First slide

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Acquire an intersectional understanding of the complexities and paradoxes that surround issues of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands — commonly believed to be one of the world’s most progressive and tolerant countries.

The program examines the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, class, and religion, and highlights the experiences of the growing number of postcolonial and post-migration subjects living in these intersections. Apart from looking at theories and applications of gender studies, LGBT studies and sexuality studies in activism, the program interrogates how identity is affected by gender, sexuality, race, religion, and class, both as they are experienced and as they are perceived. During the program, you will make field visits to different NGOs and organizations advocating for gender, LGBT, and sexual rights; an excursion to Morocco provides additional international perspectives on program themes.

Major topics of study include:

  • Queer and LGBT activism in the Netherlands
  • Paradoxes surrounding same-sex marriage rights
  • Feminist and sex-positive activism in the Netherlands
  • Sex and gender education in the Netherlands
  • Sex work and sex workers’ rights in the Netherlands
  • Attitudes toward gender, sexuality, race, class, and religion within postcolonial communities coming from the former Dutch colonies (Indonesia, Suriname, the Dutch Caribbean) and post-migration communities (Morocco and Turkey), as well as the gendered and sexualized perceptions of these communities

AmsterdamAmsterdam (program base)

Based in Amsterdam, this program offers rich opportunities for you to explore issues of gender and sexuality through international and intersectional lenses. Amsterdam’s wealth of community organizations focused on sexuality and gender issues allows you to get actively involved and learn from professionals, researchers, and activists. Community volunteer opportunities help you develop your learning and communicative skills when working with a local organization or community. This helps you gain access to the research subjects you want to study for your Independent Study Project as well as an inside perspective on Dutch society. 

Specialized archives and research centers

The Netherlands hosts a number of specialized archives and research centers related to the program’s themes. You will visit and make use of the International Gay and Lesbian Archive and Information Center (IHLIA) housed at the Amsterdam Public Library and the library and archive of the women’s movement in the Atria Knowledge Institute for Emancipation and Women’s History. You will also attend lectures and events at the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality (ARS-GS) at the University of Amsterdam. Scholars from the center occasionally lecture for SIT and advise students on their Independent Study Projects. You can also visit the George Mosse lectures — a series of lectures focused on LGBTQ topics — at the University of Amsterdam.

gay pride parade in AmsterdamLocal excursions

In addition to the program’s major excursion to Morocco, you will experience local excursions that include a trip to The Hague where you will visit the HIVOS international development organization, which supports women’s and LGBT groups around the world. During the visit to the Rutgers World Population Foundation in Utrecht, you will meet with professionals involved in developing sex education curriculum and programs used in the Netherlands and internationally. In Amsterdam, you will visit the Red Light District, where the Prostitution Information Center will address sex workers’ rights, and Mama Cash, the world’s oldest women’s fund that support women’s and transgender rights throughout the world.

Independent Study Project

You will spend part of the semester developing and refining your Independent Study Project (ISP) proposal. Near the end of the semester, you will devote four weeks to working on the ISP, during which time you will pursue original research on a selected topic of your interest. The ISP is conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas:

  • Life stories of female farmers in the Netherlands
  • Multicultural approaches to sex education
  • Female body image in magazines and its effect on women’s self-perception 
  • Perceptions of virginity among young lesbian women
  • The role of Afro-Surinamese women in community activism in Amsterdam Bijlmer
  • Identity and belonging among male gay Muslim migrants and refugees
  • Family life among same-sex couples


Previous college-level coursework or other preparation in sexuality and/or gender studies, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

The program includes two thematic seminars, one on LGBT, feminist, and sexuality studies and one on migration, gender, and sexuality. They are presented by academics, professionals, and grassroots activists. Lecturers represent a variety of disciplines, including women’s and gender studies, LGBT studies, migration and ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, and sexology. Students may also choose to participate in a community volunteer experience with a Dutch organization or within different communities.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies – syllabus
(GEND3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The seminar presents an interdisciplinary look at selected topics in sexuality and gender studies and activism. Topics include LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), feminist, and sex positivist activism in the Netherlands; sexuality and gender in sex education; gender education in secondary schools; paradoxes around same-sex marriage rights; and transgender issues. Students attend two thematic seminars each consisting of three modules, in which researchers, practitioners, and activists provide a broad range of perspectives on sexuality and gender in Dutch and international contexts. The lecturers represent a range of disciplines, including gender and sexuality studies, political science, sociology, anthropology, and postcolonial studies. The modules include prominent academics, professionals, and activists and are led by a module coordinator. Students also attend some of the public lectures at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), presented by the Amsterdam Research Center for Sexuality and Gender (ARC-GS), and the George Mosse Foundation. Each semester, one of the module coordinators organizes a forum in which any interested person from outside SIT Amsterdam is invited to join the students in having a public discussion with researchers and activists who are invited in the forum. Every semester the forum centers on a different, timely theme that is currently debated in the Netherlands. For the students, the forum provides an excellent opportunity to connect to researchers and activists from inside and outside academia. The course also includes a mini seminar on critical theory. This mini seminar explores multiple, often contradictory, theories in describing and analyzing sexuality and gender.

Migration, Gender, and Sexuality – syllabus
(GEND3005 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course includes three modules and examines migration and migrant communities in the Netherlands, focusing primarily on postcolonial migration from Indonesia, Suriname, and the Antilles and on labor migration from Turkey and Morocco. The course explores how issues of migration, gender, and sexuality impact the experience of postcolonial and post-migration subjects living in the Netherlands; it also examines the gendered and sexualized perceptions of these communities held by native Dutch communities. It pays close attention to the ways in which the recent shift toward a politics of assimilation affects feelings of belonging and marginalization as well as citizenship rights of postcolonial and post-migration citizens in the Netherlands. During a two-week excursion to Morocco, students examine these issues of gender and sexuality from the context of one of the primary migrant-sending nations. The excursion focuses on gender dynamics, Islam, and sexuality issues in Morocco, and also challenges students to reflect on how their own positionality as a young, western tourist/traveler may affect their perception of Morocco.

Dutch – syllabus
(DUTC1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course has an emphasis on acquiring a working knowledge of the Dutch language related to sexuality, gender, cross-cultural adaptation, and skills building. Students are placed in beginning classes, and acquire a basic understanding of Dutch while learning vocabulary and basic grammar. At the end of the course, most students are able to read news items and short articles in the Dutch language.

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 /3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course explores the concepts of conducting field research, research methodology, and research ethics, particularly in an intercultural context. Course content includes topic selection and refinement; research design; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics; the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; and gathering, organizing, and analyzing data. A cornerstone of the course is the oral history module, in which students learn research methods for gathering (qualitative) data through life stories and personal narratives. This portion of the course is especially useful for students incorporating qualitative interviews into their Independent Study Projects. In addition, each student may choose to engage in a community volunteer experience with a local organization throughout the seminar.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 /4 credits / 120 class hours)
The Independent Study Project is conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: negotiating religion and homosexuality; interracial relationships in the Dutch postcolonial context; multicultural approaches to sex education; black feminist activism in the Netherlands; Dutch-Moroccan women’s conceptions of virginity; gay men and HIV testing; same-sex marriage and LGBT family life.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

moroccoThe Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender program includes exceptional, field-based learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. In addition to shorter, in-country visits, the program travels to Morocco, giving students additional insight on the issues of sexuality, gender, and migration from a different international perspective. 


During this two-week excursion, students engage with Moroccan academics, researchers, and activists to examine the issue of sexuality and gender in a modern and Islamic society. The role of Islamic minorities is a crucial social issue in much of Europe, and issues of gender and sexuality are seen as the most visible fault line of societal tensions. Traveling to Morocco grants students the opportunity to examine these issues from a very different cultural context and perspective. Additionally, as Moroccan immigrants comprise one of the largest migrant communities in the Netherlands, this excursion also focuses on the issue of gender and migration.

The Netherlands

Red Light DistrictThe program also includes excursions within the Netherlands. Highlights include:

  • The Rutgers/World Population Foundation, the Dutch expertise center on sexuality and home to the largest archive dedicated to social sexual research (Utrecht)
  • The HIVOS foundation, one of the main Dutch international development funding organizations, to discuss civil society, sexuality, and development with HIVOS professional staff
  • Amsterdam’s Red Light District with staff from the Prostitute Information Center

Important Travel and Visa Notice

Notice: Students attending this program will travel on a 90-day Schengen Tourist Visa. US citizens are permitted to remain in the Schengen zone on a tourist visa for only 90 days within a 180-day period.

The Schengen zone is a group of European countries, including the Netherlands, with a mutual immigration agreement. Schengen countries are listed here:

The SIT Netherlands program will take the entire 90 days. This means that students cannot travel in the Schengen area 180 days prior to the start of the program, or 180 days after the end of the program. Students planning to participate in another program in Europe either before or after their SIT Netherlands program should inform their admissions counselor immediately.

Garjan Sterk, Academic Director

Garjan Sterk holds a degree in Dutch literature and an additional master’s degree in ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate in gender studies and is working on research into the way specific positions and categories impact meaning-giving processes. She has worked for the last 30 years in the fields of gender, ethnicity, and media, specializing in representations, journalism, and popular culture. She has held several positions as a media researcher and as a project manager in various nonprofit organizations.

Her last position was as a lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science, Department of Media, Information, and Communication. She taught and instructed students, ages 18–24, in various courses. Her main responsibility was research methodology, but she also taught popular culture, gender and ethnic diversity, media and society, and media research. She supervised and coached students during their final thesis research. Garjan is deeply committed to student education in the area of research methodology and likes to explore with students how to tackle a research question.

Rugiero Vitalis, Program Assistant

Rugiero Vitalis handles many of the administrative and organizational details of the program and assists in the various workshops and excursions. Rugiero grew up in a Dutch/Indonesian family in the south of the Netherlands. At the age of eight, he started to study violin, and, until he was 19, his goal was to be a professional violinist. In the end, he choose to study history, in which he has a BA. Rugiero is experienced in the field of higher education. As an orchestra manager, he organized a tour for students of several European conservatories in the Balkans. For the Prince Claus Conservatoire of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences of Groningen, he worked as a project assistant to help facilitate educational projects for students. Rugiero has a passion for traveling. His international focus led him to his own world learning process as an EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer in Israel and Palestine. At SIT, he assists with the organizational aspects and implementation of the Netherlands program.

Yvette Kopijn

Yvette Kopijn, Academic Advisor and Student Support Coordinator

Yvette Kopijn began working with the program in January 2008. She has held different positions within the organization and is currently working with SIT Amsterdam as academic advisor and student support coordinator. She also provides the field study sessions within the Research Methods and Ethics seminar.

Yvette holds a degree in gender and ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate within the School of Social Science Research and is a member of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the intersection of gendered survival strategies and constructions of female identity among Javanese women coming from the former Dutch colony Suriname. As an oral historian, Yvette worked with several cultural heritage organizations and conducted different oral history projects, including Haar Geschiedenis ("Her history"), an online collection of life stories of migrant women in the Netherlands. She provides oral history training and hosts storytelling workshops, most notably for (postcolonial) migrants and their offspring. Yvette comes from a postcolonial migrant family with diverse sexual identities. She was born in Aruba (Dutch Antilles) and is part of a Moroccan-Dutch-Indies household.

Bastiaan Franse, Homestay Coordinator

Bastiaan Franse’s task is to find host families who will welcome students into their homes for the program’s time in Amsterdam and to manage all issues related to the homestays. The students check in with the homestay coordinator on a regular basis and the homestay coordinator stays in touch with the host families. Besides working for SIT, Bastiaan works as a social worker with trans* youth and their families, facilitates youth groups for trans* youth, and educates high school students and professionals in education and healthcare on gender diversity. Bastiaan was on the founding board of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and has been working in youth care since 2001.

Paul Marlisa, Financial Assistant

Paul Marlisa assists with administrative tasks, primarily finances, travel arrangements, and IT/communications. In addition to his work with SIT Netherlands, Paul works as a nurse in the neurologic ward of the AMC, the largest academic hospital in Amsterdam.

Eduard Verbree, Language Instructor

Eduard Verbree is the director of Mercuurtaal, an independent language institute. He is a gifted teacher and tailors the Nederlandse les (Dutch class) to the themes of the SIT program. He also coordinates additional classes and activities on aspects of Dutch culture.

Sampling of additional lecturers for this program:

Chandra Frank, Feminist Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Chandra Frank holds an MPhil in African studies from the University of Cape Town and is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College in London. Her research focuses on the embodiment of resistance within the black feminist movement in the Netherlands. Together with Sarah Klerks, she runs Gerilja Kurating (G/K), an online magazine that explores the meaning and presence of black visual arts today. For Framed Framed, she is currently working toward an exhibition that critically explores the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands. The module she coordinates for SIT focuses on the history of feminism in the Netherlands, with a particular focus on the black feminist movement, transnational feminism, and the shift to material feminism with its focus on the body. Her module includes a field visit to Mama Cash, the world’s oldest women’s fund that supports about 100 women’s rights groups and organizations that are led by women, girls, and trans people. 

Laurens Buijs, LGBT Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Laurens Buijs is a social scientist working at the University of Amsterdam. In his work, he explores the concepts of identity and sexuality with a focus on Dutch culture. In his study of the perpetrators of antigay violence (2009), he argues that dominant conceptualizations of both gay acceptance and homophobia — as “assets” of ethnic, religious, or cultural traditions — are inaccurate and contribute to nationalistic myths of a progressive Dutch nation confronted with external intolerant threats. Instead, he proposes to see incidents of violence as “rites of passage,” in which masculinity, societal status, and peer recognition are at stake. Other themes in his work are the rise of the new right-wing anti-Islam parties after 9/11, the development of emancipation movements since the 1960s, and the making of “typically Dutch” policy measures, such as gay marriage, legalization of prostitution, and drug policies. For SIT, he coordinates the module on LGBT studies and activism, where he discusses LGBT history in Amsterdam, gay marriage rights, LGBT sexual health, gender diversity, and transgender issues.

Marije Janssen, Sexuality Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Marije Janssen studied at Utrecht University within the fields of gender studies and (new) media and digital culture. In the past nine years, she has been active within the field of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands. As an activist, she focuses on sex worker rights but is also the initiator of different events around sexuality, ranging from underground multidisciplinary festivals to workshops around positive sexual education for professionals. All of her work is rooted in the belief that sexuality is part of our essence as human beings and that it is important to create spaces where sexuality can be safely and openly discussed and explored. In this light, Marije initiated the Get a Room! film series, a bimonthly film and discussion event focusing on all aspects of sexuality ( After being successful in both Amsterdam and Utrecht, Get a Room! is currently taking place in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. Within SIT, she is responsible for the Sexualities Studies module, where she focuses on sex positivism, sex work, sex education, and feminist pornography. Part of her module is an excursion to the Red Light District in Amsterdam and a visit to Rutgers/WPF in Utrecht, the oldest organization in the Netherlands working on the enhancement of sexual education.

Nancy Jouwe, Gender, Sexuality, and Postcolonial Communities Module Coordinator

Nancy Jouwe studied women’s studies and cultural history at the University of Utrecht and York and is a feminist and a cultural historian. Over the past 21 years, she has worked as a manager / managing director of the NGO Mama Cash and cultural organization Kosmopolis. As an activist, Nancy has been involved from the mid-80s onwards with the squatters’ movement, the queer movement, the indigenous peoples’ movement, and the women’s movement, especially in the Asia/Oceania region. Nancy currently works as a curator and researcher at the crossroads of art, cultural heritage, and postcolonial history and is affiliated with the Humanistic University in Utrecht. Within SIT, she is responsible for the module on gender, sexuality, and postcolonial communities, where she focuses on the gendered and racialized history of migrants coming from the Netherlands’ former colonies and the instability of postcolonial citizenship. Together with Jennifer Tosh, she takes students on the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour and provides a theory class on intersectionality.

Paul Mepschen, Gender, Sexuality, and Post-Migration Communities Module Coordinator

Paul Mepschen is a social anthropologist working at the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses on populism and the politics of belonging in postcolonial and post-Fordist Europe. Paul is currently working on a PhD concentrating on the culturalization of citizenship and the construction of “autochthony” in the Netherlands. The study takes an ethnographic approach, focusing on a particular neighborhood in Amsterdam, and looks at the intersections of cultural, class, and urban politics and struggles over power and representation. Another focus of Mepschen’s work has been the role of sexuality in the politics of culturalization and in Dutch racism and Islamophobia. He has analyzed the entanglements of “homonormative” representations of gay rights politics with Dutch neo-nationalist populism and anti-Islam discourses. As an activist, Mepschen has been involved in various progressive social movements, including labor and anti-racism activism. He has co-founded the leftist think tank TENK. Within SIT, he is responsible for the module on post-migration communities, in which he discusses multicultural sexual politics, sex education classes and multi-ethnic kids, and the experiences of queer Muslims. His module also includes a meet and greet with Chris Belloni, director of the documentary I Am Gay and Muslim (2012).

Guno Jones, Research Methods and Ethics Module Coordinator

Guno Jones is an interdisciplinary scholar who received his PhD at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he is affiliated with the Faculty of Social Sciences. He held several research positions at the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. As a lecturer, he taught on a variety of subjects at both universities. His main research interests are on citizenship, postcolonial migration, and the nation in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK; the heritage of World War II; and the heritage of colonialism and slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies. He has participated in many post-doc research projects. Among others, he was a member of the research program The Dynamics of War Heritage, Memory, and Remembrance and was part of the research program Inclusive Thinking: The Policy and Practice of Diversity in the Netherlands in Historical Context. Guno has published many articles and books, including an article on the instability of postcolonial citizenship in the anthology Dutch Racism by Philomena Essed and Isabel Hoving. He also has worked as a manuscript reviewer for the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies and Women's Studies. Within SIT, Guno coordinates the module on Research Methods and Ethics.

homestay family in NetherlandsYou will live with a homestay family in Amsterdam for 12 weeks. Hosts are of different ethnic backgrounds and include LGBT households, single parents, and traditional families, all of whom offer unique insights into issues of sexuality and gender within a Dutch and multicultural context.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels and modest hotels.

Program Dates: Spring 2016

Program Start Date:  Feb 1, 2016

Program End Date:    May 13, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 1, 2015


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,725

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • LGBT studies and feminist studies
    • Sexuality and sex work
    • Critical theory
    • Oral history and doing qualitative research
    • Sexual health and gender diversity education
    • Gender, sexuality, and postcoloniality
    • Queer theory, migration, and globalization
  • Two thematic seminars
  • Research Methods and Ethics seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Introduction course to Dutch language and culture
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Utrecht, The Hague, and Morocco, including all related travel costs
  • Access to all museums in the Netherlands
  • Independent Study Project
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Bicycle or alternative local transport

Room & Board:$5,250

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Amsterdam), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
  • Homestay (12 weeks in Amsterdam).
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: Not yet available.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $200

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


SIT, 1 Kipling Road, PO Box 676, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0676
802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US), Fax: 802 258-3296 

SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Accreditation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Copyright 2015. World Learning. All rights reserved.

Back to top