Skip to Content
Programs : Brochure
This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
MSASS Netherlands: Social Justice: Health and Violence Prevention (SASS 325/575)
Amsterdam, Netherlands; Rotterdam, Netherlands (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring Break
Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: CWRU applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Break 2016 12/01/2015 ** Rolling Admission 03/06/2016 03/14/2016
NOTE: All applications submitted after December 1 will be assessed a $100 processing fee.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type:
CWRU Short-Term Language of Instruction: English
Language Prerequisite: No Housing Options: Hotel
Minimum GPA: 2.0 Credit Type: Graduate, Undergraduate
Number of Credits: 3 Program Advisor: Office of Education Abroad (Email
Courses Offered: Applied Social Sciences Case Credit Type: Engineering Social Sciences Credit, Global and Diversity Credit, Social Work Minor
Deposit: $200
Total Program Cost:
Included in Program Cost: Admission fees, breakfasts, Housing, In-country transportation Not Included in Program Costs: Dinner, Flights, Lunch, Passport Fees, Tuition
Program Purpose: Study
Program Description:

Rotterdam, Netherlands


Social Justice: Health and Violence Prevention

In-Country Dates: March 6 - 14, 2016
Pre and post trip seminars January 23, February 20 & April 16 (Saturdays)

Approved for:

  • Global and Cultural Diversity Credit
  • Social Science credit for engineering Students
  • Social Work Minor
  • Elective course

Visit MSASS 3 credit study abroad courses and contact Dr. Mark Chupp (

Contact Nancy Issa for Financial Aid Eligibility for travel costs.

Course description:
The SASS 325 section is taught by: Dean Grover Gilmore
The SASS 575 section is taught by: Professor Mark Singer

This experiential and hands-on course is designed to familiarize them with Dutch culture, social policies and practices for  prostitution, drug use, substance abuse, mental health, neighborhood social control, violence prevention, homelessness; multicultural aspects of health care, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The trip includes guided tours of neighborhoods and social institutions such as hospitals, clinics, user rooms and prisons.  Presentations are given by government officials, practicing social workers, health care providers and many of Holland's most prominent scholars. The experience will challenge students to compare Holland with the United States and help students understand the strengths and weaknesses of social policies and human services in both countries. 


The week will take us to a range of agencies, treatment settings and provide interaction with Dutch scholars, clinicians, managers, and people receiving services. Lots of walking is to be anticipated, interspersed with coffee (the real thing!), biscuits, cheese, chocolate, and typical Dutch hospitality. You will make many new friends and learn a great deal about similarities and differences between how Americans and the Dutch view health care, euthanasia, criminal justice, mental health and substance use disorders, use of soft vs hard drugs, homelessness, prostitution, and abused youth.

On Monday four lectures from Dutch experts at Vrije Universiteit (Free University), in Amsterdam will include Dutch tolerance, euthanasia, substance use and abuse, and sex work (prostitution).

Tuesday has often been the day for a visit to a famous coffee shop, Dampkring, (  where the manager of the shop will talk about how the Dutch have created laws to allow the use of soft drugs in coffee shops consistent with their philosophy of "harm reduction". Although the coffee shop will not be open for business while we are there, you will learn about the history of the harm reduction approach to soft drugs, see the drugs they have for sale and hear about how some of their attitudes are now evolving away from such tolerance. 

On Tuesday afternoon we usually travel to the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam,,  the largest tertiary care hospital in the country, and meet with the medical director of the hospital for an always fascinating discussion about how differently they manage their health care system than we do in the U.S. He will talk about ethical dilemmas that arise when certain patient groups come for treatment, such as illegal immigrants and criminals and how the Dutch clinicians resolve those dilemmas. Our conversation with him is always fascinating and many past students have commented about how much they learned from him during our afternoon at this 2000-bed hospital and medical school.

On Wednesday we typically have traveled to Rotterdam and spent our morning meeting with staff members and clients at S Gravenhof,, a halfway house for hard drugs users. We learn about the Dutch housing system and how they allow drug addicts to live in a halfway house while they try to give them the skills to work and live more independently in the future. Clients will share their stories of life on the streets and their drug use histories, while describing how this unique housing option has helped them.

On Wednesday afternoon we visit Horizon,,  a residential treatment center for severely physically and emotionally abused children, ages 8-12. Several staff members present information about their program for treating these young children and then we have an opportunity to meet with several of the children in one of their residential cottages with staff who describe their day to day treatment regimens. Many of the students who come to the Netherlands describe this agency as the most fascinating visit of the trip.

Thursday  often takes us to Blacka Watra, a drop-in center where people can find access to a number of services including showers, employment, social services, food, laundry and a "User Room", i.e., a safe place to use drugs: Though the schedule is still in the planning stage, an afternoon visit to Altrecht, an inpatient psychiatric hospital for forensic patients, has exposed us to how the Dutch treat people convicted of crimes and also have mental health disorders: There is also often an alternative option to take the afternoon time to visit the main courthouse in Amsterdam and meet with Dutch prosecutors, who detail the structure of the Dutch criminal justice system and then we attend a trial to see how their prosecutors and judges work. They do not use juries; rather one judge (or three judges for more serious offenses) decides the fate of their defendants. 

Friday morning takes us to a lecture by COSA Netherlands,,  a community reintegration program for sexual offenders. Their network of volunteers befriend the client and help him to feel more socially connected to his community while also being on alert for signs of potential problems to decrease the incidence of re-offending.  The afternoon is usually reserved for the "Great Debate" where you have an opportunity to make persuasive arguments for or against various Dutch practices or social policies as they apply here at home (or "not").

Travel Considerations: The Netherlands can be cold and rainy (sometimes snowy) with the day time temperature often in the 40-50 degree range. We do a lot of walking, often several miles per day and take public transportation (tram access will be provided for the course) so wear comfortable shoes and consider layered clothing. It can feel colder than the actual temperature since it is below sea level and windy. They didn't invent windmills for nothing! The streets of Amsterdam are crowded with people and bicycles. Though the hotel may not be of the same standard with which you are accustomed, it is quite nice. The trip over will be tiring because of jet lag and during the week because of evening activities on your personal time. English is spoken everywhere, the water is okay to drink everywhere (though often you must pay for it in a restaurant), and it often costs to use public restrooms. We arrive early Saturday morning. There is a walking tour of the fabulous neighborhood around our hotel given by Case faculty while we wait for access to our rooms in the early afternoon. The course begins with a brief orientation and reception on late Saturday afternoon and your Saturday evening will be open to see the city! Sunday is also an open day but in the evening there is a walking tour of the Red Light District with Dutch and Case faculty. You will also have unstructured free time on the second Saturday in the Netherlands. 

Hotel: All students and faculty will be staying at Leidse Square Hotel Amsterdam. The website is: located on a quiet side street off Leidseplein, near museums, the City Theatre, Casino, cinemas, and with countless restaurants, bars and disco's close by. The historical city centre with its canals, the Leidsestraat with numerous shops and famous museums are all within walking distance, as is the Vondelpark. The hotel has a wake-up call service, a safe in most rooms, bathroom, phone, TV, radio, soap, shampoo, hair dryer & shower cap with a full breakfast starting at 7:00 a.m. every day. It does not provide a wash cloth or lotion, exercise facilities or pool. WIFI is available for free and a computer is available in the lobby.

Expectations: Smoking is not allowed in the hotel rooms.  You may not bring prohibited items back to the United States.  All students are expected to follow the laws of the United States while in the Netherlands. Your behavior in the Netherlands should conform to behavior appropriate for students in the U.S. Most importantly, you are to behave as representatives of Case Western Reserve University while guests in the Netherlands. 

Amsterdam is a large, old cosmopolitan city which has an unending supply of historical sites, world famous museums, Renaissance architecture and appealing nightlife. The course content is fascinating and our students have a wonderful time exploring all that the city has to offer during the site visits and their free time. We hope you will join our experienced faculty during your spring break to see this magnificent city and learn about the Dutch culture and liberal social policies.

Testimonial from Kevin Chiu (past participant):

Being in the nursing program, I don't have as much time as others to travel abroad due to our course curriculum. I saw this spring break opportunity and told myself that I would never have another chance like this to experience life in another country, even though it would only be for a week. This was the singular best decision I had made during my time here as an undergraduate.

I've never learned (and retained) so much information in one week until I went on this trip. The value of this trip came from understanding the Dutch perspectives on many hot-topic issues in America that included the war on drugs, health care, and even issues such as prostitution. Going on this trip with my preconceived notions on these topics, I slowly began to realize how narrow-minded I was. How there were other people in the world that had other ways to do things and how their methods have worked to benefit their society. Ultimately, all these site-visits and presentations helped me understand the importance of critical thinking and dissatisfaction of traditional practices. And what better way to develop this mindset than to experience first-hand different policy and practices of other nations.  Going on this trip has helped me change my mentality on common practices. I find it so much easier to find topics for research papers. Especially in the realm of nursing, I often catch asking myself "Is this the best practice? What can be done differently to give the patient better care?" All of this stemmed from my experiences in Amsterdam, and I would encourage all students to go on one of these trips.