Pitt in Amsterdam

Explore Amsterdam in the summer and learn how cities are increasingly designed to be environmentally friendly from one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.  As an estimated 4 out of 5 people in developed countries are urban dwellers, this topic is becoming highly relevant and this program will give you an insight into future development  and city planning trends.  
Amsterdam is regarded as a global leader in green urbanism. The city is well known for its alternative transportation model that focus on biking and light rail. But it also on the forefront of many other endeavors, such as green building, a comprehensive park and green space network, water management, and an energy system that is transitioning away from fossil fuel.
You will take classes on theories and concepts of the sustainable cities, and will have an opportunity to do field research of the topic of your interest.

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity:

  • to study urban development in one of the most sustainable cities in the world
  • to advance your research skills by working on a topic of your choice related to Amsterdam as a sustainable city
  • to explore rich Dutch history and culture through excursions and museum visits

Intercultural Learning Objectives:

  • Develop cultural self-awareness and knowledge of cultural worldview frameworks (Knowledge);
  • Develop an understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication styles and learn to successfully adapt in various presented cultural contexts (Skills);
  • Develop the ability to engage and learn from perspectives and experiences different from one’s own (Skills);
  • Learn to exercise curiosity and openness in interactions with other cultures (Attitudes);
  • Develop transferrable and personal leadership skills (Skills, Attitudes). 

Learning objectives are based on the AAC&U VALUE rubrics for Global Learning and Intercultural Knowledge and Competence

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. With more than one million inhabitants in its urban area, it is the country's largest city and its financial, cultural, and creative centre.  Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, attracting over 7 million international travellers annually. Amsterdam is colloquially known as Venice of the North because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveller's taste here; whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.

Where You'll Live: 

Students will stay in single rooms in a hostel in the city center. Hostel will be equipped with wifi.  There will be access to shared kitchen. There are also cafes available in the hostel for students to purchase meals.  Alternatively, it is also quite common to buy your breakfast/lunch/dinner at the grocery store. The most seen grocery store in Amsterdam is called Albert Heijn and there is one very close to the hostel. Here you can find all kinds of food, such as fully prepared salads, sandwiches, fruits etc. 
You can expect the following:

  • Single room
  • Bedding
  • Shared bathroom
  • Access to shared kitchen
  • WiFi
  • Coin operated laundry 

Please note that meals are not included in the program fee.

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions.

What You'll Study: 

Pitt in Amsterdam will offer two courses, Sustainable Cities I: Theories and Concepts, and Sustainable Cities II: Applied Field Research.  Though viewed as "upper-level" courses they are open to students from all backgrounds and require no prerequisites.  

To meet the requirements of 6 credits, students will be expected to do some academic work prior to the start of the program, and will have to submit the final paper after returning from Amsterdam.

More specific schedule/updated syllabus will be posted soon.

Sustainable Cities I: Theories and Concepts (URBNST1613)

You may think of cities as engines of pollution and where excessive consumption of scarce resources takes place; however, cities may also be part of the solution to our environmental problems. This undergraduate course is designed to familiarize the student with the concept of sustainability and how it applies in the context of cities; specifically cities in Europe and Amsterdam in particular. The idea of sustainable cities provides a framework for interdisciplinary planning of contemporary cities. We will explore sustainability and urban design in both a global and local context by focusing on the processes that shape the form and function of the built environment. Technological, social, and cultural innovations for sustainable cities will be demonstrated during the course. Through lectures and field visits in Amsterdam, we will explore the theory and practice of urban sustainability, including the history and philosophy of sustainability, ecological footprints, green buildings, alternative energy, innovative transportation solutions, and waste/water management. This constitutes an effort to build better places that are more livable, more equitable, more energy efficient and ecologically sound, and more prosperous for all. 

Sustainable Cities II: Field Research (URBNST1615)

The course Sustainable Cities I: Theories and Concepts explores the idea of sustainable cities as a framework for interdisciplinary planning of contemporary cities. It focused on sustainability and urban design in both a global context and on-the-ground local level in Amsterdam through studying the processes that shape the form and function of the built environment. Sustainable Cities II: Applied Field Research provides an opportunity for the student to build on knowledge from the prerequisite course by developing an independent project which will result in a substantial research paper on a topic relating to Amsterdam as a sustainable city.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Oksana Stalczynski

Privet! I'm Oksana Stalczynski and I'm a Program Manager at the Global Experiences Office. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, was an exchange student and Russian Language Scholar at Reed College in Portland, OR and did a summer language program in Dresden, Germany. Global experiences broaden your horizon, grow your circle of friends and improve your career opportunities. That’s why I think everyone should do one!

Feel free to contact me to find out more about global experiences programs at Pitt, and/or to learn/practice some Russian.


Schedule an appointment

  • Click here to schedule an appointment with me through Pathways.
  • Log into Pathways with your Pitt username and password.
  • Select Find Available Time.
  • Select the time that works for you.
  • Click the schedule button
  • You will see a confirms message on the screen. You will also receive a confirmation in your Pitt email.

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email.

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Dr. Ola Johansson

Dr. Ola Johansson is a Professor of geography who joined the Pitt-Johnstown faculty in 2002, coming from the University of Tennessee. His main teaching and research focus is urban geography, particularly urban governance and policy. He also conducts research in music geography. As a native of Sweden, his regional interest is mainly Europe, and as a former Tennessee Valley Authority employee, energy geography is a secondary interest as well. At Pitt-Johnstown, Dr. Johansson teaches Earth and People, Urban Development, Urban Planning, Economic Geography, Geography of the United States, Geography of Europe, and Energy, Environment and Society.





Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Program Cost $5,199 $5,399
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $5,499 $5,699

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~$1,500
Meals and Personal Expenses ~$1,000 


Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad. Visit our Budgeting page for more information.


What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 6 credits
  • Housing in shared quad accommodations
  • Transportation passes for public transportation
  • Cultural events
  • Site visits
What Else You Need to Know: 

All students participating on CIEE programs will be required to have been vaccinated for COVID-19