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Leiden Municipality Challenge: Citizen Science and The Most Sustainable Kilometre


Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes. For the latest updates regarding coronavirus, please check this link.

Topics & Disciplines: Citizen Science; Science & Society; Interdisciplinary research.
Skills: (Interdisciplinary) research methods; Community collaboration; Presenting

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) challenge aimed at talented bachelor’s and master’s students. Admission will be based on your academic background and motivation.

There are 25 places available for this class.


In this Impact Challenge, you will work on making Leiden a more sustainable city. You will conduct research in collaboration with local people, culminating in a series of practical recommendations to the city.

Redesigning the city for a sustainable future is a major challenge for cities. The city of Leiden wants to meet this challenge head-on. It aims to redesign the area around Leiden Central Station to make it the Most Sustainable Kilometre of the Netherlands by 2025. This is a complex project, as more than 70.000 people traverse the area around the station every day. Yet 22 public and private partners have already committed to the project.

Topics like air quality, mobility, green spaces and waste management are central to this project. But how do they apply to the context of Leiden? And what are the needs and interest of residents?

In this course, you will work in teams with a coach (a scientist at Leiden University) on one of the themes proposed within the Most Sustainable Kilometre-project. Each team will focus on a different theme and perform a citizen science project that will lead to practical recommendations for the city of Leiden.

You will learn more about the links between science and society: how can society inform research and how can research support societal developments? You will develop and conduct a research study related to a sustainability topic, involving stakeholders throughout the entire research process. At the end of the course you will develop practical recommendations and present your findings towards relevant target audiences (municipality, residents, community members, depending on the topic).

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • be able to analyse and map problems/ questions/ situations in society;

  • be able to develop research that addresses societal issues;

  • be able to disseminate research results to different stakeholders;

  • know what citizen science is;

  • know how citizen science can create a link between society and science;

  • be able to collaborate with different stakeholders including (local) government, policy makers, citizens, societal organisations;

  • be able to perform interdisciplinary research;

  • apply creativity, originality, social concern.

Programme and timetable:

Meetings are sceduled on Wednesdays 17:15-19:00. Please keep the other Wednesdays available for individual work and group collaboration.

Part 0:
Session 1: November 17, 2021
Session 2: November 24, 2021
General skills

Part I:
Session 3: December 1, 2021
Analyzing the problem

Part II:
Session 4: January 12, 2022
Formulate a research questions

Part III:
Session 5: February 9, 2022
Developing research methods

Part IV:
Session 6: March 9, 2022
Collecting data

Part V:
Session 7: May 4, 2022
Data analysis

Part VI:
Session 8: June 1, 2022
Communicating your results
Session 9: June 29, 2022
Final presentations

Lipsius, room 123, Leiden

Reading list:

Vohland, K., Land-Zandstra, A., Ceccaroni, L., Lemmens, R., Perelló, J., Ponti, M., Samson, R., & Wagenknecht, K. (Eds.). The Science of Citizen Science. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. (Open Access)

Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 10 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 280 hours, or about 9 hours per week, on average.

  • Lectures: 8 lectures of 2 hours = 16 hours;

  • Sessions with coach: 10 sessions of 1 hour = 10 hours;

  • Independent group work: 144 hours;

  • Literature reading: approx. 30 hours;

  • Assignments & final report: 80 hours.

Assessment methods:

  • 10% Participation assessed continually through participation in meetings, lectures and group work;

  • 30% Intermediate products (problem analysis, research questions, protocol, database, data analysis);

  • 20% Presentation during final symposium;

  • 40% Final report.

Students can only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Students will be added to Brightspace page at the latest one week prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for this Impact Challenge. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:
Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 27 September up to and including Sunday 17 October 23:59 through the link (TBA) on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Impact Challenges in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the challenge.

Should you have questions regarding registration, please contact Bram Hoonhout:

Course coordinator: Dr. Anne Land-Zandstra: