Expecting and Facilitating the Unexpected

Culture Lab and the European Capital of Culture


  • Pedram Dibazar Amsterdam University College
  • Murray Pratt Amsterdam University College




This paper outlines and interrogates the processes informing the design, teaching and learning of Culture Lab, an intensive field class designed to foster experimental learning in anthropology and cultural studies. The course’s object of study and site of learning is the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) and its multiple associations – the phenomenon, the city, and the forms of participation, debates and instances of urban change that occur during a specific iteration. It draws on problem-based and participatory approaches to learning and advocates approaches to teaching cultural anthropology and cultural studies that combine multi-faceted approaches to cultural immersion and discovery, while at the same time acknowledging the individual motivations of learners, by fostering and developing students’ interests and curiosity. This paper reports and reflects upon the course in its first two iterations of the course at Amsterdam University College, namely the field trips to Paphos 2017 and Valletta 2018.