Learning goals

Berkeley’s Dutch Studies Program offers a comprehensive education in Dutch language, literature, cultural history, and linguistics. The richest Dutch book collection and the intensive collaboration with Dutch, Flemish and Dutch-Caribbean universities and cultural organizations has made Berkeley into a leading intellectual center of Dutch Studies in the US.

Our program offers four levels of Dutch language acquisition in combination with a rich variety of English-taught courses dedicated to Dutch culture, language, politics and history. In cooperation with Berkeley Summer Sessions, the Dutch Studies Program also organizes an annual Travel Study Course: The Amsterdam-Brussels Connection.

The structural idea of the Dutch Studies Program is that Dutch Studies are also World Studies. Each course in our program helps students to sharpen their view of world history, global problems and transnational cultural connections.

Dutch History is World History

Through a broad curriculum, Dutch Studies offers a critical reflection on the multicultural past and present of the Netherlands. Few European countries have as profound a legacy as the Netherlands in both colonial and post-colonial studies. Some of the best world literature has been written in the former Dutch East Indies and in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean. Traces of Dutch influence can be found all over the world, from Japan and Indonesia over South Africa to the United States, where present-day New York City goes back to the former Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.

Dutch Politics are World Politics

Dutch Studies offers a critical reflection on the political past and present of the Low Countries. Few European countries have as profound a legacy in liberty as the Netherlands. Historically, it was not the aristocracy, as in most European nations, but the citizenry that shaped Dutch culture and identity. Its strong attachment to liberty is what makes the Netherlands unique in the world as a model for progressiveness. This liberty is contrasted, however, with the nation’s colonial past and the Dutch historical involvement in the international slave trade.

Dutch Economy is a World Economy

Located at the estuary of some of Europe’s most important rivers, the Netherlands represent a vital economic artery of the European continent. The 17th-century Dutch Republic is considered the first modern economy in the world. Today, the Netherlands is part of the top-10 of the largest foreign investors in the United States. The BENELUX region (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) represent the fourth biggest export economy in the world. Europe’s two largest seaports, Rotterdam and Antwerp, are located in Europe’s Dutch-speaking region.

Dutch Culture is a World Culture

The singular development of the Netherlands has been accompanied by splendid cultural achievements in painting, book printing, architecture and literature right through contemporary dance and design. Dutch culture is represented by several of the world’s most famous painters, from van Eyck to Rembrandt and from Vermeer to van Gogh.

Dutch Language is a World Language

Dutch Studies offers four levels of Dutch language acquisition, from introductory to advanced Dutch, as well as a linguistic course on the structure of modern Dutch. While in Europe, Dutch is the mother tongue of approximately 23 million people (some 17 million in the Netherlands and 6 million in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium), it is also spoken by half a million people in the Caribbean and some 6 million people in South Africa are native speakers of Afrikaans, a language derived from Dutch. Due to its colonial legacy, knowledge of Dutch language proves to be of essential importance for scholars interested in the history of Japan, Southeast Asia, South Africa, the Caribbean and New York.

The structural idea that Dutch Studies are also World Studies reflects itself in the flexibility and inter-departmental orientation of the program. Thanks to its flexibility, Dutch Studies enables students to select precisely those courses they consider to be an interesting complement to their general study. The main ambition of the program is to add a specifically Dutch component to a broad field of studies. Therefore, Dutch Studies is structured as an ideal Minor or Double Major program in combination with a variety of fields such as German, French, History of Art, Southeast Asian Studies, Film Studies, etc. To stimulate inter-departmental cooperation, courses offered by the Dutch Studies Program are generally taught in English and are often cross-listed with other departments.

Students who wish to specialize in Dutch Studies are encouraged to enroll in our introductory language course (Dutch 1), upon which a specific program is elaborated according to the interests of each student individually. The Dutch Studies faculty, in cooperation with faculty members in other departments and guest-professors from the Netherlands and Flanders provide students with the knowledge, experience, language fluency, and analytical skills necessary to become a specialist in Dutch Studies. To solidify their knowledge, students are stimulated to take advantage of the many scholarships for summer programs in the Low Countries as well as the EAP-program with our partner universities in the Netherlands.