The Amstel Institute for the Liberal Arts and Sciences (AILAS) is a foundation for education and research working towards the development of independent thought. As teachers and researchers we are convinced of the importance of independent judgment. Being able to follow arguments, recognize logic, and being able to read and phrase properly are necessary to deal with contemporary questions. This contributes to personal development and improved career opportunities.

Transmitting knowledge and skills

AILAS aims at the transmission of fundamental academic knowledge and skills by studying foundations within the Western tradition. By understanding these and drawing connections between them, you will better comprehend today’s society, ideas, and developments. Everything about our courses is available on the page Programme.

see our Programme

General education is crucial

Extensive specialisation of university degrees during the past decades has come at the expense of a broad general education. This is particularly evident in a more limited awareness of context and paradigms (fundamental assumptions). There is hence much to be gained from more knowledge of fundamentals, insight into facts, and the skill to develop an educated opinion about them – in short, general education.

Improved independent judgment

For us to understand the world and take a successful position in it, according to AILAS two pillars in our development are important:

  1. Transmission of knowledge
  2. Learning to think independently

Independent judgement depends on knowledge, understanding, and creativity. By learning facts and the connections between the facts, it is possible to subsequently develop a grounded view of your own. Our teaching programmes encourage this by making use of the foundations within the Western tradition. These sources are interdisciplinary: they cover history, law, economics, and philosophy, but also natural sciences, art, and music.

Board of Recommendation

Prof. dr. F. Bolkestein
Prof. dr. F. Bolkestein
Prof. dr. ir. Theo de Vries
Prof. dr. ir. Theo de VriesLeiden University
Prof. dr. Gabriël J.M. van den Brink
Prof. dr. Gabriël J.M. van den BrinkVU University Amsterdam

Cooperation at home and abroad

Our goal is to create a community where students, researchers, and professionals can develop their independent judgment by making use of fundamental sources within the Western tradition. To this end we are increasingly working with partners in the United States and various countries in Europe. Thus we are building a network of students, academics, and researchers.

In-depth course programme

The AILAS academic programme is a valuable supplement to bachelor programmes and university colleges at home and abroad. Our students are Bachelor and Master students, but also working professionals, as well as others with an academic degree seeking greater depth of learning. This results in mixed course groups with a unique dynamic, and an exceptional interaction and exchange of knowledge.

Course structure: varied and interactive

Anyone who is or has been registered at an academic institution can participate in our courses. The groups are small (maximum 15 persons) and mixed in terms of background and age of the participants. The varied programme consists of interactive meetings led by skilled teachers, a reading schedule, and –optionally– the writing of essays.

Studying fundamental sources

The idea behind the courses is to give a broad overview of the foundational works which have shaped our society. Taking into account the historical context, texts and other sources are discussed in an interdisciplinary way.

Facts, logic, and judgment formation

Using fundamental sources, students learn to reason and phrase carefully, both in writing and in speech. Each meeting, just like the entire course, is organized around the triad of facts, logic, and judgment formation. Each meeting, just like the entire course, is organized around the triad of facts, logic, and judgment formation. This builds on the idea of the Trivium, for centuries the backbone of European academic teaching. It challenges students to reflect critically on their own thinking and acting, and to clearly articulate complex thoughts.

Improved independent thought and autonomous judgment

All students and those academically educated benefit from skills that help them to think and act more independently in their studies, work, or their hobbies, and arrive at their own judgment. Our courses contribute to this by:

  • Knowledge of the ‘great works’
  • Practice of independent reasoning and phrasing
  • Insight into the links between the works and between the works and their historical context

Our courses are hence a valuable addition to your CV


Daniël Boomsma
Daniël Boomsmaresearcher Van Mierlo Foundation
Diederik Boomsma
Diederik Boomsmaresearcher Leiden University
Daniëlla Brals
Daniëlla Bralsresearcher University of Amsterdam
Dr. Emma Cohen de Lara
Dr. Emma Cohen de Laralecturer Amsterdam University College
Bart–Jan Heine
Bart–Jan Heineresearcher Leiden University and lecturer Thorbecke Academy
Dr. Patrick Overeem
Dr. Patrick Overeemlecturer VU University Amsterdam
Ir. Peter Rauwerda
Ir. Peter Rauwerdamechanical engineer
Dr. Melvin Schut
Dr. Melvin Schutlecturer Amsterdam University College
Dr. Christiaan van der Kwaak
Dr. Christiaan van der Kwaaklecturer University of Groningen
Dr. Patrick van Schie
Dr. Patrick van Schiedirector Telders Foundation

Characteristic of AILAS: depth and small scale

An open and free exchange of arguments between the students, teachers and researchers is always paramount. For this reason we work with small classes of up to 15 people, supervised by one or more highly educated teachers. In this way you will arrive at the heart of things in a friendly atmosphere.

Interested in the next introduction course ‘Introduction to the Western tradition’, commencing in the spring of 2019? Take a look at the programme now and make sure to register.


Ir. B.P. Rauwerda,
Ir. B.P. Rauwerda,chairman
Dr. M.L. Schut,
Dr. M.L. Schut,secretary
Dr. C.G.F. van der Kwaak,
Dr. C.G.F. van der Kwaak,treasurer

The board of AILAS receives no financial compensation for their board-work

Keep informed for future start dates

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