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Searching for Sustainable Livelihoods: A Fieldcourse on Fieldwork in The Netherlands


Admission requirements

Searching for Sustainable Livelihoods: A Fieldcourse on Fieldwork in The Netherlands is a 10 ECTS 200-level course, open to all majors. It runs through Block 4 with a two-week intensive field trip in The Netherlands immediately following reading week. The specific dates are still to be determined. There will be a tuition fee for the field trip to cover lodging, food, and field activities but this will be as minimal as possible and should not hinder anyone from applying. Financial aid may be possible on a case-by-case basis. An information session will be organized at the end of Block 2. The course will count for Global Citizenship credits.

This semester there are three Global Citizenship courses on offer that are by application only (The Ecology Project, Searching for Sustainable Livelihoods, and the SPOC: DPM). If you are applying to more than one of these courses, please indicate (at the top of your application) which of these courses you are applying for, how many you can accept (perhaps you have room in your study plan to participate in two), and your preference ranking of each. Please use the following indication: 1-first choice, 2-second choice, 3-third choice. If you are indifferent, give the course the same ranking (both a 1).

In addition, when applying for the Searching for Sustainable Livelihoods course, please provide the following:

  • Letter of motivation in which you briefly (max 1 page 1.5 spaced) explain your interest in the course, how it fits into your study plan, and what experience you have that you think help prepare you for this field course experience.

  • Your CV

  • Your transcript (print screen from Usis is fine)

Submit all documents via email to:; the deadline to do so is Tuesday 4 January 2022, 23:59.


Across the globe humans face the challenge of building successful livelihoods, ones that not only bring them financial security and stability, but enhance their capabilities and provide them with other important aspects of well-being, be it good health, happiness, identity, and/or belonging. Such pursuits are arguably taking place in increasingly complex, dynamic, inter-connected and challenging environments. Population pressure, climate change, resource depletion, are only some of the forces pushing us to find innovative ways to adapt to changing ecologies, enhance livelihood resilience, and ensure a continued productive and healthy resource base.

In the Netherlands, for example, farmers and fisherman on the Wadden islands (a UNESCO natural world heritage site) are trying to find ways to retain their coastal livelihoods while accommodating growing tourism and a strong conservation movement aimed at mitigating the threats posed by mining, gas drilling and infrastructure developments. Meanwhile in The Hague, residents fight against physical and cultural displacements in the face of demographic changes, urban renewal policies, and complicated processes of gentrification.

If we want to play a part in facilitating and protecting sustainable livelihoods, be it in an urban metropolis or rural coastal village, we need to understand livelihood systems, the complex relationships between humans and the environments they inhabit or make use of.

Anchored in environmental anthropology and the approaches of cultural, political, and ethnoecology, this field course will train students in field methods; in innovative, participatory, and self-reflective methodological approaches and techniques to study human-environment interactions. While we will focus on applying such techniques to questions around sustainable livelihoods and how people engage with, make meaning from, and adapt to the environment, this field methods orientation can be applied to any field and any topic. It is designed for students from all majors.

The course emphasizes practical knowledge and learning in real world settings. Classroom seminars with reading and discussion will be complemented with hands-on learning, field visits, and actual fieldwork both during the Block and the two-week fieldtrip.

Students will learn how to approach the field, with attention paid to the ethics of fieldwork and data collection as well as how to be in the field, making use of all of our senses and taking the time to process and self-reflect on our learning.

Students will try out different techniques from anthropology, environmental science, public health, and geography. Examples include (but are not limited to) transect walks, biodiversity counts, GIS mapping, interviewing and participant observation. The course will highlight the value of innovative, mixed-method and participatory approaches by experimenting with a student-designed photovoice method.

Course Objectives


  • Students will learn about environmental anthropology and the various approaches used to examine the relationship between humans and environments

  • Students will learn to approach sustainable livelihoods from an interdisciplinary systems perspective

  • Students will learn about different methodological approaches used to better understand complex livelihood systems and the value of mixed-method, participatory, and self-reflective approaches.

  • Students will gain regional/local knowledge on the environmental, economic, political, and socio-cultural landscape from which residents in urban and rural Netherlands search for sustainable livelihoods.


  • Students will engage in practical, hands-on learning in real-world settings

  • Students learn key fieldwork skills, like how to enter the field, how to observe with all our senses, how to systematically self-reflect and take time to process field data.

  • Students will get an introduction to some key methods and techniques, like interviewing, participant observation, mapping, and biodiversity quantification.

  • Students will be trained in group work, including collaborating in research and project work, communicating cross-culturally, and pursuing field work together.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

LUC Seminar course in Block 4.

  • Classes will meet in the usual manner and according to the timeslot

  • Fieldwork is an important part of this course to develop practical skills. The fieldwork will be conducted during class time and on weekends.

Netherlands field trip (Summerbreak):

  • Two weeks of an intensive field trip in The Netherlands, in tents, which will comprise of classroom-type seminars, field-trips and project work.

Assessment Method

Final field report: 25% (Pass/Fail)
Participation: 15% (Graded)
Assignments: 4x15% (Graded)

Reading list

Will be provided prior and during the course on an ongoing basis.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Caroline Archambault,