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Power to the People: Social Movements, Activism and Grassroots Organising

Although we are witnessing a rise in protest across the globe, social movements, activism and grassroots organizing have a long history. All forms of domination, oppression or exclusion eventually face collective contention through protest and/or bottom-up alternative structures. However, each protest wave also raises new power-related questions and discourses, introduces new action forms to contend those in power, and new forms of organization to practice internal democracy. In this course we will explore these kinds of citizen and group-led bottom-up initiatives, as they oppose existing institutional arrangements, and provide alternative perspectives.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-campus (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 3 July - Thursday 21 July 2022
    Housing dates: Friday 1 July - Friday 22 July 2022
    Academic fees: €1650 read more about what is included in the fees.
    Housing fees: €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.
  • Programme description

    This course offers (1) a critical examination of the concepts of ‘people’, ‘power’, ‘social movements and ‘activism, (2) a historical review of key movements in the last century, and through this, (3) also addresses a broad variety of contentious issues ranging from labour to gender and from globalization to migration. 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. 

    Where possible, the course will pay specific attention to the local dynamics of these social movements in the city of Amsterdam. Potential topics include 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. 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

    Dr. Christian Scholl is Assistant Professor at Maastricht University. His research focuses on urban sustainability, participatory and collaborative forms of urban planning and governance, social learning and social movements. He has published widely on these topcis, including “Two Sides of a Barricade. (Dis)order and Summit Protest in Europe” (Suny Press 2012) and ‘Out of Order. The Political Violence of Social Control in the Global Era’ (New York University Press, 2011). Over the past years, he has coordinated several transdisciplinary research projects on Urban Living Labs delivering interactive and reflexive support tools for practitioners and their experimental learning processes. These tools have been widely disseminated and well-received by a wide range of governance actors.

  • 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