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Sustainability, Power and Place


Admission requirements

This course is open for students of the MSc Governance of Sustainability.


‘Sustainability’ is often used as a buzzword that overlooks or even reproduces unequal power structures. These power structures are expressed through spatial dynamics and specific locations. The course Sustainability, power and place focuses on sustainability-related power issues in terms of uneven spatial developments and associated struggles, such as local protests and NIMBY-ism, green gentrification, resource extraction and waste export. This course provides students with analytical tools to critically explain uneven socio-spatial relations in various sustainability domains, including food, waste, energy and water.

Furthermore, we explore different theoretical perspectives to understand complex socio-ecological problems and how to tackle them through place-making and scalar governance strategies. Here, the course zooms in on relations between spatial-physical processes and institutional scales (with political and administrative boundaries). Students will work on specific sustainability cases to analyse, reflect on and creatively discuss environmentally just spatial strategies.

Course objectives

After this course students will be able to:

  • Explain and compare how different conceptual approaches frame socio-ecological problems in terms of power and space;

  • Explain how socio-spatial developments and struggles relate to institutional scales and sustainability governance;

  • Analyse specific sustainability challenges in terms of socio-spatial developments and inequalities;

  • Design and discuss environmentally just strategies to address socio-spatial inequalities, adopting scalar and place-based approaches;

  • Report comprehensively, convincingly and critically;

  • Demonstrate skills working collaboratively with peers and planning.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The lectures and tutorials will mostly be interactive, linking conceptual insights to hands-on exercises and group discussions.

  • Lectures and tutorials (including guest lectures, on-site visits) hours: 24 h

  • Self-study: 64 h

  • Group work: 70 h

Assessment method

  • Group work output, visual map-making and podcast (50%)

  • Duo research paper (50%)

Reading list

To be detemined.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator(s): Antonella Maiello and Shivant Jhagroe

Antonella Maiello / Shivant Jhagroe