Rivers – shaping the future of water management

    Exchange programme

    The only thing that’s constant is …? Change! Our world is changing rapidly, with climate change being one of the most prominent challenges our society is facing. In the programme Smart Water you will shape the future of water management using disruptive thinking, rapid prototyping and research through design.

    Climate change is the biggest challenge our society ever faced: More frequent extreme events are impacting coastal areas all around the world, home to an ever-growing population. Impacts range from sea level rise, coastal flooding and flash floods to droughts, water shortages and water quality issues.  

    Though climate change may be the biggest challenge, it is by far not the only one. The increasing shortage of resources shows the urgent need to develop an entirely circular society. The surge of plastics in rivers and oceans, known as the plastic soup, underlines that we need a radical change in how we use plastics in our everyday life, but also need a way to remove plastics in rivers and oceans.  

    Finding solutions for those challenges requires a different way of thinking. It requires a deep and holistic understanding of complex systems, the use of data science to support decision making, and the participation of stakeholders in the transition process.  

    This is the core of the programme Smart Water 4.0 - Shaping the Future of Water Management. In this programme students will learn system thinking and data analysis to be able to re-think the state-of-the-art and finding ways to come up with new and truly disruptive solutions. By combining the power of data, system understanding and stakeholder participation,students will be enabled to contribute solutions for the ever-growingchallenges and become a facilitator of change.  

    Facts and figures

    The programme at a glance

    Programme information

    What to expect

    About the programme

    At the start of the programme we provide you with a theoretical base in System Thinking and Data Sciences. After a few weeks we start with the research project which is at the heart of the programme. During the project we will do location based research and you will make a two week field trip with the students in your course researching and analysing the physical, technical and sociatal aspects of a river system. Based on the research you will identify an issue that you will be working on. We conclude the programme with you building a prototype for a client based on your identified issue, using rapid prototyping techniques like SCRUM. In addition you and your fellow class mates will organise an impact café in which you go deeper into future developments in the field.


    The way we work within this programme:

    The programme Smart Water is based on the concept of Research Through Design: making and creating is the core of your (research) activities and learning happens by making mistakes, discussing and reflecting on them 

    This also means that in this programme,you will not write reports. Instead, the research products you will make are for example: A short documentary (Project River 21), a working prototype (Project Smart Prototyping), a presentation (System Thinking), an interactive Python notebook (Data Sciences) or a reflection on your negotiation strategy (Smart Governance).  

    The research you will carry out takes places mainly in groups. Making mistakes is not only an option, it is an integral part of the learning process. You will not only be assessed on your final products, but also on the process and the reflection upon. 

    Type of assessment

    • Presentations
    • Reflections
    • Oral assessments



    Learning outcomes

    If you have successfully completed this exchange programme then you are able to:

    • Understand complex systems; 
    • Analyse structured and unstructured data and generate valuable information for decision makers; 
    • Use concepts as system thinking and design thinking in your research; 
    • Develop a practical solution through rapid prototyping;
    • Support stakeholders as a facilitator of change.  



    After completing your exchange programme at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, you will receive a:

    • Transcript of records
    • A certificate of attendance of the programme


    An indication of the subjects you can expect


    Where you can find us
    Foto van locatie Location


    G.J. de Jonghweg 4 - 6 3015 GG Rotterdam


    Where you can find us
    Foto van locatie Location

    RDM Rotterdam

    Heijplaatstraat 23 3089 JB Rotterdam