The Regenerative City

Course code
Student fee
Course fee (excl. housing)
Course Level

Regeneration is quickly becoming a trend in farming, finance, ecology, urban development and social change. For cities and living (eco)systems to thrive they require the capacity to regenerate, and adapt to change. But how do we ‘do’ regeneration at the scale of landscapes, place, communities and systems? This course brings together pioneers of this way of working and offers expertise on supporting disciplines in ecology, finance, governance, economy, and community.

    How would we develop our cities and countryside such that they support all life? That question guides our action research in the ecological corridor of the Amsterdam Wester Scheg that bridges urban life and countryside between Amsterdam and the North sea. It is home to some of the lowest polders in the Netherlands, has the largest diversity of species and cultures, and has the last fertile soil of the city. Many of the great challenges of the city come together in this place. The food transition, land enclosure, climate adaptation, disadvantaged communities, to name but a few. Meanwhile the city densifies, data- and distributions centres sprawl through the land, and families and farmers are trying to find ways to make ends meet.

    Building local capacity for renewal and vitality go hand in hand with the need to navigate the increasing pressures of the global market, climate change, or social inequality. What practices do we have at our disposal to navigate these pressures and develop life affirming interventions? How do we make sense of place in its different dimensions and dynamics? What is our role and place in such complex and large challenges?

    This course gives you an approach to regenerative development, provides the tools and frameworks to navigate play based work, and offers a regenerative leadership approach for change.

    We will be weaving connections between stakeholders, deepening our understanding of place, and strengthening our community & personal leadership.


    • You are invited to take a role in leading certain activities in the course. As a community of practice we share the space of learning, and this participatory form of learning creates immediate experience in the work of regenerative practice. Working in community allows the program to embody principles and practices that are essential in Regenerative Development.

    Experience-Based Learning

    • Our approach is rooted in hands-on, place and project-based learning. We will work on places, projects and initiatives brought in by you, the participants, allowing for an integration of theory and practice that resonates with your reality. This approach also creates a rich learning environment where insights from diverse projects illuminate universal principles of regenerative development.

    Why Should You Attend?

    • The Regenerative City offers an opportunity to contribute to the creation of more resilient, sustainable, and vibrant regions and communities. This course not only offers the chance to network and collaborate with like-minded students and professionals but also provides valuable resources and tools to aid in your professional journey.

    At the end of this course you will

    • Know what makes a region flourish and where to start
    • Have a foundational understanding of frameworks and approaches to regenerative development
    • Know how to identify the right scale for intervention and regeneration (site, community, place, (bio)region)
    • Know how to understand the complex social, economic, ecological and cultural dynamics of place as a whole.
    • Know how to leverage the assets of place for its regeneration?
    • Know how to build a field of multi-sector collaboration? To see the relevance of a place’s history for its future potential.
    • Know to identify the first steps in bringing place or region alive
    • Have developed practices for personal and community leadership in regenerative work
    • Have gained a basic understanding of regenerative development processes and design
    • Have met experts on various fields necessary for regenerative development
    • Have integrated multiple ways of knowing
    • Have worked with experienced (bio)regional regeneration practitioners
    • Have learned from and experience a cooperative science, art, and urban farming community and its regional stakeholders in the Amsterdam polders
    • Have become part of a living community of practice.
    Course director
    Dr. Thieu Besselink

    Target audience

    This is an intergenerational program, blending master students and up with practitioners that work with place based development in landscapes, communities, cities, and regions. 

    • Master Students
    • PhD
    • Postdoc 
    • Practitioners: for instance government officials, consultants, Placemakers, ecosystem restoration workers, community builders, educators or other professionals that wish to work on the regeneration of place, society and self.

    Aim of the course


    Our program is committed to equipping participants with an enhanced understanding and execution of:

    1. Multi-stakeholder participatory leadership: Learn how to lead and collaborate with diverse groups, leveraging shared values for wise decision-making and collective action.
    2. Understand and Develop the Story of Place: Learn to discover and articulate the unique narrative of your region, capturing its essence and character, which becomes the foundation for community engagement and planning.
    3. Role Development: Identify and develop your role within the system and learn how to contribute most effectively to the regenerative development process.
    4. Generative Field Building: Develop the capacity to create a generative field - relationships and an environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and holistic growth, also when things get hard.
    5. Regenerative Practice: Gain knowledge about the principles of regenerative development and how to apply them in your regions to restore, renew, and revitalize.
    6. Working Bottom Up and Top Down: Understand how to effectively engage all levels of the community and the administration, facilitating an inclusive approach to development.
    7. Systems Perspective: Develop the ability to view challenges and opportunities from a systems perspective, promoting comprehensive solutions that take into account all factors and stakeholders.
    8. Leading Transitions: Acquire tools and strategies to manage change, driving successful transitions towards sustainable and resilient communities.
    9. Personal Regeneration: Foster personal growth and resilience, enabling you to navigate the challenges of leading region development while maintaining personal wellbeing.


    Course fee:
    Student fee:
    Student fee
    Fee covers
    Course + course materials + lunch
    Housing fee:
    Housing cost
    Housing provider:
    Utrecht Summer School

    Additional information

    The housing costs includes housing from Saturday 20 July until Friday 26 July 2024, plus an Utrecht Summer School sleeping bag, for you to keep. This sleeping bag also includes an inflatable pillow and matrass cover. If you wish to bring your own bedding, please contact us, so we can give you a 50 EUR discount on the housing fee. Please note that you cannot buy individual bedding items. 


    Extra application information

    After application you will be invited for an introductory intake online. Here we get to know each other, the intentions of the course and participants, and can get prepared for what is to come. 

    In preparation of the intensive week on site, we will have 4 online sessions (once a week on Wednesday 18h CET) and an assignment so that by the time we meet we share a background and the necessary knowledge to start. 

    For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

    Motivation Letter

    Contact details



    Application deadline: 
    Registration deadline
    01 April 2024