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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:

1. Student & Society in Dialogue

Residents from various neighbourhoods in Amsterdam raise local topics that they think research should address. Students from VU and HvA discuss these topics with the residents in creative ways, for example by creating art with spray paint. Ultimately, the residents and students co-define a research agenda with topics for research to examine. 

Find the outcomes of this event at the bottom of this page.

2. Science with Society Festival

What do we do during the festival?

During this event, research agendas as defined during ‘Student & Society in Dialogue’ are shared with residents, local organisations, students, researchers, teachers and policymakers. Together, we exchange knowledge and ideas. We reflect on if we are giving substance to topics such as 'fair energy transition', ’local food systems’ and 'spaces for mental strength' in the right way.

Find the outcomes of the festival at the bottom of this page.

Outcomes of Student & City in Dialogue

  • 2022

    During the conversations between residents and students in different neighbourhoods of Amsterdam in December 2022 two important themes emerged, namely; ‘spaces for mental health’ and ‘the just energy transition ’. In relation to spaces for mental health we found that 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? In relation to the just energy transition, we found that 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? The findings of the students in relation to these questions can be found on Open Research Amsterdam.

  • 2023

    In November and December 2023, students from the Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning (iCSL1) course spoke with residents from different neighborhoods about various themes, such as the sense of community and any changes they see in their neighborhood. They also spoke to community librarians of the OBAs and investigated how the OBAs connect with local residents, or how they could do this even more. Various themes emerged in these conversations. For example, it was discussed how urban transitions and gentrification influence the sense of community and social cohesion in neighborhoods. The OBA organizes many events in various neighborhoods to strengthen this sense of community and tackle loneliness, but are local residents also aware of this? With the input from the conversations with local residents and community librarians, the students created artworks in collaboration with SAMA, which address, for example, the connection between neighborhood and library or the sense of community in the neighborhood. More findings can be found on Open Research Amsterdam.

Outcomes of the Science with Society Festival

  • 2023

    When discussing the outcomes of the research sharing ideas for new research directions are developed through co-creation, residents, local organisations, students, researchers, teachers and policymakers gather within various OBA locations in different neighbourhoods in Amsterdam to exchange knowledge and ideas on the topics metal strength and energy transition.

    In relation to mental strength  we discussed individual vs. collective mental strength and the importance of taking care of each other and our communities. We also discussed internal vs. external factors that contribute to mental strength. For example, people can be mentally strong but still in a vulnerable position within society. In the OBA North we hosted a mental strength-themed quiz (adapted from a regular weekly OBA quiz) in order to stimulate discussion about mental strength among the elderly in Noord. We discussed potential causes of loneliness among the elderly, green spaces in Amsterdam, and changes in the neighbourhood. In South-East there was a round table discussion, which included HvA psychology students and welfare organizations such as Thrive Amsterdam (GGD) and Swasoom Welzijn. Participants reflected on three questions: 1) What does mental strength mean to you? 2) How do you keep your balance? and 3) What can buurtcampuses or the Science with Society project do to help you?

    In relation to the energy transition, a much-discussed topic in this dialogue was how we can best use the talents already present in the community to stimulate the energy transition. In many neighbourhoods there is a sense of togetherness and there is a lot of knowledge about the neighbourhood and its residents. Shouldn't we use this more? Moreover, HvA and VU students organized the evening ‘Making Geuzenveld Green’ in the OBA in New West. Residents could go here for practical advice from energy coaches and the FIXbrigade. Round table discussions also took place and a great deal of input was received from the various residents and organizations present about what the energy transition means for them. During the Science with Society event in Energie Lab Zuid-Oost held a session on energy transition with an emphasis on people's experiences on this subject. This mainly concerned ways of saving energy: what people are already doing themselves, but also what they need to do better.’

    The more detailed findings of the students in relation to these questions can be found on Open Research Amsterdam

More information


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Geertje Tijsma (