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Over the years, the IIS has completed a number of projects and gained and shared a lot of experience in the field of interdisciplinary educational development. On this page, a number of our "best practices" can be found: a collection of projects that we have worked on in the past and that have been successful.
  • Curriculum design

    Bachelor's programme in Future Planet Studies

    Future Planet Studies is all about the future and sustainability. What does our life on earth look like in the short term and longer term? Can we humans continue in the same way as we do now and continue to organise and use the earth as we do now? Should we try to combat climate change, or should we learn to deal with it as effectively as possible? How do we stimulate the production and use of sustainable energy? How do we ensure that there is enough food and drinking water for the growing world population? These and other complex issues are central to Future Planet Studies.

    Bachelor's programme in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE)

    This programme is the initiative of three faculties of the UvA: the Faculty of Economics and Business, the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Faculty of Law. PPLE was partly realised in collaboration with the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS). The programme, which has been operational since 2014, links political science, psychology, law and economics together, and is unique in the Netherlands.

    How does bad news affect the psychological state of important players in an economy, and thus the economy itself? Is the government allowed to violate the privacy of individuals for the sake of national security? What is the most effective way to achieve better working conditions in, for example, the Asian clothing industry? Dealing with major social issues requires a critical and solution-oriented analysis from different perspectives. In PPLE, political science, psychology, law and economics are fully entwined in order to solve such issues.

    Copyright: Liesbeth Dingemans
    The students get a broad basis and then choose a specialisation. This leads to a broad perspective and specialised knowledge", according to Edgar du Perron, former dean of the Faculty of Law and one of the initiators. "The business community, the government and social organisations require broadly educated people: professionals with thorough knowledge of various topics. Prof. Edgar du Perron, Dean of the Faculty of Law and one of the initiators of PPLE

    Du Perron continues: "PPLE is unique in the Netherlands. Several Anglo-Saxon universities already have similar programmes. Many political leaders received such education. For example, the former British Prime Minister David Cameron studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Oxford." A distinctive feature of PPLE from an international perspective is that law is also part of the programme.

    The programme is internationally oriented and taught in English. Almost 50% of the students have a non-Dutch nationality. The programme is small-scaled and intensive: the students are given their own space on Roeterseiland and follow intensive schooling in small groups, under the supervision of tutors. In addition, PPLE has a talent development programme, in which students receive workshops and training from influential people from the business world and the government.

  • Education modules

    Dynamic range of interdisciplinary electives

    Each semester, the IIS offers a range of interdisciplinary electives, available to all UvA students. The IIS tries to address relevant issues with stimulating and challenging topics. Some examples of courses from the 1st semester of the 2022-2023 academic year are:

    • Circular Economy
    • Degrowth
    • The Eternal Pursuit of Happiness
    • Rethinking Sustainable Societies: New Perspectives

    Courses within the Bachelor's programmes of the IIS

    Below are some examples of teaching modules in which the teaching methods developed by the IIS are applied successfully:

  • UvA course: Placemaking

    Since 2017, the University of Amsterdam offers the course "Placemaking: relay race for city makers" as an interdisciplinary elective course for Bachelor's students from all disciplines.

    During this course, students analyse their own campus and other areas. Afterwards, they engage in dialogues with scientists, local residents, government and organisations, and use their scientific knowledge to improve the areas together.

    'Placemaking' was expanded and is now offered at the following places:

    • Science Park
    • Roeterseiland
    • University Quarter
    Drs. K. (Katusha) Sol

    For questions about Placemaking, please contact Katusha

  • The Pressure Cooker: Design Thinking

    Based on the desire of students and the professional community to bridge the gap between science and society, the IIS developed the Pressure Cooker. This intensive programme takes several days and is often used as a work method within a course. The aim is to get students to take a step into the field of work outside of the university, and thus close the gap between academia and society. 

    Within the Pressure Cooker, students tackle real, contemporary challenges based on the Design Thinking method. The Pressure Cooker can be either on-campus or online, and has successfully been implemented in numerous courses, in every year of study, throughout and beyond the UvA. Read more about the Pressure Cooker Design Thinking

  • National Interdisciplinary Educational Conference

    Although we see many innovative initiatives throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, interdisciplinary education has not yet become a part of regular higher education. To fully integrate knowledge from different disciplines and gain a fuller understanding of our complex society in transition, we need a new educational approach. That is why the IIS has built an active interdisciplinary education network in the Netherlands (and the rest of the world) to join forces and define the standards of Interdisciplinary Education together.

    This resulted in organising the first National Interdisciplinary Education (NIE) conference in 2017 for all academic and applied universities in the Netherlands and Belgium. The conference takes place annually at a different Dutch university. For more information, visit the website

  • Tesla minor

    Graduates are expected to be able to bridge the gap between academia, business, government, and social organisations. The challenge is to let students apply their theoretical knowledge in practice from the start of their academic education. From this point of view, the IIS developed the so-called Tesla minor. This programme (30 ECTS) has been available since 2013 for master students of science faculties (both at UvA and other universities). During the minor, students work on a complex challenge for a company or organisation. This allows the students to apply their scientific skills and academic background to a project at the intersection of science, business, and society. The students learn how to manage a project, communicate effectively in different situations, and create value in a non-scientific environment. Read more about the Tesla minor.

  • Bachelor's programme: Computational Social Science

    The new bachelor's programme Computational Social Science started in September 2022. Inter- and transdisciplinarity play a major role in the study. As an interdisciplinary educational development institute, we were closely involved in the development of the curriculum, where a different approach was chosen: no 8-week courses but semesters with real-life projects in which students work together with each other and with external stakeholders to shape transitions in society. We are proud that staff from different faculties, together with our educational developers, have realised such an ambitious and relevant bachelor's programme as Computational Social Science. In the coming years, our focus is on scaling up this type of transition education because every student should have the opportunity to make the world a little better!

    For more information:

    Visit the programme's information page.

    Drs. S.M. (Silke) van Beekum

    For questions about Computational Social Science, please contact Silke