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African Philosophy in Global Times: Knowledge and Culture

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
1 week
Full time
Summer / Short course
Scholarships available
Virtual open day
Virtual open day

Program description

African Philosophy in Global Times: Knowledge and Culture

We live in a time of increasing contact between different cultures. The opportunities, as well as the problems this brings are traceable in all academic disciplines, but especially in the social sciences and in the humanities. This course aims to guide you to a deeper reflection on the historical conditions of intercultural encounters, the philosophical conditions of intercultural dialogue, and the framework of post-coloniality that determines the need to politically negotiate the conditions of such a dialogue - all from an African perspective

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Admission requirements

Who Should Join

PhD and Master’s students in Philosophy, Intercultural Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences interested in African Philosophy, as well as professionals working in relevant fields who have the educational background to be able to follow a philosophy course at this level.

Course level: Master, PhD candidates and professionals from all disciplines

Course level: Master students, PhD and professionals

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Program content

While internationally the field of philosophy is still mostly dominated by Euro-American traditions of thought, diversification and intercultural dialogue are gaining steam rapidly. The voice of African philosophers is increasingly heard in global philosophical discussions, and this course will introduce you to some of their main texts and themes.

African philosophy can be approached in many different ways – as a discussion on the nature of philosophy itself and what an African philosophy would be, and also as a focus on issues of global and current interests where historically and geographically African experiences will shed some light on the little-known facts in global philosophy. In this course, we will focus on the latter to better understand the world of today from an African perspective.

As the present-day African states came into being less than a century ago, inheriting institutional structures and boundaries from a colonial age, African philosophers have spent much thought on questions of identity, culture, differences between knowledge systems, the relationships between language and understanding, and more issues that pertain to the postcolonial, multicultural and intercultural world we all live in. Their viewpoints and answers contain insights and points of reflection for all humankind.

In the course, we will read texts from renowned philosophers such as Kwame Appiah, Paulin Hountondji, Henry Odera Oruka, and Kwasi Wiredu. Texts will focus on the relations between cultural identity and knowledge systems in the global post-colony. Written by and sometimes for Africans, the texts help to understand the dilemmas of the present times that are relevant to people from all over the world.

This course is organised by the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, but the guest lecturers include African-based philosophers – from Cameroon and Senegal. The Dutch lecturers are affiliated to both Dutch universities and those on the African continent, in Nigeria and South Africa.

Scholarships & funding

Several scholarship options are available. Please check the university website for more information

Program delivery

Online interactive lectures, text-reading seminars and self-study assignments.

Tuition fees

Students and PhD Students: €600

Professionals: €800

Students, PhD students and employees at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC: €500

Applications received before the 1 October (Early Bird Discount): -€50


The tuition fee includes: 

  • Application and registration
  • Exclusive course content for a limited number of participants
  • Individual/group guidance from course organiser
  • Access to all online VU facilities such as the library and online learning environments
  • A certificate of attendance after completing the course 
  • A transcript of records mentioning the grade and the obtained ECTS
  • Full support of the winter school team
  • Optional online social activity


Credits - 3 ECTS

At the end of the course you will:

  • Have a firm grip on key texts in African philosophy regarding knowledge and culture in our globalizing age.
  • Have improved your capability to critically read the relevant texts.
  • Have learned about intercultural dialogue as practiced with your peers and lecturers.
  • Have written a short essay on your own philosophical question regarding the course matter.

Contact school

Want to know more about this program, African Philosophy in Global Times: Knowledge and Culture? Fill out the following form and include any questions you have. This information will be sent directly to the school, and a representative will respond to your enquiry.

About this institute

Welcome to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to more than 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff...

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Why study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

With more than 24,000 students, of which 4,088 are international, VU Amsterdam conducts cutting-edge research into problems of societal and scientific importance.

They distinguish themselves in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes:

  • Human Health and Life Sciences
  • Science for Sustainability
  • Connected World
  • Governance for Society

As a student this will help you to look beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines, and to seek for tangible solutions for a better world.

In addition, VU Amsterdam regards diversity, whether in culture, conviction, nationality or prior education, as source of innovation and progress, and hence as special strength.

The Dutch higher education system has been ranked in the top 10 by Universitas 21. In the first Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 16th worldwide. In this ranking, universities are assessed based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to measure the impact of the universities on society. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 (Shanghai Ranking) VU Amsterdam holds the 104th position. The international QS World University ranking 2021 places the Vrije Universiteit at number 236 in the world, which means the Vrije Universiteit belongs to the top 20% of the world.

At VU Amsterdam, the teaching style can be described as student-centred: they encourage students to develop their own opinions through independent and creative thinking. This means that teaching is mainly conducted in small tutorials, where interactivity is the norm rather than the exception. At every opportunity, students are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with their professors.

Contact info

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands, the

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Want to know more about African Philosophy in Global Times: Knowledge and Culture? Fill out the following form and we'll pass your details on to a representative from the school, who will respond to your enquiry.


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