Centre of Expertise Just City

Viewing every challenge in the city through the lens of equity

Amsterdam has been changing for 750 years. The developments of recent years make it a city in which not everyone feels they can thrive. Basic facilities such as housing, education, healthcare, public spaces and a liveable climate are under pressure. We all feel it but how can we recognise and acknowledge that lack of equity? And how can we develop the knowledge, skills, methods and practices to deal with every challenge in the city as viewed through the lens of equity.

Many of today's crises require fundamental societal changes and raise questions about fairness, justice and equity. We want to be able to tackle these issues better, together with our students, residents and everyone who makes the city what it is.

A City for Everyone

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) has deep roots in Amsterdam and strives to be a reflection of the city. That is why we want to contribute to the ambition of the city belonging to everyone. At the Centre of Expertise, we are working on this by:

  • Conducting research on equity in different areas, in which we map different perspectives on the subject.
  • Developing methods to incorporate equity into decision-making and policy-making.
  • Developing skills to deal with conflicting perceptions and outcomes.

We do not do this alone, but in collaboration with residents, knowledge institutions, social organisations, administrators, the business community and our students. Read more about our partners, networks and opportunities to work with us here.

Working for equity in different ways

An equitable, just city is not easy to define and may be different for everyone. It is precisely from this basis that essential questions arise that can best be addressed with knowledge about equity. We can support issues with concrete tools on how to achieve genuine equity and fairness in society. We look at spatial equity, social and cultural equity, climate or environmental equity and political equity.

What are we going to tackle?

  1. We question the unequal distribution of (basic) facilities and basic human rights, such as housing, public spaces, well-being, cultural expression, safety and free space (also physical).
  2. We work together on stimulating city-making, new forms of organisation and democratic renewal. Examples of this include participation, commons, neighbourhood-oriented work and learning together.
  3. We amplify voices that do not always get heard. For us, this is about diversity, inclusion and social justice. About gathering and sharing stories, whether or not they’re supported by data, categories and checklists.
  4. And we want to create space for more radical changes or questions. We encourage rethinking: shifting the paradigm. We are open to experimenting and to ideas for exploring new forms of equity and how to deal with the lack thereof. For example, think of distributive justice, digital equity or fair language.

The neighbourhood as a starting point

What we do, we do at locations in the city, in the neighbourhood and with each other in the places where equity and fairness are at stake. Think about it. Why do people in one neighbourhood live 7 years longer than in another? And how can we change that?

We also focus on places where change is already visible. Where people work together based on shared hope and involvement, for example in cooperatives, refuges or a joint business investment zone. What can these places and ways of working mean for others?

Published by  Just City 10 January 2024