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Nothing is more human than striving for well-being, happiness and the good life. In the past, we turned towards philosophers and Church Fathers for advice to live well. Nowadays, we tend to use science and technology in our pursuit of happiness and well-being. But how do science and technologies shape this quest for the good life? And to what extent is our modern, Western, affluent society – driven by a combination of hedonistic consumerism and individual self-actualisation – a fertile ground for this pursuit?  What are alternative ideals and practices of happiness?  

In this course, we scrutinise contemporary concepts and practices of happiness, touching upon diverse topics such as dopamine in the brain, digital well-being, Eastern and Southern philosophies of the good life, the medicalisation of (un)happiness and the disappearance of fate. Supported by guest lecturers and key experts, you will embark on a quest to understand the complex and paradoxical character of happiness and put it into practice with a personal experiment. 

Read more on the setup of the course, the personal search for happiness, the influence of digital media and the coronavirus on happiness, and the role of happiness in the bigger picture.


Sarah Weingartz.


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Entry requirements

Open for second-year and third-year Bachelor's students and other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other Dutch higher education institutions. Master's students can only participate if there are still spots available.


UvA Bachelor's students can register from 19 to 26 June 2023 in the GLASS registration rounds. Master’s students can send a short motivation to

‘Bijvak’ students and contract students can register until one week prior to the start of the course, by completing the online registration form.

If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at


Prices can be found on the IIS website.

More information

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website.

Facts & Figures
Short-term, open uva course
Language of instruction
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