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Honoursmodule: Loving the (Global) City


Michiel Baas

Entry requirements 

Second and Third year bachelor students participating in an honours programme.

Recommended prior knowledge


Learning Objectives

At the end of the course the student can:

  • Reflect on the complex layering and entanglement of relationships that shape urban life;
  • Cohesively argue across a wide spectrum of academic insights with regards to cities;
  • Make use of this knowledge to engage critically with related urban questions and issues.


While love and friendship are important aspects of the human life course, they are topics that are often left out of consideration when social scientists and policy makers try to determine what makes our cities “good” or “liveable.” One social factor that distinguishes cities from suburban or rural areas is the greater opportunity for turning strangers into friends or lovers, and therefore expanding beyond the most basic notions of family and clan. In this course we will explore the role of love and friendship in making the city more liveable, at the personal, transpersonal, social, economic and political levels of urban life. Using Amsterdam and nearby cities as our laboratory, we will try to understand the following: What is friendliness, and (how) is it important in daily life? Under what circumstances do strangers turn into friends or lovers? What is the role of friendship in everyday urban experience? (How) Can we design more loving cities?

We will address these questions using a transdisciplinary approach, drawing on theory and method from philosophy, anthropology, history, sociology, psychology, geography, planning, design and art. We will develop an empirical group project, investigating friendship from the perspective of different kinds of people for whom making new friends is important such as, migrants, elderly people, military veterans, teenagers, etc. Our studies will take us out into the city to locate sites of friendship: sport clubs and meet-up groups, concert halls and cafes, speed-dating events and knitting circles, and other places we identify as important for making strangers into friends.

Teaching method

This course is run as a research seminar. Students are expected to read closely, bring reading notes and questions to each meetings, and set the agenda for class discussion by active participation. Students are also expected to work in teams, collaborate, share skills, and develop strong research projects. Field trips and field work are mandatory in this course.


Final Paper and assignments.

Min/max participants



Starts in October on Tuesdays 17-20. (The schedule will be available on Datanose soon).


Registration is possible for first year and 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: Loving the (Global) City
Vorm Honoursonderwijs
Studielast 6 EC,
Voertaal Engels
Start Oktober