independent school for the city


What is the Independent School for the City’s goal?
The Independent School for the City is not a regular school, but aims to be a sanctuary, a learning community, open to everyone who is involved with the city. The School develops activities in which (future) professionals are confronted with the complexity and contradictions of the contemporary city. Taking Rotterdam as a pars-pro-toto, we want to reveal the invisible realities of the city, to go beyond the wishful thinking and the marketing that so often disguises what a city is really about. Ultimately our goal is to train a group of critical urbanists that knows how to deal with the major spatial issues that will dominate the city in the near future.

Who is the Independent School for the City for?
The School is intended for everyone who feels comfortable with the job description ‘Urbanist’. Participants of the school are already qualified and/or have a track record in in spatial and urban studies such as architecture, urbanism and planning, architectural history, sociology, anthropology, political and cultural studies, art or media. We welcome young professionals as well a those with years of experience.

Are all your activities focused on Rotterdam?
The Independent School for the City sees Rotterdam as a test case for major cities of the world. It is the perfect place to explore the spatial challenges that contemporary cities face. The perfect place to analyse them, to learn to understand them and subsequently formulate ideas to make cities better. To think about the spatial, cultural and social aspects of migration, the necessary adaptation to climate change, the reinvention of democracy, and the consequences of economic growth and/or recession. The Independent School for The City wants to be just as complex, useful and stubborn as the city in which it originated. The Independent School does not defend professional, commercial or political interests and does not do city marketing. Ultimately, the Independent School provides a platform to face the challenges of the city with an open mind, without window dressing.

How many people can take part in the School’s activities?
Due to corona measures we can temporarily only host a maximum of 15 participants in each studio. Admission for the one and two week studio's is on a first come, first serve basis. Afterwards you’ll be placed on a waiting list. our Dirty Old Town programme follows a different application procedure, but also has a maximum of 15 participants.

What does the Independent School for the City offer?
The Independent School for the City is a school for ‘urbanism’. It is not a design course but borrows skills and methods from different disciplines such as sociology, economics, history, anthropology, as well as urban planning and architecture; everything that helps to understand and improve the city. The Independent School for the City does not have a fixed curriculum that one has to follow from A to Z, but offers a flexible framework of activities, which is adapted and tuned to current events every year. We offer stand-alone workshops, masterclasses, studios and other educational activities that vary in duration from one week to three months.

Is the school accredited? / Do I get credits when I participate in the School's programme?
The Independent School for the City is deliberately unaccredited. This means you don’t get credits for participating in our educational activities. The unaccredited and independent position allows us to be be more critical, experiment more, and reach a different audience than the established institutions and accredited schools.

How can I apply for the School’s activities?
You can register for the one and two-week educational studio’s directly through our Stager account or by sending an email to info[@] Admission for these studio’s is on a first come, first serve basis. In order to apply for our intensive 12-week Dirty Old Town Programme, you are required to send your CV (max 2mb) and examples of previous work (max 8mb/5 pages). Admission for this programma is based on these documents.  

What language is spoken in the Independent School?
All courses are in English, so a competency in both spoken and written English is required.

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