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As part of the UvA-wide theme-based collaboration programme, nine midsize projects and 12 seed grants have been awarded. This marks an important step in the UvA’s journey towards realising its ambition of contributing to science and to addressing complex societal issues.

Theme-based collaboration

The theme-based collaboration programme invites scholars to formulate research questions on socially relevant themes at the intersection of disciplines and faculties – and subsequently to incorporate these questions into their teaching. This programme plays an important role in realising the ambitions in UvA’s Strategic Plan in the field of collaboration and societal impact.

Theme-based collaboration focuses on 4 important societal themes regarding which the UvA has a wealth of relevant expertise: ‘responsible digital transformations’, ‘fair and resilient societies’, ‘sustainable prosperity’ and ‘healthy future’.

9 midsize projects awarded

In April 2023, the Executive Board gave the green light for 9 midsize projects. These projects build on existing research partnerships between UvA scholars from various faculties. The UvA project team also collaborates with non-academic parties, enabling these projects to generate interest in society and funding from external sources.

12 new seed grants

The themes’ steering committees have also awarded 12 new seed grants. These grants enable UvA scholars from different faculties to collaborate on small-scale, innovative interdisciplinary research projects or to prepare grant proposals.

These midsize and seed grant projects contribute to science while tackling societal challenges related to the four previously mentioned themes in various ways. Below, we highlight one project for each theme to illustrate what these projects are about. Furthermore, you will also find links to the theme pages, which include brief descriptions of all awarded projects.

Featured project: data sharing through a data intermediary

What legal and technical mechanisms could enable low-risk business-to-government data sharing, while complying with stakeholder rights and interests? This is the subject of one of the projects within the theme 'responsible digital transformations'.

The researchers will look into business-to-government data sharing (‘B2G’) through a data intermediary. A data intermediary, a trusted third party with a bespoke data governance regime, can potentially help overcome data sharing disincentives and strengthen stakeholder confidence in B2G data sharing.

Copyright: UvA
The success or failure of B2G in public domains directly impacts municipalities across the EU, and, most importantly, their citizens. By design, the project considers a data intermediary’s legal compliance and technical validity as well as its societal relevance at facilitating B2G, both at municipality and EU level. Dr. Heleen Janssen, project lead Data sharing through a data intermediary

The project team consists of researchers from the faculties of Law and Science. Among other partners, the municipality of Amsterdam also invests in this project, in cash as well as in kind.

Learn more about this research project

Other awarded ‘responsible digital transformations’ projects

Data sharing through a data intermediary is not the only awarded project for this theme. Other awarded projects are:

  • Personalized sign language learning at scale: ‘Een Gebarenstrand aan de Taalzee’
  • The digitalisation of illicit urban economies
  • Sustainable privacy-enhanced data
  • Synthetic data for responsible digital transformation to reduce animal testing and enhance new medical treatment uptake: an application in acute ischemic stroke

Visit the webpage about responsible, digital transformations to learn more about these projects.

Featured project: energy labels for ecologically sustainable digital services: a technological, behavioural, and legal perspective

The environmental impact of digital services in the Netherlands is substantial: data centres consume three times more energy than the national railway company. Through behavioural interventions, law, and policy changes, this project aims to achieve significant savings in CO2 emissions. With an interdisciplinary approach that explores the real-world energy consumption, the researchers aim to reduce the ecological footprint of digital services.

Copyright: UvA
If we want to conduct behavioural economic experiments in context of this project, we must do this in a real-world setting. Therefore, we plan to create a microcosmic setup of the continuum that will provide real feedback to subjects in our trials. These experiments will enable us to test all our hypotheses realistically. Dr. Anuj Pathania, project lead Energy labels for ecologically sustainable digital services

The interdisciplinary team exists of researchers from the faculties of Law, Economics and Business, and Science.

Learn more about this research project

Other awarded ‘sustainable prosperity’ projects

Energy labels for ecologically sustainable digital services is not the only awarded project for this theme. Other awarded projects are:

  • Algae for circular economy: enhancing yield by solar spectral shaping
  • Science in and with Society: reducing emissions of Textile Microplastics in the Netherlands
  • Investigating the regulation of environmental sustainability in global supply chains through big data and modelling

Visit the webpage about sustainable prosperity to learn more about these projects.

Featured project: identifying and safeguarding the normative foundations of democracy

Understanding why democratic decay happens and how it can be prevented, is of major societal relevance. Despite growing attention to democratic backsliding, we know less about the informal foundations of democracy. This project will provide new insights on how we can make democracy more resilient, by studying democratic norms among citizens and elites in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Copyright: FdR
In the past two decades, declines in democracy have affected all regions and many countries in the world over, including long-established democracies. With this project we aim to provide a better understanding of why this is happening and what can be done to prevent it. We focus on adherence to informal democratic norms among citizens and political elites, because the health of democracy critically depends on it. Yet precisely these norms have been challenged in recent years. Assistant Professor Nik de Boer, project lead Identifying and safeguarding the normative foundations of democracy

The research team consists of scholars in law, communication, anthropology, European studies, political science, sociology and history. They will collaborate with various partners, such as the Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, the European Democracy Hub, and the Centre for Policy Research.

Learn more about this research project

Other awarded ‘fair and resilient societies’ projects

Identifying and safeguarding the normative foundations of democracy is not the only awarded project for this theme. Other awarded projects are:

  • Measuring what matters: addressing urban marginality in Amsterdam through a wellbeing economy lens
  • (Ethnic) Representation in media and technology – why scientific insights matter
  • Digital health for all: how to reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing through improving access and quality of digital care for vulnerable populations, like (undocumented) migrants
  • Successful undocumented migrants: making do in the Dutch economy

Visit the webpage about fair and resilient societies to learn more about these projects.

Featured project: re-authoring meat consumption narratives - combining historical, cultural and public health perspectives

Reducing meat intake has clear and undisputed benefits for climate, population health and animal welfare. However, this is challenging. For many people it is hard to imagine a predominantly plant-based diet becoming the norm. The aim of this project is suggesting new narratives surrounding food and eating, and learning from best practices in past and present. Ultimately this can contribute to new societal norms and ways of (thinking about) eating meat, and thereby to healthy sustainable diets for human society and the planet as a whole.

Copyright: Mariëlle van Opbergen
Everyone has their own idea about what it means to eat meat, and meat plays an important part in our current food system. In this project we truly combine disciplines to understand and change the way people, and society as a whole, think about eating meat. We will push the boundaries by talking directly to the public in various ways, including a museum exhibition. Dr. Mary Nicolaou, project lead Re-authoring meat consumption narratives

This project is a collaboration between researchers from the Humanities, Social and Behavioural, and Medical faculties. It harnesses the diverging areas of expertise to understand the predominant role of meat in past and contemporary diets.

Learn more about this research project

Other awarded ‘healthy future’ projects

Re-authoring meat consumption narratives is not the only awarded project for this theme. Other awarded projects are:

  • Breaking the transgenerational cycle of mental health problems through parental ACE-sensitive parenting interventions
  • Distorted transmission: AIDS, minority stress and understanding Dutch (male) homosexual minorities’ collective past
  • Timing and Health (TIMINGHEALTH): how families with young children deal with time pressures
  • A planetary food commons for healthy and sustainable diets
  • The ORAHabit-study: addressing knowledge gaps in oral health interventions
  • ArtiC: Art in Care - aesthetic configurations, impact and spaces of care

Visit the webpage about healthy future to learn more about these projects.


Do you have a question about theme-based collaboration? Then please contact Emmelie Kamsteeg.