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The eternal pursuit of happiness

The eternal pursuit of happiness - philosophy, science and technology of wellbeing

In this course we will take an interdisciplinary look at the eternal pursuit of happiness on the basis of four themes: (1) modern self; (2) modern society; (3) east and west and (4) meaning. The main focus of the course will be on developments in the 20th and 21st century, as they relate most directly to current issues about happiness and well-being.

First, we will dive into the history of the modern self and modern society. When did we begin to consider ourselves as unique individuals? Where did our quest for authenticity and self-actualization start? What is the impact of technology on our behaviour and well-being?

Then, we will compare eastern and western approaches to alleviate our suffering. Eastern philosophies and religions claim to have many ways for improving happiness and well-being. Western psychologists and psychiatrists have developed different therapies to treat psychopathology. In the last decades east and west have found common ground in the western world: meditation and mindfulness have conquered psychotherapy, coaching, management and the workplace.

Finally, we will look at meaning as it is one of the most fundamental compasses in life. Without meaning it’s really hard to construct a fulfilling live. Every person has its own personal values, which are – sometimes hidden – embedded in a personal narrative. Becoming aware of your most fundamental values, (re)writing your personal narrative and changing your daily behaviour can open interesting new ways to improve the quality of life.

Recommended prior knowledge



  • dhr. drs. M.A. (Max) van der Linden

Teaching format



See Datanose.

Course materials

Articles on Canvas.


See website.

Number of participants



UvA students

  • UvA-students can register themselves from June 11, (look for code 5512TEPH6Y in SIS) until a week before the start of the course. 

Register in SIS (UvA students only)

Other parties

  • Other parties, such as contract students, UvA staff or students from other institutions, interested can register from June 11, through the registration form.

If you have any trouble while registering please contact: 

The eternal pursuit of happiness
Mode Short-term, open uva courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in October