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Biodiversity in the City (Hortus Botanicus)


Course cancelled.

Disclaimer: this course description might be subject to changes

This summerschool is organized in collaboration with Hortus Botanicus Leiden.

Topics: Urban nature, hidden biodiversity.
Skills: Research, presenting, interviewing, interdisciplinary collaboration.
Disciplines: Biology, sociology, urban planning, citizen science, ecology, climate, soil, infrastructure, management, design, city green, biodiversity, well-being.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.

Please note: Are you a third-year student and will you graduate this summer? Please check with the education information centre of your bachelor ’s programme what the deadline is for registering your bachelor and honours grades in uSis? If this does not conflict with the schedule of the summer school, you can apply for the summer school.

Lunch at own cost, except for the first and last day of the Summerschool. There are no other costs.


Note: No preparation is required prior to the programme.

Since 2019, the Hortus has looked at wild plants in the city and has had success with the ‘Pavement Plants’ project.

Weed haters, public pickers, herbalists, storytellers, collectors, species hunters, with deep or shallow roots in the Leiden soil; they all have their own stories and opinions. How does this social network work and how can it be used to strengthen biodiversity in the city?

During this intensive summer school, you will be working with peers, Hortus colleagues and guest speakers.
This Summerschool contributes to:

Your own development:

  • You will learn more about biodiversity in the city;

  • You will get to know Leiden and its citizens in a new way;

  • You will collaborate with others in a fun, new and varied way.

Development of the Hortus:

  • You will contribute to strengthening the role of the Hortus in outreach and research;

  • You will provide the Hortus with new insights and information;

  • You will collect data for the Hortus and are a part of a ‘think thank’;

  • You will help translate the information gained in the ‘Pavement Plants’ project into the new ‘Hidden Biodiversity’ project (4-year programme that started September 2022).

Biodiversity in the city:

  • You will contribute to tolerance for unplanted greenery in the city;

  • You will contribute to increased interest, appreciation and involvement in urban nature;

  • With your input, you will strengthen the collaboration between educational partners of the Hortus, citizens of Leiden and knowledge institutions.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will: • have your own opinion on urban nature ready; • be able to explain to people why urban nature is important; • see the connection between natural processes in the city, above and below ground; • have experience in collecting data from citizens and experts; • have experience in setting up a public event in a short timeframe; • have experience making a cohesive and attractive online magazine.

Programme and timetable:

This summer school will start on Monday, July 8 and will end on Friday July 26 2024.
The course programme is subject to change.

During the first week, participants will collect data in town form experts and citizens.
During the second week, we will work in the Hortus. We will share our findings, weigh them, create structure and put concepts to paper.
During the third week, we will work towards a final product: public advice to the Hortus in the shape of a digital magazine and a science café. This advice is a valuable contribution to activities in terms of biodiversity in the city and the role the Hortus can play in this.

Week 1 Hortus Summer school

Day 1
Opening meeting Hortus.
Reception, welcome, providing materials and programme, etc.
Short introduction biomimicry in the city, discussion. What are the important topics, where and how can a botanical garden play a part?
Together, we discover three main topics: Water in the city, Heat in the city, Network: urban people and urban nature.

Inspirational lecture Biomimicry, listen and draw.

mini workshop

mini workshop botanical drawing

mini workshop observe/note

Day 2-4
Collecting information by daily:

9 AM Coffee/tea in Garden house of the Hortus (entry via Vijfde Binnenvestgracht 8);

4 PM Coffee/tea Questions and conclusion of the day.
Day programme with guided tours, short pop-up lectures, discussion, interviews.

Week 2 Hortus Summer school

Plant & human, cocreation workshop together with Friends of the Leiden Hortus.

Biodiversity around the world: urban nature from the far east in the Hortus.
Lecture and guided tour ferns/mosses/lichens: 3x 1-hour explanation based on Hortus material and an inventory visit in the neighbourhood.
Pavement plants: presentation of project, research findings so far.
Soil: care, interruption, soil life, soil networks, mushrooms.

Week 3 Hortus Summer school

Preparation of science café, presentation of findings, production of online magazine.


Leiden, Hortus Botanicus and the city.

Course load:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

Online lectures and assignments: 20 hours;
Workshops: 60 hours (attendance is mandatory);
Individual written reflection: 10 hours;
Digital magazine: 10 hours;
Final presentation: 10 hours;
Group assignment: 30 hours.

Assessment methods:

Participation and attendance (students can’t miss more than 1 session);
Individual written reflection on your personal process (pass/fail);
Personal presentation during Science café (pass/fail);
Group assignment: digital magazine (pass/fail).

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:

Important: Are you a third-year student and will you graduate this summer? Please check with the education information centre of your bachelor ’s programme what the deadline is for registering your bachelor and honours grades in uSis? If this does not conflict with the schedule of the summer school, you can apply for the summer school.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.