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Power to the People: Activism and Grassroots Organising

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Although we appear to be witnessing a rise in protests across the globe, activism and collective action have been prevalent throughout human history. Ever since top-down institutions have developed in our societies, bottom-up alternatives and challenges have sprung up in opposition. In this course we will explore these citizen and group-led bottom-up initiatives, as they oppose existing institutional arrangements, and provide alternative perspectives. These initiatives range from protest movements (contentious politics) and self-organised communities (prefigurative politics) to informal security arrangements and also advocacy work.

  • Dates, tuition, and deadlines
    Mode of instruction: On-campus (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 10 July - Thursday 28 July  2022*
    Housing dates: Saturday 9 July - Friday 29 July 2022*
    Academic fees: €1650* read more about what is included in the fees.
    Housing fees: €550-600* and a €75 refundable deposit. Housing is optional. Read more about university-organised accomodation.
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admission deadline: Tuesday 1 February 2022. Applications will be processed throughout the year on a rolling basis.
    Regular admission deadline: Friday 1 April 2022
    Who is this programme for?                                                                                                                                                                                                                               For current university students (Bachelor and Master) in the arts and social sciences with an interest in political science, urban studies, sociology, anthropology, and social movements over time. Working professionals seeking continuing education in the field are also welcome to apply.

    *Dates and prices are tentative and will be finalised by 1 December.  

  • Programme description

    In this three week programme, participants will examine bottom-up initiatives ranging from protest movements to self-organised communities as they to disrupt established top-down institutional control, or propose alternatives to it. Examples will be drawn from around the world, with focus on local organisations and movements in Amsterdam's (recent) past and present.

    The cases we will explore are often grounded in - though not limited to - the city of Amsterdam: squatters’ movement, LGBTQ activism, a self-organised community of undocumented people, a project on alternative (Black) history, an advocacy organisation for sex workers’ rights, and more. The thread throughout the course are the dynamics between people and institutions, viewed from the former’s perspective to recenter narrative attention on people themselves. 

    The course starts with a thorough overview of social movement theory and work on collective action, as well as a brief introduction to state formation. Subsequently, we will offer methodological tools to study bottom-up initiatives, after which we will combine the theories and methods to zoom-in on a the range of case studies. 

  • Academic directors

    This information is being updated for summer 2022 and will be finalised by 1 December.

  • Explore our community

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam? Follow us on social media and join our summer community. Get a feel for our summer school vibe and our academic and social community, and learn about studying with us through the eyes of past summer school students. 

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Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July