The summer school is connected to an event that ‘turns around’ the concept of traditional academic conferences, in the sense that participants will not present the outcomes of their academic work but engage in data generation and exchange of insights during the event. To this purpose, we will first seek the stories behind innovative appropriations of public space, identify related dilemmas and (re)formulate research questions, together with local participants, such as citizens, their organisations, municipal officials, developers with and without property. This way, participants in the Summer School will become acquainted with Participatory Action Research methodologies or similar learning approaches endorsing ‘Research for Social Impact’. During the event we will further explore the challenges local dwellers are confronted with, and which interventions they envision as potentially enriching for the city. As part of the Summer School, we will seek connections between the PhD research projects and the identified challenges and engage in on-the-spot conversations and explorations. The resulting city guide will enable all participants to experience how local people ‘live their city’ on a daily basis, and explore places and routes that present alternative narratives of the city. Through the thematic tours organized during the event, targeted interventions and exercises that have been designed with local participants will provide opportunities for debate and reflection. How do these interventions ‘perform the place’ and alter/disrupt/improve relationships? The combination of activities will shed light on questions of ownership and empowerment, as well as setting the scene for deepening and expanding our alternative city guide – one that raises opportunities for future explorations and revisions. Here public space is playground in a broad sense – we learn and reflect by seeking connections with locally active people and designed objects not just as ‘quick’ passers-by, but as observers and participants, and by the generation of data during the conference.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion participants are expected to be able to:

  1. Assess the possibilities and pitfalls of participatory action research methodologies and question dominant problematizations
  2. Critically gauge the possibilities of applying such methodologies in the setting of a conference
  3. Evaluate the relationships between their PhD projects with societal questions relating to public space
  4. Translate the emerging questions to requirements for data generation and linkages with their own projects


  1. Participate in plenary opening session with keynote by Colin McFarlane (‘Learning the City’);
  2. Conduct data generation activities on second day and participate in neighbourhood forums. Themes: Continuing thematic tours, with neighbourhood forums and local performances      
    Themes: 1. The city of mass tourism; 2. The circular city (of water, food, energy flows); 3. The ludic city (of play, sports, experimentation); 4. Urban densification and the informal city; 5. The city of alternative ecologies. 
  3. Participate in reflections on third day

Indication of hours:

Active participation in the event (all activities, 3 days)
Submission of abstract
1 reflection day and preparation of submission to special issue

Target group and min/max number of participants:

WASS: aim for 15 participants

PhD candidates and staff members involved in projects relating to urban public space and its dilemmas and who are aiming to strongly develop the societal impact of their research projects through participatory learning methodologies that encourage the ownership and empowerment of communities, of the research activities and outcomes that they make part of.


Send an email to, indicating your name, your address, the chair group to which you are affiliated, and your research school.

Course fee

WASS, PE&RC and WIMEK/SENSE PhDs with TSP 100 euro
a) for all other PhD candidates & b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools 200 euro

However, if you have registered and do not show up at the 4-day masterclass, you will be charged a no-show fee of €25.

From all participants, we ask submission of an abstract of max 300 words before 18th May, including a short bio, preference for and potential contribution to one of the thematic tours.

For more information:

Assumed prior knowledge:

Some knowledge and experience with action research methodologies, ethnographic methods and/or affinity with transdisciplinary teamwork is desirable.


Self-evaluation after the workshop and a group evaluation of relevance of methodology and generated data for local participants and the PhD candidates own research projects.


The plenary sessions will take place at the AMS institute:
Mauritskade 62, 1092 AD Amsterdam (tbc, venue on one of the days might be changed into Pakhuis)
For the thematic tours (see description above) – we will use bicycles and be on the move.

Cancellation conditions:

The participants can cancel their registration free of charge 1 month before the course starts. A cancellation fee of 100% applies if a participant cancels his/her registration less than 1 month prior to the start of the course.

The organisers have the right to cancel the course no later than one month before the planned course start date in the case that the number of registrations does not reach the minimum.

The participants will be notified of any changes at their e-mail addresses.