Tackling Inequalities

Master Honours Programme

Are you interested in studying how different academic disciplines approach the dynamics and dimensions of social inequalities in cities? Do you want to practice with co-creating interventions for tackling inequalities in Rotterdam? Are you open to experiencing a new approach to student impact that works not just for but especially with representatives and members of communities that are affected by these inequalities? And are you curious to learn from and visit other European post-industrial cities, like Bilbao, Zagreb, Liège or Istanbul? Then apply for the 2021-2022 edition of “Tackling Inequalities”!

Tackling Inequalities is the official interdisciplinary Master Honours Programme open to applicants from all Master programmes at ESSB, ESHCC, EMC, ESE, RSM, ESHPM, ESPhil, ISS and ESLaw. The Programme is brought to you by Vital Cities & Citizens and by our partners, A.A. Van Beek Fonds, Impact at the Core and UNIC, the European University for Post-Industrial Cities. It runs from 19 January 2022 until 30 June 2022. Students who successfully complete this extra-merit Programme (equivalent of 15 EC) receive a special certificate, signed by the Rector Magnificus. 

Pressing social inequalities in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is not only home to you and your (university) life; it is also home to some of the most pressing social inequalities in The Netherlands. Marginalised groups in the city have increasingly limited and conditional access to affordable housing, health and wellbeing, government support, clean air, safe and secure work, and public and green spaces. At the same time, they are more likely to be exposed to discrimination and social exclusion, for example through education and (digital) policing systems.

The need for recognition of affected residents and local communities


However, policies and interventions that aim to reduce inequalities in Rotterdam are not always successful. Some even exacerbate inequalities or lead to further social exclusion, such as the now notorious “Rotterdamwet” and “Woonvisie”. While politics, government agencies and policy-makers play important roles in developing these policies and interventions, “we”, university researchers and students, also need to reflect on our roles. After all, we also work with ideas, preconceptions or data about problems and “societal challenges”.

And similarly, our (academic) disciplines propose—and, sometimes, impose—specific ways of thinking about interventions and their effectiveness. And finally, like in policy, academic research does not necessarily stimulate the recognition and inclusion of the expertise, knowledges and views on problems and solutions of affected residents, local communities and their bottom-up initiatives.  

So, if we want to tackle urban inequalities, we need to take critical stock of (our own) top-down attempts to solve problems and enable interventions that are based on the meaningful inclusion and recognition of affected residents.

Pay attention to Rotterdam as a “post-industrial” city

We should also pay more systematic attention to Rotterdam as a “post-industrial” city, as a city that is seeing the kind of urban transformation and regeneration that we also witness in other European cities, like Bilbao, Zagreb, Istanbul and Liège. Major and growing disparities in residents’ access to, for example, health, housing and prosperity should be understood against the backdrop of these cities’ historical developments as industrial (port) cities and of their ongoing efforts to reposition themselves as brand destination for service and platform economies, for innovation and cultural industries, for smart logistics, for mega-events and for economic visitors and investors.

That is why the 2021-2022 edition of Tackling Inequalities provides Master students with a 6-months opportunity (19 Jan 2022 – 30 June 2022) to:  

  1. Engage curiously and critically with their own and others’ practices, knowledges and assumptions about (causes of and solutions to) inequalities in Rotterdam.
  2. Learn about Rotterdam through (visiting) other post-industrial cities in Europe.
  3. Practice with adopting and embracing an interdisciplinary and collaborative mindset that gives a voice and listens to others, that acknowledges actors, knowledges and experiences that are often excluded from academic or policy practice, and that resists temptations to jump straight into top-down problem-solving mode.        

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