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Theme-based collaboration

The Theme-based collaboration programme invites academics to formulate new, sometimes unexpected research questions on socially relevant themes at the interface of disciplines and faculties - and to also incorporate these in teaching. This programme is an important step in realising UvA’s Strategic Plan's ambition to innovate research and teaching through collaboration, both between disciplines within the UvA and with external partners.

In a dialogue between the Executive Board, deans and the research community, four societal themes were selected, on which there is much relevant expertise within the UvA: 

  • Responsible digital transformations 

  • Fair and resilient societies 

  • Sustainable prosperity 

  • Healthy future 

On this page, you can read more about these themes and the activities we are using to make them concrete. 

Where are we now?

The programme plan was finalised at the end of October 2021. A multidisciplinary steering group was formed for each theme, which wrote an action plan in early 2022. For each theme, this action plan concretises the ambition to achieve closer collaboration between disciplines. Budgets for start-up projects were allocated in the summer of 2022 and implementation has now started. 

Now open: call for ‘Seed grants’ and ‘Midsize projects’

Budget has been made available from the programme ‘Theme-based collaboration’ for Seed grants & Midsize projects. This call for proposals is directed at interfaculty research collaborations, i.e. co-operations that go beyond the boundaries of individual faculties. The aim is to stimulate researchers to formulate research questions based on societal themes, bringing-in the outside world, as well as translating these into education. The call is open until 24 February 2023.

  • Responsible digital transformations

    This theme deals with technology and ethics of regulations, algorithms, systems and platforms, and their impact on trust, dependency and equality in society. 

    The steering group is led by Marieke de Goede (chair, dean FGw) and Peter van Tienderen (vice-chair, dean FNWI). Project leader and contact person is Christine Erb (


    For this theme, an interdisciplinary team of FMG, FGw and FNWI scientists is starting the following project:  

    Towards an AI4Society Sandbox

    'Sandboxing' is a way to mimic a secure production or user environment. Sandboxing is used to discuss, develop and test the legal, societal and ethical implications of future scenarios. The team will work on test cases in the areas of digital infrastructure, AI regulations and the impact of AI-driven applications. Together with the steering committee, they will take the first step in the design of a collaborative, interfaculty AI4Society Sandbox platform, and set up a stakeholder network consisting of researchers, students, citizens, officials and policymakers. 

    More information

    For more information on this theme and project, please visit 'Responsible digital transformations'.

  • Fair and resilient societies

    This theme focuses on promoting a fair, stable and resilient society that ensures the well-being of its citizens.  

    The steering group is led by Agneta Fischer (chair, dean FMG) and Roel Beetsma (vice-chair, dean FEB). Project leader and contact person is Christina Feray-Ceulemans ( 


    A successful call for seed grants was issued in April 2022. The steering group for this theme, with representatives from all UvA faculties, selected 10 interesting interdisciplinary and interfaculty proposals from as many as 21 applications. In summer 2022, researchers of the winning proposals started their work.  

    Topics covered include: public (mis)order, spatial (in)equality and (de)polarisation. These projects will be carried out by academics from the faculties FMG, FdR, FEB, FNWI and FGw. 


    The Fair and Resilient Societies Network Event will take place on 1 November 2022, with the aim of encouraging interdisciplinary and inter-faculty collaboration amongst researchers.

    More information 

    For more information on this theme and the selected projects, please visit 'Fair and resilient societies'.

  • Sustainable prosperity

    Sustainable prosperity 

    The Sustainable prosperity theme focuses on sustainable, climate-resilient progress by reducing the ecological footprint through behavioural change and by renewing materials and resources. 

    The steering group is led by André Nollkaemper (chair, dean FdR) and Peter van Tienderen (vice-chair, dean FNWI). Project leader and contact person is Dylan Suijker ( 


    In summer 2022, budgets were allocated to the following three interfaculty studies: 

    • Collective ownership in the Community Land Trust (FdR, FMG, FGw and FNWI): 
      Community Land Trust is an alternative vision of private land ownership that has the potential to become a tool for the city of Amsterdam to improve the welfare of its inhabitants in a sustainable way.  
    • Microplastic Emissions from Textiles in Amsterdam (FNWI, FMG and FEB):
      Washing behaviour is often overlooked as part of the ecological footprint of textiles. The aim of this project is to investigate how local behavioural changes can help reduce global pollution problems. In doing so, the team investigates how ‘citizen science’ leads to learning and engagement, and thus can encourage environmentally friendly behaviour. 
    • Reducing the environmental impact of healthcare in Amsterdam through a co-creation systems approach (UMC, FMG and FEB):  
      Healthcare has a significant environmental footprint. Within this project, one healthcare path will be mapped in detail (with a causal loop diagram), the carbon footprint will be quantified through a Life Cycle Assessment, and an Action Scales Model will be used to identify the key levers for lasting change. 

    More information 

    For more information on this theme and the selected projects, please visit 'Sustainable Prosperity'. 

  • Healthy future

    The 'healthy future' theme involves mental and physical health in relation to cultural factors, behaviour, participation in society, and the realisation of equal opportunities. 

    The steering group is led by Hans van Goudoever (chair, dean of Medicine) and Agneta Fischer (vice-chair, dean of FMG). Project leader and contact person is Jillian O’Mara (


    In summer 2022, budgets were allocated to the following projects: 

    • Stress and the intergenerational transmission of (un)healthy behaviour (FMG, FNWI, FdG/Amsterdam UMC and FGw): 
      Some families suffer from a disproportionate accumulation of mental and physical health problems, such as depression, addiction, obesity and diabetes. This project will develop a model in which the risk factors and mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of health and health behaviour within families with high cumulative risk can be identified, investigated and understood. The aim is to research effective interventions at a later stage. 
    • Towards a healthy diet for all (FdG/Amsterdam UMC, FdR, FMG): 
      Obesity is a major problem among the Amsterdam population. The aim of this project is to set up a five-year programme to better understand the drivers and barriers to accessing healthy food, and to investigate what policy solutions are needed for a healthier food environment in the city of Amsterdam. This interdisciplinary project builds on an existing collaboration with the City of Amsterdam and the GGD (public health service). 

    More information 

    For more information on this theme and the selected projects, please visit 'Healthy future'. 


Do you have a question or comment about theme-based collaboration? Or would you like to learn more about UvA’s Strategic Plan? If so, please contact the implementation team. 

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