Discovering the Dutch: Dutch Culture and Society - Track

This special track explores the question of Dutch identity by placing the history of the Netherlands and Dutch art in a wider European and transatlantic perspective.



Course Level
ECTS credits
Course location(s)
Utrecht, The Netherlands


You will be introduced to the rich cultural traditions which the Netherlands has developed from the Dutch Golden Age to the present day in artistic fields such as painting, literature, poetry and filmmaking. You will also analyse internationally debated issues in Dutch society, past and present. These include traditions of literacy, cosmopolitanism, and tolerance as well as more practical issues, including euthanasia and the internationally renowned drugs policies.

This course is devoted to four specific themes: History (1),  Art (2), Society (3) and Contemporary Issues (4).

Theme 1: Dutch Identity and History - We will start with several lectures that will give you an insight into distinctive historical periods of Dutch history. Topics to be covered include: the development of the Netherlands during the Middle Ages, the Dutch religious landscape and the prints and cartography of the Dutch Golden Age. We will make good use of the fact that the course is taught in the illustrious medieval city of Utrecht. 

Theme 2: History of Art & Architecture - Within the historical context of the preceding topics, you will be introduced to the cultural expressions and traditions that support the Dutch in their claim to international fame as a cultural nation. During this part of the course, lecturers will discuss early modern, modern and contemporary art and architecture in the Netherlands, including Land Art, touching upon famous artists such as Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Judith Leyster, Vincent van Gogh, Mondrian, Charley Toorop, Rineke Dijkstra, Iris van Herpen and others.

Theme 3: Society - During the third week, lecturers will discuss the most characteristic institutions and arrangements of Dutch society. These include 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. 

Theme 4: Contemporary Issues - This topic explores public debates in Dutch society at the beginning of the 21st century. Topics to be discussed are religious diversity and secularization, immigration and integration and Dutch traditions of cooperation. 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. 

Students go on interesting excursions throughout the Netherlands, related to the four themes. More information will be presented in the day-to-day programme, posted on this course page in February 2024. 

Target audience

The programme is open to students from all disciplines. This is a humanities / social sciences course.

Aim of the course

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

Study load

You will experience an intensive four-week programme with lectures and seminar groups during which you are expected to participate in discussions and work on assignments and group presentations.


  • Price €1550.00
  • Fee covers Course + course materials
  • Housing fee: €800
  • Housing provider: Utrecht Summer School

Additional information

The housing costs do not include a Utrecht Summer School sleeping bag. This is a separate product on the invoice. If you wish to bring your own bedding, please deselect or remove the sleeping bag from your order.