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Area Study Sustainability Philippines


Admission requirements

Admission after selection in October 2016. For application procedure see below, under Registration.
There are 15 available places.


The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW) and the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) of Leiden University, in cooperation with Isabela State University and the Mabuwaya Foundation in the Philippines is organizing an international, interdisciplinary course on water issues and water management in the Cagayan River basin in North East Luzon in the Philippines in January 2017. The focus of the course is on the utilization and importance of fresh water, water scarcity and super abundance, climate change and water, water and biodiversity conservation, conflicts over water and the role of communities and government in water management.

Theme: Safeguarding Water Resources and the Role of Community Management

Water is one of the most critical resources currently under threat world-wide. Developing countries in particular face complex challenges as the needs for drinking water, irrigation water and hydroelectricity grow rapidly. Water becomes increasingly scarce while its quality declines. Climate change leads to greater risks associated with floods and droughts. However, the rapidly developing global effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change increasingly offers funding mechanisms towards sustainable conservation of watersheds and water sources in developing countries.

Water supports a great variety of resources, functions and services, and in order to safeguard these for the future, sustainable management is essential yet not adequately practiced. The formulation of policies for sustainable water resource management is a complex process. Water resource management is typically associated with multiple stakeholders and a wide range of social, environmental and economic needs. Moreover, effective management of water resources is achieved through the linkage of sustainable land and water uses across the whole of a river basin crossing boundaries of different administrative units. Global institutions highly promote the participation of local communities, claiming that water resource management and development are central to sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, communities face numerous barriers in their efforts to establish sustainable water and land resources management systems. water sources and watersheds and adapt to weather-related disasters.

Course objectives

The objective of the course is to gain experience with working in an international, interdisciplinary team on a problem-oriented research assignment. Apart from gaining knowledge about water issues and water management in a developing country, students will learn practical fieldwork skills and the application of research methods and techniques.


In January 2017, 24 international students from different disciplinary backgrounds (anthropology, biology, forestry, public administration, civil engineering etc.) will conduct fieldwork in the Cagayan Valley, Philippines. Twelve of these students will be from Isabela State University and the other 15 students will participate via Leiden University. The course will consist of an introduction to water issues and water management in the Philippines by various organizations in Manila and Los Banos (among others an NGO, a government institution and an international organization). A series of lectures will be given at Isabela State University by external and academic presenters. Several field sites will be visited for an in-depth introduction to water issues (such as an irrigation project, a watershed reforestation/climate change mitigation project and a dam used for hydro-electric power generation). The students will work in couples (interdisciplinary, multi-cultural) on the development of a small field study on a water-related issue. Fieldwork will be conducted by these couples during one week. Data will be analyzed and a field report will be written and presented during a concluding workshop on water issues to which external participants (representatives of government and societal organizations working with water) will be invited.

For students participating through Leiden University, a number of meetings will be organized in which an introduction will be given on water resources and related management issues as well as on practical matters of doing fieldwork in the Philippines. Literature on the topic will be distributed and read by the students before departure. A final report will be written by the students in the Philippines. The written reports of the field studies will be compiled and printed as a booklet. A colloquium will be organized in which students will present their experiences and the outcome of their field studies.


  • Information session:
    26 September 2016 at 13.30 h in room E001 of the "Van Steenis" building (Einsteinweg nr.2 in Leiden)
    [Students who cannot attend the information session can contact Merlijn van Weerd in order to receive the presentation by e-mail.]

    • Application by e-mail not later than** 5 October **2016
  • Selection students by 11 October 2016

  • Three monthly preparatory meetings in Leiden, at the Pieter de la Court Building.

  • Theme day / excursion on Water Management in Leiden area

  • Philippines: January 2017

Mode of instruction

Preparations in the Netherlands (fall-winter 2016):

  • Introduction meeting in October

  • Theme day on Water Management: 4 study hours (half day)

  • Literature 60 pages: 10 study hours

  • Two preparatory lectures (November and December)

Philippines (January 2017):

  • Visits to institutions/projects

  • Lectures

  • Fieldwork (research proposal, filed research, data analysis and repport)

Course Load

After the selection of participants:

Preparations in the Netherlands (fall-winter 2016):

  • Introduction meeting in October: 3 study hours

  • Theme day on Water Management: 4 study hours (half day)

  • Literature 60 pages: 10 study hours

  • Workgroup Water Management (November): 3 h x 2 = 6 study hours

  • Preparation meeting (December): 4 study hours

Philippines (January 2017):

  • Visits to institutions/projects: 6 days x 8h = 48 study hours

  • Visits to projects in Luzon (Tumaunini, Penablanca, San Mariano): 4h + 8h + 8h = 20 study hours)

  • Lectures: 12 lectures x 1.5 h = 18 study hours

  • Fieldwork preparations: Workgroups 3 × 4h x 2 = 24 study hours

  • Fieldwork (6 full days + 2 days for travel and settlement): 6 × 8h x 2 = 96 study hours

  • Data analysis, writing the report, presentation (5 days/evenings): 10 h/day x 5 = 50 study hours.

Total: 280 study hours (10 ECTS)

Assessment method

  • Active participation in the meetings, lectures and fieldwork – 50 %

  • Written report (3000 – 5000 words) – 40 %

  • Presentation – 10 %


The Blackboard module of this course will be open and available to selected students after the selection procedure is completed. Blackboard will be used to spread the course related information, including the literature and time table.

Reading list

Reading list will be announced on Blackboard.


In order to have a multidisciplinary group of students a selection will be made of students who register for this course on the basis of disciplines (in case there are more than 15 students expressing an interest in participating). The preference goes out to 3rd year Bachelor students at Leiden University but if there are vacancies, students from other universities are also welcome.

Students are advised to join the information session about this course on 26 September 2016 at 13.30 h in room E001 of the "Van Steenis" building (Einsteinweg nr.2 in Leiden).
[ Students who cannot attend the information session can contact Merlijn van Weerd in order to receive the powepoint presentation by e-mail.]

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 5 October 2016. Please send a short motivation letter and your C.V., stating your academic discipline, study progress and other relevant experiences or interests,by e-mail to Prof.dr. Gerard A. Persoon at and Drs. Merlijn van Weerd at with a CC to Drs. Nina Osterhaus-Simic at .

The final selection of participants will be made by 11 October 2016.

NB: Usis-registration for this course is NOT necessary. Blackboard registration is required.


Drs. Merlijn van Weerd


  • The contribution per student for the local transport costs, accommodation and food is ca. 500 Euro (this amount is still under consideration and will be definitively announced at the information meeting). This covers about 66 % of the total costs per student. The remaining costs and all costs for the Philippine students (who are generally from poor families) is covered by Leiden University and by the Water board Rijnland. This amount of 600 Euro needs to be transferred to the bank account of Leiden University before 15 December (details follow for selected students).

  • In addition, students have to arrange and pay for their airline ticket to the Philippines, their visa (free for a stay up to 30 days, 27 Euro for stays up to 59 days), insurances (universal health insurance with World coverage, Third part liability, travel insurance) and innoculations and malaria profylaxes (depending on personal history and doctos advice). The total costs of these differs per person but is estimated to be on average 1000 Euro.