Graduate School of Social Sciences

Social Movements and Social Change

Urban struggles are a regular facet of daily life, and Amsterdam has been a hotbed for social change in recent history. Students will learn about the tactics and strategies of urban social movements in articulating a collectivity's interests and claims. But how do movements form, and (how) have they been successful in transforming our way of life?

Programme at a glance

Academic dates: 30 June - 18 July 2019
Housing dates: 28 June - 19 July 2019
Academic fee: € 1575
Housing fee: € 500 and € 75 deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.
Credits: 6 European Credits
Who is this programme for? For current university students (Bachelors) in the arts and social sciences with an interest in urban studies broadly, sociology, anthropology, and social movements over time. Master's students and working professionals are also welcome to apply if they are seeking a theoretical basis.
Academic director: Freek Janssens
Early application deadline: 10 January 2019
Regular application deadline: 1 April 2019


Programme description

In this three week programme, students will learn about the tactics and strategies of (urban) social movements, researching and articulating a collectivity's interests and claims. In particular, students will learn how to critically apply social movement theory to explain the successes and/or failures of protest and resistance in particular social contexts. Participants will examine different forms of protest and resistance, with a special focus on Amsterdam.

This programme will turn to important moments in Amsterdam's recent history to examine urban struggles in depth. Participants will learn about the squatter and LGBT movements of the 70s and 80s as an important, contemproary, point of departure. Later in the programme, we will examine the occupy movement (as it occured globally and in the Netherlands), and the various food-related protest movements that are emerging in Amsterdam today. Apart from developing a thorough theoretical understanding of classical explanatory frameworks within the field of urban sociology, students will also gain practical research skills by conducting small-scale qualitative research on a current urban social movement in the Netherlands.

This programme will be divided into three themes from which to examine the topic of protest and resistance, including relevant weekly excursions in Amsterdam and the Netherlands to highlight past and ongoing social movements. We will begin each week from classical approaches, and critically engage with theories at hand. During the middle of the week, guest lecturers and a full-day excursion to a relevant site will help participants understand the complexity of the issues at stake. At the end of each week, participants will collect their findings and record them to build on our "own", better version of the theoretical frameworks that we encounter throughout the programme in a day-long seminar session.

Study load

The programme schedule from Monday to Thursday includes:

  • Morning lecture (2.5 hours)
  • Lunch break (1 hour; provided by the University)  
  • Afternoon workshop (2.5 hours; includes film screenings, debates, case-studies, and city excursions).
  • On Fridays, participants will conduct independent research.

Weeks will be structured on a daily basis: on Mondays, we will do close-readings of a classic text regarding the social movement at hand. On Tuesdays, we will hear from guest lecturers and experts, and visit important sites in Amsterdam and the Netherlands on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, we will collect our ideas, critically examine the framework of the social movements that we study, and build our own innovative approach for understanding urban protest and resistance.

Credit Transfer

As a Summer Institute student you receive a participation certificate with an official seal from the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

Students who wish to earn credits receive an official transcript stating the courses taken, credits earned and grades obtained. The programme is the equivalent of a 6 European Credits (or 3 American credits) module. Students are responsible for ensuring that their home university will accept the credits and final credit conversions need to be made by the home university. If you have questions about credit transfer, or need more information on the programme for your home university's administration, please email us at


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6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction
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Published by  GSSS Summer Programmes Office