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Honoursmodule: Diversity: Navigating and Acting in a Cultural and Political Minefield


Dr. Machiel Keestra

Entry requirements 

  • For 2nd or 3rd year honours students only. 
  • All students must be willing to perform community service and be able to plan this flexibly in coordination with the organization where they will perform this.

Recommended prior knowledge:

Sufficient passive and active mastery of English.

Learning Objectives

After successful completion of the course students are able to:

  • recognize and describe some important concepts regarding diversity, like intersectionality, affirmative action, privilege, white innocence, color blindness, representation.
  • understand how normative and factual claims are often related to each other in this context
  • begin to apply the lessons learned in this course to new cases and thus problematizing those.
  • perform community service in a diverse environment, integrating this with the course materials and assignments
  • reflect upon some of their own personal experiences, ideas, and actions pertaining to this field
  • show a number of academic, personal and practical skills, such as discussing, writing, reflecting upon personal positions and roles, collaborating and networking.


Diversity and inclusiveness is no longer just a topic for heated debates. Citizens and students in Amsterdam, for example, are members of a 'super-diverse' community, which implies that there is no longer a significant majority group but that 150+ nationalities are living together with individuals being members of various religions, of cultural or ethnic groups, of language communities, of professional organizations, and so on. We will approach diversity from multiple perspectives, not just by discussing it but also by reflecting upon our own positions and by taking action - the latter in the form of a community service.

Diversity, taken in a socio-political and cultural sense, is a complex topic in part because it requires that we reconsider the norms and facts that we usually apply when reflecting upon history, society and human relations. This course will lay bare some of these complexities while focusing on a few specific cases, and provide participants with some theoretical or conceptual tools that they may apply to other cases.  During six sessions, we will hear various (guest) lectures while students are also encouraged to actively participate in discussions and in practical exercises that make the complex topic of diversity more tangible.

In addition to the lectures this course requires students to connect their reflections on these issues with a community service that they will perform in Amsterdam. This community service will consist of min. 60 hrs. of work each student individually performs in an NGO or project in the city. The community service must consist of services or tasks performed for a diverse group of pupils or citizens in Amsterdam - like teaching after-school classes to certain groups, or helping physically challenged citizens, etc. Some community service positions will be made available through the course but students - particularly Dutch students - are encouraged to search for a position themselves.

Class contents

  •  Lecture
  •  Seminar
  •  Fieldwork / excursion
  •  Presentation / symposium
  •  Selfstudy
  •  Work independently on project/ thesis


  • Take home essay on lectures & study materials (40 %)
  • Community service project report (40 %)
  • Presentation with integrated reflection on essay topic and community service (20 %)

Min/max participants

max. 25


Starts end of October. (Exact information will be displayed on Datanose soon.)


Registration is possible for 2nd year (of higher) students participating in an Honours programme from  June 6, 2019 10.00 till  June 11, 2019 23.00 through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS.

Placement will be at random. If there are still spots open after the application deadline, students will still be able to register.

For questions: please contact Honours-iis@uva.nl 

Honoursmodule: Diversity: Navigating and Acting in a Cultural and Political Minefield
Vorm Honoursonderwijs
Studielast 6 EC,
Voertaal Engels
Start Oktober