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Rethinking Sustainable Societies


This interdisciplinary minor allows you to rethink what a sustainable society would or should look like. By exploring new lines of thinking from different disciplines across the faculties of the UvA, it provides you with new perspectives on sustainability.

For over half a century, scientists have warned us about climate change and its potential impacts. While the Club of Rome, the Brundtland report and the IPCC reports gain a lot of attention from media and policymakers, they have not led to a clear change in terms of human impact on the health of the planet. Rockstrom et al. (2021) have shown that we are dangerously close to crossing planetary boundaries and in some instances have already gone over the threshold.

The traditional sustainability dogma of the triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit) argues that economic growth is a prerequisite for climate measures. This has functioned as an excuse for inaction for too long. The ecological modernisation perspective is in need of new perspectives that challenge the current economic and institutional models.

Rethinking Sustainable Societies


The minor covers 30 ECTS and can be completed in one semester. It includes three compulsory courses in study periods 1 and 3, and two elective courses in study period 2. 

As mentioned in the introduction, this programme aims to offer you new perspectives. But in order to do that, a thorough understanding of how we got there is also necessary. This is why the first study period offers two parallel courses. The first course, hosted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, is about new perspectives and offers insights from different disciplines on how to rethink what a sustainable society is or should be. At the same time, you will study how we actually got into this situation. The course The Climate Emergency: History of a Crisis will offer the essential historical perspective to understand how the climate crisis evolved and how science and policy responded.  

The second study period offers you a choice of two out of three courses that have a specific focus:

  • Circular Economy looks at the transition from a linear economy that uses raw resources and a lot of waste to a circular system where all the waste is reused as a prime resource so that it is no longer necessary to use raw resources. This should lead to an end to overexploitation and pollution through waste. The course is offered by the Faculty of Economics and Business.
  • The course Cities Facing Climate Change: An Urban Political Ecology Approach makes explicit the underlying power relations that have created this exploitative and inherently unequal economic and political model. It shows how the ‘construction’ of nature is both a source of power structures as well as a consequence of power structures. With a particular focus on the urban as the loci of power and capital, it addresses structural faults within the current system. This course is offered by the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
  • Modelling for Sustainability is offered by the Faculty of Science and teaches you the basics of modelling and allows you to reflect on current climate models and indicators. This course gives you a strong basis for understanding the modelling and science that drives much of the literature and predictions on climate change.  

The minor is completed with the Urban Lab in study period 3. In this course, you work on an assignment given by a societal partner. In this case, the municipality of Amsterdam will host you and provide you with a sustainability challenge. Having gained a broad palette of perspectives on the topic, you can now provide valuable input to current policymaking in the city.  

Entry requirements

This full-time 30 ECTS minor is open to students who have successfully completed the first year of a Dutch university Bachelor's programme. It is open to students from all disciplines. 

The maximum number of students in the minor programme is 60. Students enrolling in the minor are expected to follow and complete the programme in its entirety.  

Enrolment and Admission

For the academic year 2023-2024, registration was open until 29 May 2023. It is still possible to be put on the waitlist by completing the online form below.

After enrolment in the minor programme, we will register you for the relevant minor courses. To participate in the courses, you do not have to enrol in separate courses during the GLASS course registration period. You can communicate your course preferences for study period 2 in the application form. 

Contact us

For questions on the minor programme or practical matters, please contact the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) by email:

Facts & Figures
30 ECTS, 6 months
Language of instruction
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