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The UvA Create a Course Challenge

Special Edition: Future Change

Are you driven to contribute to change and bridge the gap between science and society? Globally, we are currently facing many complex challenges. Think of climate change, inequality, digitalisation and a healthy future. Change is essential here. Change in how we interact with each other and the world, change in our thinking and technological change. Do you have a great idea for a new course that could contribute to the problem you have always wanted to solve? Join the special edition of the Create a Course Challenge and develop your course idea together with the curriculum experts of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS).

Think along with us about education at the UvA

With this special edition of the UvA Create a Course Challenge, students are challenged to be creative and think about how education can be future-proof, challenging and meaningful. What topics and teaching methods should be tackled and what role should students and teachers play? Think along with us about how education at the institute, and within the UvA, can contribute to future change. This is your chance to make your vision of education a reality. Who knows – next year, you may be a student assistant in your own course!

Students without borders

Crossing boundaries is what this challenge is all about: not just between students and lecturers and between faculties and disciplines, but also between academia and society.

Special Edition: Future Change 

The world is changing and so is education. The future demands innovative solutions to current challenges. Therefore, for this special edition of the challenge, the focus is on contributing to the changes our society needs. Change is a broad concept that can be considered from many different perspectives, such as technological, economic, ecological, political, social, psychological and philosophical change. When developing your course, think out of the box and across disciplines.

  • How does it work?

    The UvA Create a Course Challenge consists of four rounds. In the final round, the winner is chosen by a jury. The IIS and the winner will work together to develop the course. The challenge is open to all UvA students, Bachelor’s and Master’s alike.

    Round 1: Submit your idea

    Deadline: 10 October 2023, 9 AM (CET)

    Submit the first draft of an idea for your course below. Or take a picture of your beer coaster if you've written it down and email it to Be creative in both content and form!

    Round 2: Develop your idea

    Deadline: 1 November 2023, 9 AM (CET)

    As soon as we receive your idea, we’ll send you an Action Plan template, which you can use to further develop your idea. Which teaching methods will be used in your course? What will the students learn? Which lecturers will be involved? What study material will the students use, and how will they be assessed?

    You can choose to develop your course in Dutch or in English, depending on the language in which the course will eventually be taught. Send the completed Action Plan before the deadline of 10 October 2023 AM to the IIS at

    Round 3: Nominate your favourite idea

    Between 8 and 15 November 2023

    All UvA students and staff may vote once on their favourite course idea between 8 November 9 AM and 15 November 9 AM (Central European Time). The five ideas with the most votes will continue in the challenge and proceed to round 4. 

    Round 4: Pitch your idea to the jury

    Thursday 23 November 2023, 5 - 7 PM (CET)

    During the grand finale, the jury decides which idea they will reward with the realisation of the course. Together we will raise the glass on the winning course idea.

  • Conditions

    When developing your idea, keep in mind the following requirements and guidelines.


    • The concept of 'change' should be central; 
    • The course must be interdisciplinary in nature;
    • The course must be suited for second and third-year UvA Bachelor’s students;
    • The course must be designed for a minimum of 20 participants;
    • Number of credits: 6 ECTS;
    • The course may be either in English or Dutch.


    Your course will be assessed on the following criteria:

    • Interdisciplinarity: different academic disciplines come together. 
    • Societal relevance: the course brings the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the complex challenges our society is faced with.
    • Originality: the course has an innovative nature. 
    • Innovative teaching methods: think outside the box of lectures and tutorials.
    • Design: the learning objectives, learning activities and the way in which the learning objectives are assessed. 
    • Innovative teaching methods: think outside the box of lectures and seminars. Involving external parties or societal partners is an added advantage. 
  • Meet the finalists of 2022

    For inspiration, below are the five ideas that were in the grand finale during the last edition of the Create a Course Challenge:

    ‘Apocalypse Is Not the End of The World’  

    by Alina Ovcharova, third-year Bachelor's student in Psychology 

    In this day and age, nothing feels more certain than the coming of climate change. It seems like every year countries set sustainability goals and then fail to meet them; companies roll out new "green" products that cause more harm than good, and the doomsday clock ticks closer and closer to midnight. Five short years, and climate change will be irreversible, and then...and then what? How does one survive the Apocalypse? This is a course about deconstructing climate anxiety and nihilism, and why anyone would choose to keep going. By the end, you will be armed with practical tools to stay sane and stay hopeful, to understand who will be impacted and how, and then to fight for yourself and others. This course will say no to climate nihilism and give students tools to prepare themselves and their communities for the ever-approaching reality of climate change.  

    ‘Food Forestry: Experiencing the Future of Nature and Agriculture’  

    by Wytze Walstra & Sacha Brons, Master's students in Political Science - track Political Economy 

    How should we produce and consume food in a world where trees talk, soil fungi trade nutrients like stockbrokers and humans are a crucial part of natural ecosystems? Revolutionary insights from forest ecology, soil science, philosophy and political economy highlight the deep interconnectedness of two worlds currently separated in the Western world: nature and agriculture. Can we solve crises we face in global food systems today, such as the Dutch nitrogen crisis, with a paradigm that bridges this separation?  In this course, students experience first-hand   how   this   new   paradigm   looks   and   feels   by investigating and engaging in food forestry, a modern farming system rooted in indigenous practices that mimics natural ecosystems to produce abundant food with little to no inputs. To   personally   experience   the current paradigm   shift   and study   its   interdisciplinary consequences, students take field trips to several food forests, workshops on botanical gastronomy and classes in food ethics. 

    ‘Propaganda, Power and the Psychology of Persuasion’ 

    by Kate Shavrova, third-year Bachelor's student in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE)  

    We've all heard the term ‘fake news’, but how often do we critically examine the media we are presented with daily? In a time where communication technologies have made it easier to exploit, weaponize and disseminate ideas, information literacy is an invaluable asset.  This course aims to present a strategic overview of the origins, methodology, and effects of political propaganda. Both historical and more contemporaneous examples of propaganda will be presented, with an added option for students to collect their own empirical material to study. The proposed course will conclude with a brief section on the normative implications for the future of political propaganda in the cybernetic age. By its end, students will be able to identify, assess and counter misinformation efforts.  

    ‘Sensationalising Murder; the Phenomenon of True Crime’ 

    by Maggie O’Gorman & Sophia Hieker, third-year Bachelor's students in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE)

    The phenomenon of true crime is the trend of the decade, with new forms of media such as podcasts and documentaries highlighting the most prolific and bewildering murders. This growing interest is not just changing the media space, but highlighting the legal systems behind the cases, because as any true crime fanatic knows, it only begins with murder. This course aims to provide insight into why so many people are fascinated by these crimes and the impact this media form has. With recent cases such as Adnan Syed’s, investigated by the podcast series “Serial” being reassessed by prosecutors, highlighting the real-world impact of true crime podcasts. Through the lens of multiple disciplines such as criminology, law, media and psychology, using a variety of teaching methods such as podcasts, academic papers and the cases themselves, this course aims to break down the phenomenon of true crime.  

    ”Where do I end, and you begin?”: An Exploration of the Self’ 

    by Pika Ivana Kostanjšek & Filippo Bianchi, second-year Bachelor's students in Psychology & Sociology  

    “Where do I end, and you begin?” course is a multidisciplinary exploration of the Self through branches of psychology, sociology and philosophy. It deals with one of the most profound questions one can ask themselves: “Who am I?” The course provides building blocks for a framework of understanding the Self and its boundaries, as well as how the individual Selves merge to build a society. Besides the social sciences’ perspectives, it also delves into non-western approaches and prompts the students to connect what has been studied with what has been taught outside the walls of the scientific method. With this course, we hope the students gain clearer awareness and deeper understanding of the forces acting on themselves and on others from within and without, and the ways in which we become who we are.  

  • The Special Edition of 2021: Sustainability

    In the spring of 2021, the IIS hosted a special edition of the Create a Course Challenge with a focus on sustainability. >> Read more about the sustainability edition of the challenge here