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LDE Living (World) Heritage Cities


Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an honours elective in the Honours College programme. There are limited spots available for non honours students. Admission will be based on motivation.


With the majority of people living in cities and the number of urban dwellers increasing each day, national and international policies are directed towards stimulating livability and a sustainable future for life in the city. The origin of a large number of metropoles in the world extends way back. Their inner city follows ancient waterways and roads; buildings and other structures are original or make use of foundations of predecessors. We as modern city dwellers live in an environment that to a large extent depends on decisions made by previous generations. But modern city life constantly asks for adaptations. The internal dynamics of the city changes the appearance and functions of the city in a fast pace.

Especially in the case of World Heritage cities, these adaptations are significant. Numerous tourists, eager to experience the ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ of the place, require accommodation, food, entertainment and souvenirs. Developers are looking to buy historical buildings and convert them into hotels and tourist shops. Traffic constantly puts the old and narrow streets under pressure. Inhabitants increasingly move out of the city, into less gentrified outer zones. Slowly, the character of the city changes. While the core and buffer zones of the site were once enlisted as World Heritage because of both the integrity of the cities’ parts and authenticity of its functions, now these are exactly the elements that are under threat (with the ultimate risk of ‘de-listing’). The desire to assign World Heritage status to living cities often overshadows the awareness of the implications this would have for the city and its inhabitants. It also raises the question as to whether it is possible to find a balance between an authentic and a dynamic city life?

Course objectives

In the Honours Class ‘Living World Heritage Cities’ we will look at different issues related to (World) heritage cities. It is an explicit aim of this class to explore the historical development and heritage of cities and ask: What is ‘living heritage?’ Can studying the diversity of long-term urban traditions effectively inform design for sustainable urban futures? Who are the stakeholders and how are they involved in new developments? We will be looking at research and projects conducted all over the globe. Topics may range from Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to place-making, and from landscape biography to urban resilience.

“Living (World) Heritage Cities” aims to shed new light on these issues by combining insights, concepts and research methods from history and archaeology, geography and the social sciences, and planning and design (architecture, landscape design and urban planning).


Fridays from 15:00 to 17:00

22 February
8 March
15 March
22 March
29 March
5 April

12 April Full day excursion (with a proviso)


Faculty of Archaeology, Van Steenis building
Einsteinweg 2 2333 CC Leiden

22 February and 8 March room F102, 15 March, 22 March, 29 March and 5 April room F006
12 April: All-day excursion (with a proviso)


Preliminary programme (lectures may shift):
1) 22 February: Lecture Course introduction & Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison (Barbados) by dr. Maaike de Waal
2) 8 March: Lecture Urban Conservation and World Heritage by dr. Ana Pereira Roders
3) 15 March: Lecture Heritage and Design (not confirmed) by dr. Marie Therese van Thoor
4) 22 March: Lecture Managing Chance. Heritage Impact Assessment, a Tool for Sustainable Development by drs. Mara de Groot
5) 29 March: Lecture Living heritage and indigenous knowledge in Somaliland by dr. Sada Mire
6) 5 April: Lecture Landscape Biography (not confirmed) by Prof. dr. Jan Kolen
7) 12 April: Full day excursion by dr. Linde Egberts (destination and literature to be announced; excursion has not yet been confirmed, may be replaced by lecture or other instruction form)

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 6 lectures of 2 hours

  • Excursion: 1 excursion (day-trip): not yet confirmed.

  • Literature reading & practical work: 10 hours p/week /50 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 75 hours

Assessment method

This course demands active participation, not only during the lectures and the excursion but also during short online assignments (both group and individual assignments). During the course, we will join our forces to critically reflect on a draft article (for a peer-reviewed journal) related to the topic of the course. Through the assignments students will be asked to reflect on/critically review articles, to outline topics of special interest for our communal article based on the lectures, excursion and literature studied, to write a short text that could be used for a draft article and to review each other’s contributions.

  • 10% Participation assessed continually through participation during lectures and excursion

  • 60% Six short online assignments (10% each)

  • 30% Final assignment: creating a draft text fragment (ca. 500 words) and critically review 2 other draft text fragments

All parts must have been positively assessed in order to pass the course.

Please note: attendance is compulsory.

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

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

Reading list

Preliminary (incomplete) reading list:

  • Cameron, E., R. Engelhardt, D. Lung, A. Rogers and J. Van Den Bergh, 2012,
    *Heritage Impact Assessment of the Swiftlet Industry in Melaka and George Town: Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca And its impact on Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Property *

  • Kolen, J. and J. Renes, 2015. Landscape Biographies: Key issues. In: Kolen, J., H. Renes and R. Hermans. Landscape Biographies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 21-47.

  • Meurs, P., 2016, Heritage-based Design. TU Delft - Heritage & Architecture.

  • Mire, S., 2015, Wagar, Fertility and Phallic Stelae: Cushitic Sky-God Belief and the Site of Saint Aw-Barkhadle, Somaliland. Afr. Archaeol. Rev. 32: 93-109.

  • Mire, S., 2015, Mapping the Archaeology of Somaliland: Religion, Art, Script, Time, Urbanism, Trade and Empire. Afr. Archaeol. Rev. 32: 111-136.

  • Pereira Roders, A. and Anna Beatriz Grigolon, 2015, UNESCO TO BLAME. Reality or Easy Escape?* International Journal of Architectural Research*: 50-66.

  • Roders, A.P., 2010, Revealing the World Heritage cities and their varied natures. In: Amoeda, R., S. Lira and C. Pinheiro (eds.), Heritage and Sustainable Development: 245-253.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Tuesday November 6th until Thursday November 15th 23.59 hrs through the Honours Academy, via this link. It is not necessary to register in uSis.


Dr. Maaike de Waal


The course is likely to include a full day excursion to either Germany or Belgium. Participation is mandatory. A student contribution of 10 euro’s will be asked of all participating students to cover transportation costs. If payment of this student fee is problematic, contact the coordinator of the course at