"Society, Environment, Transportation and Space: The Dutch Experience" (SETS) is a summer course offered each year in June by the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). The course is open for students from partner universities of the University of Groningen.
In 2019, the course runs from Sunday, June 2 (arrival date in Groningen) to Friday, June 28, 2019 (departure date from Groningen). The last day of activities in the summer school is Thursday, June 27, 2019.
The aim of the summer course is to develop an understanding of the ways The Netherlands, considered by many as "The Gateway to Europe", deals with economic, environmental and settlement challenges. These challenges are to be placed in the context of increasing levels of globalization, the expected effects of the changing climate on water management and flood protection systems, as well as sustainability concerns related to increasing levels of mobility in general and car usage and car ridership in particular – all of which seem to exercise even stronger impacts on the population of one of the most densely populated countries of the world. This understanding of Dutch spatial-economic problems and the Dutch experience of planning policies implemented to deal with these problems consequently challenges participants to reflect on the economic, environmental and planning issues in their home country.
There are many possible ways to define 'planning' – for example, economic planning (including regional economic development), spatial planning (including housing, settlement planning and transportation planning), and environmental planning (including water management). Also, many possible approaches to the study of planning exist – the approach adopted in this course is problem oriented; planning is thus seen as a problem solving orientation. Two different fields of planning are highlighted in the course. First, the Dutch history, successes, failures and future challenges of water management (flood protection, water quality), specifically in the light of the expected consequences of rising sea levels and changing annual precipitation distributions for The Netherlands. At present, 23.9% of the Netherlands lies below sea level; these low-lying areas are the home to 60% of the Dutch population, or 10 million people. A second focus will be on intensive land-use planning or 'compact city policy' as a successful instrument to counteract sprawl and enabling very high levels of bicycle participation. An in-depth acquaintance with bicycle infrastructure in the city of Groningen is included in the course program.
The summer course "Society, Environment, Transportation and Space: The Dutch Experiences" (SETS) is also a showcase of the topics taught and researched at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. These include, but are not limited to, sustainable urban design, bicycle planning and usage, climate change/water management, resilience, compact city policies, social housing and social inclusion, healthification of space, transportation planning, labour market inequalities and policies, sustainable governance, wellbeing, place-based approaches and entrepreneurship. For a full overview of research topics and projects at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, see the website of the Urban and Regional Studies Institute of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences.