in times of crisis. The cities call for stronger supporting instruments to improve cooperation between themselves, universities and the Commission and to improve the uptake of research on the local level. Find the report here

  • CUS Urban Dialogue #1: Refugee Commoning Carescapes vs State Policies of Campization in Greece | 27 October, 2020 | by Charalampos Tsavdaroglou
    Refugee Commoning Carescapes vs State Policies of Campization in Greece
    Charalampos Tsavdaroglou and Maria Kaika bring to the fore two parallel processes concerning the refugees’ housing situation in Greece, during the covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand they critically reflect on the state policies of campization that involve hyper-isolation and neglect for refugee housing. On the other hand they explore commoning practices of self-care by refugees who claim their right to adequate housing. Contextualizing these two conflicting and interrelated processes, they propose the notion of refugees “carescapes” against state policies of fencing and marginalization.