This program has been modified for fall 2020.
Changes include a one-week online component the first and last weeks of the program.

Netherlands

International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Explore the complexities and paradoxes of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands and Morocco.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study

Dutch

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Sep 7 ‎– Dec 15

Online Component

Sep 7 ‎– Sep 11

On Site Component

Sep 13 ‎– Dec 8

Online Component

Dec 11 ‎– Dec 15

Program Base

Amsterdam

Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why study gender in the Netherlands?

This program has been modified with a later in-country start date preceded by one  week online. The online portion will include: program orientation; introductory activities to get to know your academic director and local program team; faculty-led sessions; guest lectures to provide the theoretical frameworks for the course and historical background to the sites and partner organizations; readings; preliminary assignments; and discussions about independent study projects and, if applicable, internship opportunities. We will also have online discussions to debrief sessions and prepare you to join faculty, local team, and peers in country. The program will conclude with one final week online. During this week you will present your Independent Research Project or Internship Paper along with final synthesis sessions to reflect on your time abroad.

Famous for its Red Light District, water canals, and bicycle culture, Amsterdam is also an ideal city in which to explore the intersection of gender and sexuality with race, class, and religion. Meet with activists, academics, and professional sex workers and visit key places like the International Gay and Lesbian Archives and Information Center. In Utrecht and Rotterdam, talk with sex educators, advocacy groups, and community organizers. Our excursion to Berlin, another historical gay capital, will give us a broader European context.

Highlights

  • Learn from experts in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam.
  • Volunteer with an NGO or grassroots organization in the Netherlands.
  • Discuss sex workers’ rights at Amsterdam’s the Prostitution Information Center.
  • Spend a week in Berlin learning about its early gay scene, the persecution under the Nazis, and the reemergence of a freer sexual culture post-unification.

Prerequisites

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

Excursions

Rotterdam

If Amsterdam is New York, Rotterdam is Los Angeles. New, smooth, and flashy, Rotterdam is a cool, modern location for the study of gender and sexuality. You’ll visit queer activists, explore the city’s premier architecture, and see some exceptional art. Depending on the calendar, you might be able to march in Rotterdam Pride, attend a panel on gender visibility, or join a workshop with one of our partners.

Utrecht, City of Students

Charming Utrecht is about 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Boasting the largest student community in the Netherlands, the city is home to Utrecht University, a large single population and a vibrant nightlife. Here you will attend sessions on topics like sexuality and disability, sex education, or polyamory. There will be time for a visit to Savannah Bay, one of the oldest feminist/Lesbian bookstores as well as the kink/fetish shop Laced-Up.

Berlin

Home to some of the first major efforts to repeal anti-Sodomy laws in the 19th century, Berlin had a thriving early gay scene. Sadly, it is also a despairingly excellent place to study the repression of gay identity during the Nazi years. It is now the site of a thriving, modern sex and pornography scene. This deep history, and its current reputation as a hub of arts and culture, makes Berlin is an outstanding place to gain some perspective on gender and sexuality identity in Europe. It is also an extremely appropriate place to consider comparative immigrant experiences. Like the Netherlands, Germany developed a ‘guest worker’ program after World War II, and like the Netherlands, has struggled with negotiating a modern, multi-cultural identity. The reemergence of nationalist, far right political movements bears study as it does in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. Berlin is also beautiful and cool. We’ll visit museums and historical sites, have workshops and lectures with academics and at NGOs, hang out with the beautiful people in the Ku’damm, take a gay tour of the city and sample some kraut during this week-long excursion.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

Students attend two thematic seminars: Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies, and Migration, Gender, and Sexuality. Each seminar is led by a professor who provides a strong theoretical basis for the course, and also includes presentations, workshops, and guided site visits from local researchers, practitioners, and activists. This combination of the theoretical with on-the-ground practice provides a broad range of perspectives on sexuality and gender in Dutch and international contexts.

The semester concludes with a month-long individual, in-depth exploration of a topic of particular interest to the student. Some students produce a traditional essay or a creative project, and others perform an intensive internship at a Dutch organization. Recent students have evaluated anti-sex work organizations, produced a photo essay, written a zine, published a podcast, wrote a year’s worth of tweets for a global sex education NGO, and worked with the director of an Amsterdam museum to write a draft of an article on a manuscript in the museum’s collection. Many students find their ISP to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their entire college career.

The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Sexual politics in a multicultural society
  • How identity is shaped by gender, sexuality, race, religion, and class
  • Sex and gender education: policies and methods in the Netherlands
  • History of homosexuality
  • Comparative migration

Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies

Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies – syllabus
(GEND3000 / 3 credits)

The seminar presents an interdisciplinary look at selected topics in sexuality, gender studies, and activism. It explores the intersectional nature of gender and sexuality in the Dutch context and enables students to gain a thorough understanding of the social movements concerning sexuality and gender in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The seminar pays attention to social history and to important epistemological and methodological debates in the social sciences, asking key questions such as: What is identity/identification? What is masculinity/femininity? How is sexuality expressed in social processes and practices? If sexuality and gender are “constructions,” what does that mean? Lectures focus on feminist theory, LGBTQ+ studies, and sexuality studies and consider topics that include LGBT+, 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.

Migration, Gender, and Sexuality

Migration, Gender, and Sexuality – syllabus
(GEND3005 / 3 credits)

The course examines gender and sexuality in the context of post-colonial and post-migration subjectivities in the Netherlands and around the globe. Integrating lectures, field visits to museums and grassroots organizations, readings, and reflection sessions, the course will focus on the international aspect of the overarching topic: migration, international issues, transnational encounters, postcolonial and postmigration afterlives. During a week-long excursion to Berlin, students study the interaction between ethnic Germans, longstanding Turkish immigrant groups, and the new immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Dutch

Dutch – syllabus
(DUTC1003 / 3 credits)

This course focuses on acquiring a working knowledge of the Dutch language related to sexuality and gender and to everyday life in the Netherlands. Students are almost always at the beginner’s level and during the semester acquire a basic understanding of Dutch, a vocabulary that is related to the program’s themes, 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

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

This seminar introduces students to the conceptual and practical tools essential to forming constructive relationships with organizations and/or individuals from other cultures, particularly those required for completing an academic project in the cultural context of the Netherlands. The course enhances students’ skills at building a network; initiating purposeful dialogue in the cultural context of the Netherlands; gathering, recording, and analyzing primary data; and writing an academic report. The course pays particular attention to the ethics of working, researching, and living as a cultural guest. The class situates these ethical issues specifically as they apply within the cultural context of the Netherlands and the program’s critical global issue: identity and human resilience . The course prepares students for their independent study project, and also gives students the intellectual tools to move about the world, learning and growing in an ethical manner.

Course Options

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO in the Netherlands. The aim of the internship is to enable students to gain valuable work experience and enhance their skills in an international work environment. Specifically, students will conduct an internship in the context of gender and sexuality issues in the Netherlands, and a focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issues of migration, identity, and resilience. The seminar includes regular reflection and assessment meetings with the academic director or internship coordinator to review the progress of the internship and learning associated with the internship experience. Students complete a substantial academic paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. Students also conduct an oral presentation of their internship experience and findings.

Sample internships:

  • Preparing exhibitions and doing research at the International Gay and Lesbian Archive and Information Center
  • Providing support work at PROUD (Dutch Union for Sex Workers)
  • Assisting men’s emancipation in Amsterdam at grassroots organization Emancipator
  • Promoting sexual education for all at international platform Love Matters
  • Researching and writing Wikipedia entries about female role models, artists, and scientists and about feminist organizations or gender equality at Atria Knowledge Institute for Emancipation and Women’s History
  • Helping out at Bijlmerpark Theater, a theater and cultural center working with and for communities in Amsterdam Zuidoost
  • Working at de Vrankrijk, a queer squat in Amsterdam
  • Helping out in one of Amsterdam’s feminist and queer festivals
  • Supporting the empowerment and visibility of queer Muslims at Maruf, a platform for queer Muslims in the Netherlands and beyond

OR

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

The last four weeks of the semester will be devoted solely to the ISP, during which time you will pursue original research on a topic you choose that is related to the program’s theme. The ISP is most often conducted in Amsterdam, but another location is possible as long as it is relevant 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 their experiences with HIV testing; vernacular expressions of women of color.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Negotiating religion and homosexuality
  • Interracial relationships in the Dutch postcolonial context
  • Intergenerational dating strategies
  • Black feminist activism in the Netherlands
  • Dating strategies of older lesbian women in the Netherlands
  • Multicultural approaches to sex education
  • Female body images in media and their effects 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

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

Homestays

Amsterdam

After a brief orientation, you will live with a local family in the greater Amsterdam area for the whole of the program. Commute times may vary, taking up to 45 minutes. Your homestay family can help you understand and navigate life in this thriving city of canals. You’ll stay with real Amsterdammers who come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and include LGBT households, single parents, young professionals, traditional families, and retirees. The homestay experience is often described as one of the program’s highlights, and one of the most rewarding experiences of the semester. All families offer unique insights into sexuality and gender from a Dutch perspective.  

Your host family will help you navigate the city, culture, and language. Think of them as your insider’s guide and private Dutch tutor who will help you integrate into your new host country. They can introduce you to the best of their neighborhoods – outdoor markets, the perfect café, a local shop – and advise you on the small towns and big cities you ought to visit while you are in the country.

Other Accommodations

Hostels and modest hotels

Career Paths

Students on this program represent many different colleges, universities, and majors. Many have gone on to do work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Associate director of college counseling and history at Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA

  • Birth doula at Birth Partners Doulas of Connecticut, Stratford, CT

  • Lead field organizer of the Alaska Democratic Party, Anchorage, AK

  • Project member at Love Matters, RNW, Hilversum, Netherlands

Faculty & Staff

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Jana Byars, PhD
Academic Director
Bianca Bastiaan Franse
Homestay Coordinator
Selma el Boundati, MS
Internship Coordinator
Eduard Verbree
Language Instructor
Susanna Khouw
Program Assistant
Tobias Dörfler
Financial Assistant
Catherine Schook, MS
Student Support Officer

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