Student spotlight: Annabel Nyole

Welcome to the Student Spotlight series! In these interviews, we will showcase the students representing each of the four Master tracks, part of the MSc in Urban Management and Development. We introduce you to Annabel Nyole from Kenya, a participant in the Urban Digital Transformation & Innovation Master track. 

Annabel's background

As an urban planner and community organiser from Kenya, Annabel is passionate about placemaking and fostering sustainable local economies in cities through technological innovation. "I enjoy connecting ideas, people & places." 

After completing her bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, she gained valuable experience working in various roles within the Built Environment Sector. As a programme coordinator at Public Space Network, Annabel led the successful Changing Faces Competition, transforming neglected spaces into vibrant green areas and earning international recognition. Additionally, she organized the Nairobi Prop-Tech Hackathon to address urban challenges using data-driven solutions, and the Women in Real Estate Covid Competition. 

“We shape technology, and technology shapes us, creating a continuous feedback loop.”

"Learning changed my perception"

Learning from her studies, Annabel found a fascinating two-way street: "We shape technology, and technology shapes us, creating a continuous feedback loop". While digital innovations hold great promise in addressing urban challenges and enhancing efficiency, their deployment warrants careful consideration. There are unforeseen and undisclosed environmental costs and societal issues like the "digital divide" that excludes those lacking access or resources. 

"In urban development, achieving sustainable cities hinges on finding a balance between the benefits and trade-offs associated with new technologies, always keeping our specific context in mind."

Teaching methods

Annable finds Bloom's Taxonomy to be one of the most effective learning tools at IHS. This framework goes beyond mere memorization, encouraging students to engage in higher-order thinking. By analyzing course content, students can draw logical conclusions, establish connections between ideas, and formulate critiques, which stimulates meaningful debate. "For example, we explored inclusivity within smart cities, rigorously challenging each other's arguments. This process fostered a deeper understanding of the concepts and their real-world applications."

Exploring Rotterdam

Annabel admires Rotterdam's innovative and flexible approach to crafting spaces that foster a sense of belonging. In 2023, she participated in the City at Eye Level training by STIPO in Amsterdam, which offered valuable insights into designing cities prioritising the human experience. She also eagerly anticipates engaging in the 2024 edition of the 'Placemaking Week Europe 2024' , set to take place in Rotterdam this year. "For those wondering what ‘Placemaking’ means, similar to turning a house into a home, it can be described as turning a ‘space’ into a ‘place’. It involves residents participating in activities that create a sense of ownership of the public spaces around them", shared Annabel. 

"Rotterdam has a very innovative and flexible approach to creating spaces where people feel a sense of belonging." 

Future plans

When asked about her future plans, Annabel shared: "The skills and knowledge gained at IHS will allow me to contribute to urban development projects that are not only data-driven and economically sound, but also foster inclusive and sustainable cities."

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