Dutch Culture: Society and Current Issues

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
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In this course you will explore Dutch culture and identity by focusing on present-day Dutch society and its recent history. You will learn about typically Dutch phenomena such as the poldermodel, mobile flood barriers and windmills as well as their contributions to the economic success and the international orientation of the Netherlands. You will also have lectures on subjects such as religious diversity, (im)migration and secularization. One of the excursions will be to the city of The Hague where we will visit the Binnenhof; the square that forms the very heart of Dutch government.

This course is devoted to two specific themes: Society (1) and Contemporary Issues (2)

Theme 1: Society - During the first week, lecturers will discuss the most characteristic institutions and arrangements of Dutch society. This includes, the welfare state and the polder model but also the actual lay-out of the country. Since the Dutch live in a small geographical space, environmental planning and engineering have always been of vital importance. Another crucial feature of Dutch planning is water management. You will learn about the real role of the typical windmills that you can find all over the Netherlands. A trip to the Maeslantkering, part of the larger Delta Works, is included in the program.

Theme 2: Contemporary Issues - This topic explores public debates in Dutch society at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Topics discussed are religious diversity and secularization, immigration and integration and Dutch traditions of cooperation reflected in the presence of the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. You will have various lectures and seminar groups during which you are expected to participate in discussions on Dutch society and to work on assignments. There will be a full day excursion to The Hague which will include a visit to the Dutch Parliamentary building (Binnenhof).

NB: This course is part of the track 'Dutch Culture in a European Context' and track 'Discovering the Dutch: Dutch Culture and Society'

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

Course director


Course aim

This course introduces participants to the history, society and culture of the Netherlands. By studying Dutch society and culture in an international context, you will be offered an incentive to reflect anew on your own culture and society in an international atmosphere.

Study load

A minimum of: 7 lectures (120 minutes); 4 seminars (90 minutes); 1 day excursion; 1 exam; 1 certificate ceremony.


Course fee:
Course + course materials
Housing fee:

Housing through: Utrecht Summer School.

More information

Utrecht Summer School | E: info@utrechtsummerschool.nl | T: +31 30 253 4400


Application deadline: 26 July 2020