Urban Housing, Equity & Social Justice
Adequate Housing from a Human Rights and Gender Perspective

Study programme

The access to adequate housing is a perpetual global challenge and a process often tainted by political, social and economic exclusion and injustice. This learning track offers the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the main principles of adequate housing provision and apply them in assessing existing policies. Students will learn how to devise the best possible mechanisms that foster accessible, affordable, available, acceptable and adaptable housing. 

The Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which offers students the opportunity to assess the provision of housing in relation to equity and socio-spatial justice. From the housing perspective, the specialisation will define equity as the role that policies and institutional frameworks have when recognising people’s needs for housing and ensuring these needs are met in accordance with their particular circumstances. Social justice is concerned with ensuring that housing is universally considered a basic need and a human right. It strives to help realise housing rights and evaluate the redistribution of benefits including access to adequate housing within society.

Key topics within the track include: inequality, informality and injustice, equitable access to housing, affordable housing, housing needs and settlement planning, migration, rights and development-based approaches to housing. These topics are then assessed against issues including urban poverty, gender inequality and gentrification so that students may assess the role of public, private, market and society actors plays in the provision of housing in relation to social equity and gender. The result equips students with the ability to apply of different assessment tools such as stakeholder analysis, housing needs assessment and climate change adaptation strategies in housing to answer urban housing issues.

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  • At the end of the course participants should be able to:

    • Understand how the housing sector works from a governance and economic point of view.
    • Analyse how formal and informal housing processes influence inequity and injustice in urban areas by:
      • Understanding formal housing policies, including  the paradigm shift in housing policies, the concepts related to the current paradigm and the criticism of the current paradigm in relationship to the housing challenge; and
      • Understanding informal housing processes in response to dysfunctional official policies. 
    • Apply and analyse the principles of adequate housing, namely availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability in housing policies and approaches.
    • Critically reflect on the application of the principles of housing availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability for realizing adequate housing and housing rights.
    • Evaluate to what extent current approaches to formal and informal housing address the housing challenge in relation to the provision of adequate housing, equity and socio-spatial justice (i.e. housing justice).

How is your year organized?

In the first and second block, the programme shares courses on urban theory, governance, policy, planning and public-private partnerships, and local government finance and investment with the other specialization tracks. However, student’s assignments within the course modules, as well as the action planning workshop, are always track-specific. In the third block of the programme, courses will only be track-specific and the student will be able to take an elective course. In the fourth block of the programme students will strengthen their research skills through research methods courses and workshops and write their Master’s thesis on a topic relevant to their specialization track. Some example research topics are listed below. Other topics can also be accepted if approved by the coordinators of the specialization track and the thesis supervisor.

    • Coping with Development-induced displacement and resettlement: An analysis of spatial transformation of restoring livelihood in a case of Gopalganj resettlement project in Bangladesh
    • The role of freedom of choice within the Baan Mankong program: The case of Kaen Nahkon community’s relocation
    • Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

      • With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

      • This course will discuss the efforts of governments, often undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders, to deliberately intervene in and influence, steer and guide the development process of cities. 

      • Local governments have a key role in the planning and execution of investments and preparation of fundable projects. In some countries, local governments have become increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers, which have been shrinking over time in part because of the fiscal constraints. Moreover, investment decisions are at the core of any development strategy. All these and many other aspects of financial investments are addressed in this course.

      • The Action planning Workshop incorporates the concepts learned during the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public-Private Partnerships (UGPPP) module in a practical, one-week exercise conducted in cooperation with local stakeholders in the city of Rotterdam.

    • Block 3 - January to April

      • This module looks at trends and paradigm changes in housing policies, with special focus on the Global South. It looks into the different housing and land policy approaches that are necessary for making housing accessible and affordable for all.  Through the understanding of people’s housing needs the primary objective of housing policies is achieved. Participants therefore have the opportunity to present the current housing policy situation in their own context and reflect on the challenges ahead regarding the provision of affordable housing for those in need.

      • This module goes deeper into the issues of housing affordability by looking at the relationship between the housing sector and the economy. The operating principles of housing demand and supply, in both formal and informal markets, are discussed. Based on these sessions, the module continues by exploring some conventional and less-conventional (government) interventions in the housing market by looking at selected housing and land-based finance instruments that are aimed at increasing housing affordability for the urban poor.

      • In this module participants will develop knowledge on socio-spatial justice and related theories. A series of lectures address topics such as social justice and inequality, spatial justice, gentrification and gender in housing. The module introduces in detail the theoretical framework developed by the UHES research team regarding adequate housing. This framework links socio-spatial justice to housing justice and argues that the latter can only be achieved as long as the five principles of adequate housing are fulfilled.  These principles provides an analytical tool to evaluate housing policies and approaches. We call them the 5 A’s principles of adequate housing, namely Availability, Accessibility, Affordability, Acceptability and Adaptability.

      • This module introduces sustainable human settlement-making principles and their performance qualities. These principles are universal and can be applied to e.g. inner city revitalization strategies, new housing projects and slum upgrading interventions. The module continues with the pressing need to plan settlements that are resilient to climate change. It discusses circular economy and energy efficiency in housing, as well as the different climate change adaptation strategies adopted by the housing sector in different contexts.

      • This module provides insights into the different conventional and non-conventional policy approaches and responses to housing across the globe, particularly in the context of urbanization processes driven by informal urban growth. Various preventive and remedial housing policies are critically assessed and discussed. Special attention is devoted to the provision of housing for specific (vulnerable) groups and the need to translate housing polices into approaches that are equitable, just and responsive to people’s housing needs, . Throughout the module, presentation of case studies provides participants with the opportunity to critically assess housing interventions and their outcomes in practice.

      • Choose from: 

        • Cities and migration
        • Understanding international urban policy: SDGs and the NUA
        • GIS methods for urban research
        • Gender in urban theory, practice, and research
        • Inclusive smart cities
        • Urban policy analysis
    • Block 4 - April to September

      • TBA

      • TBA

      • The research process for the thesis is divided into three main steps:
        • The research proposal
        • Data collection and data preparation
        • Data analysis and thesis writing

        Fuller description TBA.