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Pre-University Honours Programme: Sustainable Cities

Programmes organised by the Graduate School of Social Science (including this programme) are cancelled for summer 2020 in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in following this programme in the future, please email with the programme name in the subject line and we will keep you updated on all developments in the coming months. Want to keep updated on social media and online content for summer 2020? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at the links below.

Programme at a glance

Academic dates: 19 July - 30 July 2020
Housing dates: 18 July - 31 July 2020
Academic fee: € 1300 read more about what’s included
Housing fee: € 400 for a shared room with shared facilities and € 75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.
Who is this programme for? For current high school students (must be 16+) interested in urban studies, sustainability, and the social and behavioural sciences.
Academic director: Daan Bossuyt & Afra Foli
Early application deadline: 1 February 2020
Regular application deadline: 1 April 2020
Maximum classroom size: 20 participants 

Programme description

Sustainability means satisfying the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Young people today have grown up in a world where sustainability is one of the most pressing issues. But aside from its definition, what does it really mean, and how do we implement best practices in order to ensure a livable future for ourselves and the generations that will follow?

In an urban environment, sustainability is practiced and planned for in many ways. This programme will begin by framing the topic in the varied forms that it takes within a city. We will begin with the most pressing questions of environmental sustainability, and branch out from there to discuss social and economic sustainability more broadly, and investigate key developments in these fields. Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, is the perfect place to study this topic. Over the last decade, Amsterdam and other Dutch cities have been at the forefront of sustainable development in many fields. We will use Amsterdam as a living laboratory to delve into topics such as:

  • Sustainability from the Dutch perspective: Water management, and planning for climate crisis. We will ask students to reflect on adaptation models for climate change, and discuss and share examples from their home contexts.
  • Neighbourhood transformation: From gentrification and affordability to social sustainability and ageing populations, neighbourhood change is one of the most pressing topics in urban studies today.
  • Sustainable lifestyles: How can we use not only clean technology, but also mobilize behavioural psychology to implement wide-spread change?
  • Mobility: Amsterdam is often called the cycling capital of the world, and in general, mobility is an important topic for urban studies, from cycling to public transit and car-shares.
  • Urban agriculture: We will make an excursion to Rotterdam to investigate ongoing urban agriculture projects, from rooftop farming to citizen-led initiatives.
  • Waste management: Achieving a sustainable city also requires rethinking our waste-management systems.
  • A new urban economy: (How) should an economic system be changed with sustainable principles in mind? Examples include commons, and sharing/circular economies.

This programme is designed for high school students to experience studying in a competitive, international environment at the Graduate School of Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam. The lectures and all course materials are in English. Participants in the course will develop study skills and become acquainted with learning methods that will give them an advantage as they continue their education at University.

Get in touch with us at or call +31 (0)20 525 3776.

Pre-University Honours Programme: Sustainable Cities
Mode Short-term
Credits 0 ECTS, 2 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July