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Plus honours module: Doing diversity: changing issues that matter


Dr. Machiel Keestra and guest lecturers.

Entry requirements 

Fixton women's Simpson Jessica Simpson Jessica Fixton Simpson women's Fixton Jessica women's Sufficient passive and active mastery of English.


After successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. describe some important concepts regarding diversity, like intersectionality, affirmative action, privilege, white innocence, color blindness, representation.
  2. explain how normative and factual claims are often related to each other in this context
  3. reflect upon some of their own personal experience and ideas pertaining to this field
  4. begin to apply the lessons learned in this course to new cases and thus problematizing those.
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Course description:

Diversity, taken in a socio-political and cultural sense, is a complex topic in part because it requires that we reconsider the norms and facts that we usually apply when reflecting upon history, society and human relations. This course will lay bare some of these complexities while focusing on a few specific cases, and provide participants with some theoretical or conceptual tools that they may apply to other cases. During six sessions, we will hear various guest lecturers while students are also encouraged to actively participate in discussions and practical exercises that make the complex topic of diversity more tangible.


In the Netherlands as in many other countries, heated debates have focused on issues concerning social and cultural diversity. These debates have at times even divided communities and families. The children’s festival figure black Pete, for example, has been interpreted by some as part of the cultural heritage of Dutch colonial and slavery history and has even been the subject of multiple demonstrations and court cases. The lack of progress of gender equality in the higher ranks of universities and business board rooms has led to the reconsideration of enforcable quota: a fixed percentage of seats that must be offered to women. The opposition against such issues has been the subject of social scientific and historical analyses, in which notions like ‘white privilege’, ‘intersectionality’, ‘color blindness’, ‘white innocence’ and others figure.

According to some, though, these notions accuse all of us of being – perhaps unconsciously – racist or sexist due to our shared history of oppression, racism, colonialism and so on. Some argue that we should not judge historical events or symbols according to our current moral standards. Others contend that the enforced reparation of historical inequalities lead to injustices nowadays.

In other words, a complex mix of historical, social, political and moral arguments make it difficult for most of us to navigate the muddled terrains of ‘diversity’. This lecture series aims to bring some clarity here, by presenting several of the positions regarding some of the central topics. In addition to presentations and discussions, participants will also be invited to self-reflect about their position(s) in these contexts.


UvA-students can register themself from 7 December 2017 (look for code 5512DIVE3Y in SIS) until a week before the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering please contact:

Other parties, such as contract students, students from other institutions or UvA employees, who are interested can register from November 2017 via the application form on Datanose.

Teaching methods

Lectures, discussions.

Simpson women's Fixton Jessica Fixton Simpson Fixton Jessica women's women's Simpson Jessica Timetable

Lecture dates and locations can also be found on DatanoseJessica Simpson women's Fixton Jessica Jessica Fixton Simpson Fixton women's women's Simpson

Course materials

Literature made available through Blackboard


See here.   

Simpson women's women's Jessica Simpson Simpson Jessica Jessica Fixton Fixton Fixton women's Exam dates

16 May, 11 July (resit)

Final exam with closed and open (essay) questions.


Contact hours: 2 hours per week

Short-term, open uva courses
Conditions for admission
3 ECTS, 6 weeks
Language of instruction
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