Prof.dr. M. van Ham

Professor of Urban Geography - Department of Urbanism
Chair of department of Urbanism 

Maarten van Ham has been Professor of Urban Geography at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment since 2011. In that same year he became Professor of Human Geography at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. 


“I am fascinated by the changes in cities and neighbourhoods and the impact that neighbourhood characteristics can have on people's lives. A better understanding of these characteristics are of great social importance. For instance, the debate about new build versus demolition in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. What are the consequences of mixed neighbourhoods? Are they worth investing in? I am particularly fascinated by the causes and effects of residential mobility and the impact this has on neighbourhoods. What influence do regions, neighbourhoods and residential mobility have on people's lives? 


For several years we have been investigating housing and its relationship with neighbourhoods. Most current literature concerns itself primarily with housing, ignoring the major role that neighbourhoods play in people's daily lives. How do neighbourhoods affect people? How do neighbourhoods change? How do neighbours affect each other? Much research has been carried out on neighbourhood effects, but it is not clear how important those effects are, or for whom. Does the neighbourhood shape its inhabitants or does the neighbourhood reflect its inhabitants? We know too little about neighbourhood effects, causes of segregation and neighbourhood changes. In the coming years we are going to bring some changes to this situation with, among other things, funding from an ERC-grant.

Long term data

I find it especially interesting that there are currently so many developments in the availability of data. With longitudinal data, it is possible to monitor people over a long period of time, giving us all kinds of new opportunities for research. This type of data is also being made available in more countries so that we can now make international comparisons. With longitudinal data, we can better differentiate between cause and effect and see the impact of relocation and living in certain neighbourhoods.

Van Ham studied economic geography at Utrecht University, where he obtained his PhD with honours in 2002. He worked at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University and was affiliated with the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. In 2006 he was appointed Director of the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) at the University of St Andrews for six years.
Van Ham has published widely in leading journals and has written many books on neighbourhood dynamics. He is a highly cited academic.