Amsterdam: Global Historical Perspectives

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Amsterdam: Global Historical Perspectives

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, History

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Learning goals are gaining knowledge about ecological, social-economic, architectural and cultural aspects of harbour and waterfront development. Learning to set up a comparative research project based on literature. Reporting on the project orally and by writing a comparative research paper.

    This seminar puts urban developments in a global perspective, starting from the case-study Amsterdam. We investigate the history of the harbour and the transformation of the waterfront of Amsterdam in a global comparative perspective in the period 1850-2000 and compare that to waterfronts of other cities. In the Golden Age of the seventeenth century, the waterfront was the commercial contactzone between land and water, and between Amsterdam and its trading partners all over the world. Over time the commercial harbours moved outwards and the relinquished space was transformed into quarters for private husing. By the late nineteenth century, during the second Golden Age, Amsterdam encapsulated the IJcanal, and the IJcanal transformed to an inner-city square. By the late twentieth century this process of urban transformation accelerated again, as all shores of the IJ, including many former commercial harbour islands, were redesigned for private housing and ‘creative industry’, like music, film, museums and art exhibition. Questions we want to answer in this seminar are: how did the harbour develop and how did the transformations of the waterfront occur both in Amsterdam and in other large cities, like Hamburg, Tokio, Singapore, London, Sydney, or Baltimore? To what extent did Amsterdam copy models, and was Amsterdam also a model for others? What was, for instance, the role of private entrepreneurs and public authorities? How could citizen participate in the transformation process? This class will contribute to your international orientation through the internationally comparative content and through experience in the international classroom, for many international students attend this course. The course includes excursions to the harbour and waterfront and to such highlights of urban design and historical icons like the EYE Institute and the National Maritime Museum.

    Seminars, excursions.

    Essay (15%), Oral presentation (20%), Research Paper (65%). 

    It is recommended to have attended the course Amsterdam. A Historical Introduction in September-October. Also recommended: a first year or level 100 course in history, art history, architectural history, or urban studies.

    This course is one of the three core modules on spatial history of the minor 'Amsterdam Urban History.' The other two are: 'Amsterdam A Historical Introduction' and 'Amsterdam: Comparing Heritage Projects'.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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