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Open Programme

Rethinking Sustainable Societies: New Perspectives (EN)

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It has been almost half a century since the Brundtland report introduced the concept of sustainable development by defining it as "human societies live and meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

While academic and political thinking have already come a long way, the standard line of thought is still that economy, society and ecology need to be balanced, with economic growth coming first. 

This course takes another approach and looks at theories that take a different perspective on what a sustainable society is, or how to get there.

As the last 50 years have not brought us closer to the Brundtland report's ambitions, but ever deeper towards a climate crisis, it is time to rethink our approach and consider systemic changes. And we hope you will join us on this ride.


Mr. Mendel Giezen

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Critically reflect on the shortcomings of the current socio-economic system
  • Reflect on the relationship between society and nature in a holistic manner
  • Express their understanding of the course material both verbally and in written form
  • Analyse an environmental issue from the different perspectives presented in this course

Teaching Format

  • Lecture
  • Seminar


  • Individual Essay
  • Perusall assignments for reading
  • Presentation

Entry requirements

Open to second-year and third-year Bachelor’s students.

Study material

Literature provided in Canvas - Accessible through the UvA online library.


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Number of participants



UvA students can register from 7 June 2021 (look for code 5512SSPB6Y in SIS) until one week prior to the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at

Please note: contract students and ‘bijvak’ students cannot participate in this course.


Check the website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Open UvA Courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in September