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University of Amsterdam (PPLE) - Bachelor Elective System Change

When things go wrong, people often say we need to change the system. But how do you change a system? And what actually is a “system”? In a nutshell, this is what the one-month elective TheRockGroup taught at the University of Amsterdam (PPLE) is about: System Thinking, exploring and understanding what kind of systems we are surrounded by and how these systems can change in light of a crisis.


PPLE (Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics) at the University of Amsterdam is an intense interdisciplinary program for bright bachelor students. Within this faculty, international (including Dutch) students are brought together and posed with challenging courses designed to help them think critically about society and the world around them. These dedicated driven students typically have strong backgrounds in social sciences. To prepare the students to be change makers of tomorrow, it is important that they understand the systems our world is made of and how these systems can be impacted or changed.

Our Work

Through the course “System Change – how crises impact the way we structure the world” TheRockGroup was able to use its network, areas of expertise and extensive background in education to design an entirely new interactive course on System thinking. In this course we critically explored the systems, processes and concepts of our ‘normal’ society. The course first identifies important topics that define today’s reality (e.g. the economic system, human systems, ecosystems). From the past to the present we dive deeper into the reasons why systems change, and the role different crises play(ed). The course highlights the possibilities of transitioning to a ‘new normal’ and asks how we can use certain crises to change our existing systems.

The courses invited guest speakers from relevant societal actors to provide real-life examples to students. This brought the studied theory and our class debates to a higher level. Not only did it show the relevance of what we studied, it also portrayed the complexity of current challenges in a world without perfection information.We encourage students to critically rethink the world and its systems we live in right now.