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Would you like to have a detailed overview of our various activities? Please find our 'IIS Annual review 2020-2021' below.

What can you find in this overview?

  • How we translate our Strategic Plan, aimed at shaping societal transitions, into tanglible educational projects. 
  • Our ever-changing and up-to-date list of elective courses and honours modules for UvA students and staff.
  • How we are actively involved in developing degree programmes in partnership with various faculties of the UvA.
  • and more!

The IIS Strategic Plan 2021-2026: From ideals to reality 

In the education of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, we foreground interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity. We will now continue to integrate this with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to shape societal transitions. Society is facing urgent and complex challenges, such as the development of sustainable energy supplies, accessible healthcare, a just city and inclusive digitalisation. These types of challenges are firmly embedded in existing societal structures and institutions, and demand radical changes in structural thinking and action. These radical changes, which are not easy to manage, are societal transitions and may involve system-wide resistance, inequality and instability. The IIS is developing education in which students learn to relate to and actively manage such societal transitions, in order to initiate and facilitate change processes.

Our students will soon be taking over the reins from the current generation. Many of these young people want to be leaders of a more just and sustainable world and expect their university to take the lead in this together with them (Inspiring Generations UvA 2021). The IIS will work in co-creation with students, lecturers and social institutions to broaden and deepen knowledge, skills and attitudes on complex societal issues through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary education. At the IIS, students are given tools to turn their ideals into reality.

Shaping transitions

We have launched four projects:

Honours module open to UvA, VU and AUC students
In ‘The Next Great/Small Transformation’, students will become critically and constructively familiar with tools to shape transitions. Interdisciplinary student teams will identify a societal transition challenge and develop a strategy to address it. At the same time, students are encouraged to critically evaluate the tools and suggest improvements. 

Learning Trajectory 
Dealing with and shaping social transitions requires certain knowledge, skills and attitudes. For example, connecting perspectives and directing change processes. The IIS is developing a learning trajectory ‘Shaping Transitions' which consists of several modules (including learning objectives, activities and assessment) that cover the most important aspects of shaping transitions. This learning trajectory can be used in various degree programmes. 

Building Bridges for Local-Global Challenges 
There are many issues at a global scale that have local implications, and vice versa - for example, overfishing, the spread of infectious diseases and inequality caused by digitalisation. In this IIS elective, students team up with students from European partner universities, to work together both online and offline in international project groups on connecting various perspectives. They address the global issue taking into account both local and international context(s) and inspire each other with various tangible local interventions. 

The IIS is working on a dynamic toolbox to support transition-focused education. It is a place to get informed and inspired, to find ready-to-go teaching material, to learn from and with each other and to find the route to a tailored approach and ask for help with educational development related to shaping transitions. The toolbox is being developed in co-creation with teachers, educational developers, students, external parties and other stakeholders.

Thanks to the IIS Project-based learning grant, we were able to implement the desired interdisciplinarity within the course ‘Big Questions in Time’. How can people with different disciplinary backgrounds work together in the best possible way? Which skills are needed, and how do you divide the tasks amongst one another? We enjoyed fantastic workshops by the IIS with many practical examples, which served as a great source of inspiration. We have successfully integrated various interdisciplinary work methods. Anco Lankreijer, Lecturer and Tutor, Amsterdam University College
IIS electives

Grant for innovation

With the IIS Project-based learning grant, from 2018 up to and including 2021, several UvA lecturers were given the opportunity to experiment and elaborate on their teaching ideas, in order to develop their skills in innovative project-based teaching and learning. On our website, descriptions and results of these projects are shared for your inspiration.

Student impact

Together with the Teaching & Learning Centre of the UvA, a Special Interest Learning Group was created to focus on Impact Learning, for the development of education in which students can make a tangible impact on society. Chaired by Katusha Sol, the group is working on sharing knowledge and influencing policy, with the aim of making this type of education more common practice at the UvA.


Dynamic Cookers

In addition to the traditional Pressure Cooker, in which students work on a real-life challenge using the Design Thinking method, an online and a hybrid version were developed. In the first semester of 2020, six degree programmes at various UvA faculties implemented the Pressure Cooker in their education to over 300 students.

Elective course for the entire UvA community

With the 'second COVID wave' approaching, the IIS elective Pandemic was launched in September 2020. An interdisciplinary course by definition, as insights from various disciplines, both current and historical, are necessary to interpret virus outbreaks and put them in perspective. For 14 weeks, pandemics were studied on scales ranging from cellular to global. Experts and scientists from the UvA and beyond contributed, including virologist Marion Koopmans.

Degree programmes in the making

The IIS is involved in the development of various new interdisciplinary degree programmes in an advisory, executive and/or facilitating role.

Bachelor’s programmes:

  • Humanities in Context (Faculty of Humanities) 
  • Computational Social Science (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)
  • Science & Design

Mater's programmes: 

  • Centred around Decision Making
  • Centred around Sustainability
In addition to opportunities, digitalisation also confronts us with new challenges. In the new interfaculty Bachelor's programme Computational Social Science, students are trained to develop sustainable digital interventions themselves. Thanks to the knowledge and experience of the IIS, we have developed a very daring and didactically innovative programme. The panel of assessors was charmed by 'the transdisciplinary nature of the programme, its focus on research methods and techniques and its ambition to address and solve real-world problems'. This could not have been achieved without the IIS. Eelke Heemskerk, Associate Professor in Political Science, University of Amsterdam

Contact us

Are you looking for curriculum innovation or do you have a vision for the development of an entirely new degree programme? Do you have a need for teacher professionalisation or an interesting theme for a new lecture series? Then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Drs. L. (Linda) de Greef

Programmamanager Onderwijsontwikkeling