Professor Bregje van Eekelen receives double appointment in Leiden-Delft-Erasmus alliance

News - 26 June 2023 - Communication

Professor Bregje van Eekelen received a second appointment at Erasmus University at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences with the teaching assignment Smart City Design - Design, Culture and Society. She already holds the chair of Design, Culture and Society at TU Delft | IDE. Van Eekelen's appointment is in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus cooperation context.

The appointment is in recognition of Bregje van Eekelen's work at the intersection of art, design and technology. She combines methods from cultural anthropology and history to understand the connection between present, past, and future. Before her appointment as professor at TU Delft in Industrial Design, Van Eekelen was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and senior researcher at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication in 2017-2018.

The Smart City Design - Design, Culture and Society chair is embedded in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities. The Centre conducts research into digitalisation, data and smart technologies in the city - for, by and with citizens and administrators. In doing so, inter- and transdisciplinary projects study the ethical, technical, social and policy-related components of these issues.

I look forward to contributing to the growth of the Centre for BOLD Cities. It is a challenge to bring technical and social sciences together. The Centre for BOLD Cities was a pioneer in this, and now a beacon where switching between many disciplines, from engineering to sociology, and from design to political economy, takes place.

― Professor Bregje van Eekelen

“One of the challenges here is how to deal with the different temporalities - for instance, the desire for rapid deployment vs. the desire to explore the problem behind the problem. Research through design can act as a hub in this - if we are willing to all step out of our comfort zone. Personally, I favour the slowdown, believing that this will ultimately save time. Hence my interest in the social history of concepts like wicked problems, urban living labs, prototypes, tests, and scenarios - concepts that help define the space available to shape the future. But at the same time, worthy of an anthropologist, I also like to engage in experiments myself." 

The inauguration took place on 22 June during the event " Op weg naar de échte slimme stad" where the new Leiden-Delft-Erasmus White Paper was also officially handed out. In the White Paper, Van Eekelen talks to artist Gill Baldwin about the role of designers and artists in the smart city.