amsterdam fall river boat
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Smart Cities & Sustainability

Social Change



3 weeks



Extended Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information



3 weeks



Extended Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Program Overview
Be part of cutting-edge innovation in Amsterdam, a smart city and world leader in fighting climate change. 

Cities have a huge impact on the environment—using 78% of global energy and producing 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In Amsterdam, discover the inner workings of a smart city. Witness how urban planning and technology can help lower use of natural resources, lessen impact on the environment, and ensure a good life for residents. Participate in Design Thinking workshops alongside other Global Navigators to define an urban issue, design and model a solution, and present it to a panel of experts.

Amsterdam, one of three cities piloting the Thriving Cities Initiative, intends to become a circular city by 2050 where everything produced and consumed is reusable, giving life to "Doughnut Economics." Hear from change-makers and experience exclusive tours of organizations and companies driving Amsterdam’s transition to a smart and circular city.

Soak in the Dutch way of life, too. Stroll along Amsterdam’s canals and parks. Visit colorful markets and taste traditional dishes like poffertjes and Dutch fries. On excursions, venture outside Amsterdam to explore city planning in cities like Almere, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. 

The Take-Aways

Real-World Experience

Investigate Amsterdam’s smart city initiatives and try your hand at designing local initiatives that mitigate climate change. Come home with innovative strategies to apply in your community.

Credentials for Your Future

Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, and a Project that addresses a climate change challenge.

Life Skills and New Friendships

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and improved communication skills. Enjoy a broader worldview and friends of different backgrounds from across the U.S.







The Destination
  • High school students listening to instructor in Amsterdam
  • amsterdam canal abroad reflection houses
  • Students and instructor in discussion by the water in Amsterdam

The Destination

Welcome to vibrant Amsterdam, to its forward-thinking mindset and diverse culture. 

Loaded with charm and architectural gems, Amsterdam has more bicycles than people and more canals than Venice. Living six feet below sea level, residents have always had to be water conscious, mitigating flood risks and promoting water quality. Climate change awareness is in this capital city’s DNA, making it the perfect place to learn how a city works to ensure that its people and the planet thrive.  

One of the most picturesque capitals in Europe, Amsterdam is also the perfect place to enjoy outdoor music, art, theater, and food festivals. Wherever you go, you’ll find inviting green spaces and all kinds of museums from those housing masterpieces by Van Gogh and Rembrandt to quirky collections dedicated to cheese or cat culture.  

Amsterdam is considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world with more than 180 nationalities represented. Centuries of respect, collaboration, and community have made it a safe, open-minded, and healthy place to live, one where you’ll quickly feel at home. 

Cultural Awareness

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Amsterdam. 

Daily Life

Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places. 

  • Breakfast at the hostel 
  • Hands-on classes with expert instructors and sustainability engineers, and city change-makers 
  • Lunch with your fellow Global Navigators 
  • Out and about for a Cultural Activity or Workshop 
  • Dinner at the hostel or out in the city 


  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites  
  • Quality time with friends 


Hostel, shared rooms with other Global Navigators

24/7 Support

1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Weekly Learning Goals

Settle into Amsterdam. Begin to explore the concepts of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), circular economy, and smart cities. Visit the smart city of Utrecht. Get inspired by a restored canal recently reclaimed from a motorway. 

Learn about systems thinking and design thinking models. Along crucial stakeholders, identify tools for sustainable solutions to solve climate-related problems. Visit case study sites. Explore Rotterdam to uncover circular economies and reflect on sustainable architecture. 

Work in small groups to develop your own sustainable solution to a local problem through design thinking workshops. Present your findings and engage in a discussion on the environmental impact of your solution. 

Program Blogs


From Created Lands to Dutch Delights

By Cierra Summers at CIEE

The trip on these days included explorations in Almere, enjoying a day at Amsterdam forest, traditional Zaanse Schans, and a cooking class.


Settling Into Routine

By Cierra Summers at CIEE

Day 3: The Beauty of the Canals Hoi! Students had their first Dutch language class and learned greetings and common phrases that will help them throughout their studies here in... keep reading


Welkom to Amsterdam

By Cierra Summers at CIEE

Day 1: Arrival Day! Emotions and anticipation were high when over 40 students and flight chaperones met at EWR Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Students arrived timid... keep reading


Sample Activities

High school students in Rotterdam

Just Imagine All the Fun You’ll Have!

  • Enjoy a canal side meal and then hop on a boat ride for spectacular views of Amsterdam’s unique urban landscape, including its narrow, gabled houses that stand shoulder to shoulder along the canals. 
  • Traverse Amsterdam’s canal belt, the heart of the city. Step inside the famous Albert Cuyp market, the largest open-air market in Europe, and try a yummy stroopwafel.
  • Become a climate crime detective for a day and investigate alongside professionals who enforce Amsterdam’s environmental regulations. 
  • Soak in the beauty of Catharijnesingel, a restored canal reclaimed from a motorway in the smart city of Utrecht. Visit the 2000-year-old tower Domtoren
  • On your excursion to modern Rotterdam, climb the Euromast observation tower for unparalleled views of a city that was completely rebuilt post-World War II. 

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience. 

What Students Are Saying

  • “This was truly a life-changing experience. Studying in Amsterdam was so freeing and truly amazing. We did so much in 3 weeks. I will never forget spending time with my peers and Program Leader. I loved all the food we ate here too!”

    Melinda K., Global Navigator Alum

  • "I enjoyed getting to see Rotterdam because it was so different from Amsterdam and was so much more modern and advanced. It was a change of environment from the typical historical Dutch look.”

    June F., Global Navigator Alum

  • “I loved Interacting with local people, learning their stories and conversing with them about Amsterdam. The discussions we had in my classes on a variety of topics were both interesting and engaging.” 

    Zainakai B., Global Navigator Alum

  • “The most memorable experience for me was meeting new people and getting to see authentic Dutch culture.”

    Maya S., Global Navigator Alum

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees


  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.   
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our Scholarship page.  

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Application Fee


Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.    

More Questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations or contact us


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Program Summer Session I 2024 3 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $6,450
Program Summer Session II 2024 3 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $6,450

What's Included

Interactive Classes


3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Gildas Fresneau

Center Director

Gildas holds a master’s degree in European Law from the University of Rennes (France). He worked in many roles within international higher education before joining CIEE as Center Director.

Ready to change your life?

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