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Science with Society

The Science with Society project brings together local residents, welfare organisations, policy makers, students and scientists. Together we develop knowledge to tackle complex societal problems.

How do we tackle loneliness in a digitized world? How can we become more sustainable in a just way? Finding fair and effective solutions for such complex issues requires knowledge and experience from many different angles. The Science with Society (SwS) project brings these different perspectives together by connecting local residents, welfare organisations, policy makers, students and scientists. We exchange ideas and acquire new knowledge together, which we then convert into research agendas and practical advice for policy.

This project is a collaboration between VU Athena, VoorUitOBA en HvA.

We organise two events:

Student & City in Dialogue

This meeting took place in December 2022. Students from the VU and the HvA sat down with local residents to discuss two societal issues:

  • Fair energy transition
  • Space for mental strength

Based on these discussions, we determined which aspects, according to local residents, should be further investigated. The main outcomes of this meeting can be found at the bottom of this page.

SwS Festival

Follow-up research is currently being conducted based on these results. The outcomes will be shared on 20 and 22 June 2023 during the ‘Science with Society Festival'. On 20 June, we will be organising a large event around various societal themes in the theater of OBA Oosterdok. Entertainment, exchange, inspiration and interaction are central here. On 22 June, round table discussions will take place between residents, local organisations and policy makers in various neighbourhoods (including Geuzenveld, Banne Buiksloot and Ganzenhoef), in which we realise the further approach to the issues. Are we implementing a 'fair energy transition' and 'space for mental strength' in the right way? What role can policy makers play in this?

Do you want to come to the SwS Festival? Or do you want to think along in the organisation of the festival? Register here.

Impression of 'Student & City in Dialogue'

Outcomes of 'Student & City in Dialogue'

  • Theme: space for mental strength

    Our mental health is under pressure. Depression, burnout and loneliness are becoming more common, especially since the pandemic. The City of Amsterdam therefore wants to improve the design of public space for the benefit of the mental health of its residents. What do the people of Amsterdam themselves think is needed for this?

    Focus group results
    Participants identified locations that they consider valuable for their mental health, such as cultural spaces (e.g. theatres), sports and exercise venues and meeting places (e.g. community rooms). The location itself, however, did not appear to be the most important factor. It mainly concerns the underlying need, such as exercise, societal interaction and cognitive development or self-reflection. Accessible places such as parks and community center rooms can offer these possibilities. Interestingly, participants indicated that the availability of exactly these places is declining. Spaces for gathering are strictly regulated, there are fewer public places and drinking a cup of coffee somewhere can quickly become expensive.

    Recommendations for future research and policy
    Based on this input, the students have drawn up a number of recommendations: First, attention should be paid to public places that meet the aforementioned criteria. These locations should be both indoors and outdoors and the focus should be on accessibility and affordability. In one of the focus groups, it was also indicated that use should be made of what is already available, such as local initiatives and communication between local residents. Local residents must be given a role in the development of these places and be continuously involved in the research. For example, a local resident can be appointed as a facilitator to gain insight into which places are currently available, what can or should change and how residents can contribute to this.

    Theme: Just Energy Transition

  • Theme: fair energy transition

    Addressing climate change requires a fundamental transition from the current dominant fossil energy system to a low carbon/zero system. The City of Amsterdam wants to be climate neutral by 2050 and completely ban gas from the city by 2040. This shift requires rigorous changes and therefore has a major societal impact. How do the people of Amsterdam view this?

    Focus group results
    Participants saw several obstacles that could stand in the way of a just energy transition, especially in the field of communication. Many indicated that they were not well informed and did not know where to find official government information. For some, language barriers pose an additional challenge. Some participants do not know how to make their home more energy efficient. Their costs are a limiting factor, but there are also differences between owner-occupied and rented houses. Most participants believe that the government is responsible for a just energy transition, for example by improving the minimum energy standards of rental properties.

    Recommendations for future research and policy
    Participants want communication about the energy transition in Amsterdam to be presented clearly and concisely, and translated if necessary. Flyers in different languages can help improve the quality and accessibility of information. They also want a clear long-term perspective from the government and long-term relationships between stakeholders.

More information


Feel free to contact us!

Geertje Tijsma (