9 September 2015

Maarten Hajer appointed Faculty Professor of Urban Futures at Utrecht University

The Executive Board of Utrecht University has appointed Prof. Dr Maarten Hajer as Professor of Urban Futures in the Faculty of Geosciences with effect from 1 October 2015. As Faculty Professor, Hajer will manage an ‘Urban Futures Studio’ aimed at bringing together leading academics from different disciplines at home and abroad to work in new ways on solutions to national and international urban issues.

Knowledge for policy

The future development of cities is a topical issue both in academic science and technology, as well as in politics and society. The upcoming urbanisation is one of the greatest global challenges of this century, with administrative decisions having to be made in the years ahead to ensure that future cities are stronger and more sustainable. This will require more effective cooperation between the academic world, the authorities and society at large.

Key themes include innovations in management and planning, energy issues, space, water and the environment in and around the city, and social cohesion. The Urban Futures Studio aims to develop new working methods and thus contribute to the ‘learning city’. Utrecht University hopes to make a significant contribution to the interaction between policy and science, both nationally and internationally.

The Urban Futures Studio is part of the collaboration between Utrecht University and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M) in relation to sustainability in the broadest sense.

Vision of connection

Maarten Hajer (d.o.b. 1962) will join Utrecht University in the autumn after he completes his time as the first Director of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). Hajer was educated as a political scientist and urban planner at the University of Amsterdam before obtaining his doctorate in 1993 from Oxford University.

Hajer has published many books and articles about the city and urban policy. As the Director of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, he is the chief scientific adviser to the Cabinet on urban development, the environment and nature. He has a clear vision of the city of the future and knows how to make connections between different academic disciplines and between science, politics and society. Hajer is also a member of the UN International Resource Panel (IRP).

He will be chief curator of the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam (IABR) in 2016 when the main theme will be ‘the next economy’. The layout of the city of the future will also be an important theme at this Bienniale.

Strategic research themes

Utrecht University has bundled its research into four interdisciplinary strategic areas, including Sustainability and Institutions for Open Societies. These themes focus on the transition to a society that is environmentally, economically and socially balanced. Crucial issues include 'how do we solve the growing scarcity of water and energy, worldwide and in urban areas?' and 'how do we achieve open, future-proof societies?'