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The Eternal Pursuit of Happiness

How do science and technologies shape our quest for the good life? And to what extent is our modern, Western, affluent society – driven by a combination of hedonistic consumerism and individual self-actualisation – a fertile ground for this pursuit?

In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary look at the eternal pursuit of happiness based on four themes: (1) modern self; (2) modern society; (3) East and West; and (4) meaning. The focus of the course will be on developments in the 20th and 21st centuries, as they relate most directly to current issues about happiness and wellbeing.   

First, we will dive into the history of the modern self and modern society. When did we begin to consider ourselves unique individuals? Where did our quest for authenticity and self-actualisation start? How to understand well-being as both an ethical concept and practice? What is the impact of technology on our behaviour and wellbeing? How do our modern political and economic systems influence our well-being and our ideas of well-being?

Then, we will compare Eastern and Western approaches to alleviate our suffering. Eastern philosophies and religions claim to have many ways to improve happiness and well-being. Western psychologists and psychiatrists have developed different therapies to treat psychopathology. In the last decades, East and West have found common ground in the Western world: meditation and mindfulness have conquered psychotherapy and are even part of the toolkit of the modern HR manager.

Finally, we will look at meaning as it is one of the most fundamental compasses in life. We will analyse the role work has been playing historically in the life of many people to create meaning, purpose and fulfilment. And we will reflect on the challenges of writing a personal, meaningful narrative in modern society.

Coordinator

Mr Ties van de Werff.

Timetable

You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Entry requirements

Open to second-year and third-year Bachelor’s students as well as 'bijvak' students from other Dutch higher education institutions and contract students.

Registration

Registration is open from 13 June 2022 until one week prior to the start of the course. UvA students can register in SIS (look for code: 5512TEPH6Y). Other interested parties, such as contract students and bijvak students, can register by completing the online registration form.

If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl.

Costs

Prices can be found on the IIS website.

More Information

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in October