Download the full press release here


Research programme May – July 2021

Call for Students, Teachers and a Head of Programme.


The programme announced and open call announced Wednesday 10th March 2021

Deadline for applications: Friday 9th April 2021

Interviewees selected by the panel: Tuesday 13th April 2021

Skype interviews: Thursday 15th and Friday 16th April 2021

Final results communicated: Monday 19th April 2021

Lecturing dates till be communicated: 19-23rd April 2021

Programme begins: Wednesday 5th May

Opening symposium: Wednesday 5th May

Final show: Thursday 22nd July 2021

Public crit/end of programme: Friday 23rd July 2021

Today, Wednesday 10th March 2021, the University of the Underground announces the next unconventional research programme titled ‘I want to believe’.

​This three-month programme is calling for an investigation into belief systems and religion.  As a part of this practice based residency, we will unravel the relationships between religions and nation-states; and, beliefs systems and economics; through a series of experiences, and creative interventions involving political theory and practice.  

Together we will explore: How can we radically reframe our belief systems being political, economical and sociological- within and outside of institutions? 

Can/ should/ religion and beliefs disappear? 

This new programme will be led by a Head of Programme (to be appointed) with support from Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stepanian (chairwoman of the University of the Underground charity) along with a team of international tutors who are some of the best teachers, unconventional thinkers, dreamers of the day and nightlife makers in the world today. They will be teaching and guiding students to develop strategies and inquisitions to build meaningful experiences and how to practically apply them within the context of an institution of their choosing. 


The programme is international and we welcome applicants from across the world. We welcome independent learners, artists, ​recent graduates ​and other young creative minds who are able to handle research whilst still being able to create and produce. Students need to have a strong creative direction, independent working attitude, self-motivation, self-determination to learn, lots of ideas with a very open mind, the ability to learn from their peers and a willingness to venture into new territories. They need to have a proven track record of being involved with organising communities but also practice-based research. This is a fast pace and intense learning creative programme so we welcome students who will have a creative approach to working and can create out of their comfort zone.  

Please note, this programme is from May 2021- July 2021 and due to recent global events will be all based online and not in our Amsterdam base. It is composed of theory and practice classes, mentoring and designing an experience. ​However, while there will be multiple classes and tutorials,  it is also independently led and student led (specifically the last month of the programme).

A deposit of 150 euros will be required at the start of the programme to guarantee the participation of the candidate. It will be reimbursed at the end of the programme when the student has successfully attended classes and completed the course.  (** Please do note that this can be discussed on a case by case basis and according to your financial needs).

Whilst it is understood that you might be involved in other activities over the course of the programme (May 2021- July 2021), we expect that you will make the best use of the classes and network provided. Please make sure that you can afford to take time off for the programme prior to applying.  

It is important to also mention that the University of the Underground specializes in practice and experiences. You will receive an introductory course on the learning outcomes at the start of the programme. While we do not ask for you to reframe your existing practice, we will challenge you to rethink it in terms of research methods, communities and experiential practices.  

Please note, we are a small operation with very few staff members who are also practitioners (so busy with their own practice), and while there are very regular meetings, tutorials and classes and a strong alumni network which will be able to provide support as and when needed, we are unable to provide counselling services, mental health support or any forms of services beyond mentoring sessions on students’ work in relation to the criterias and learning outcomes of the programme itself. Our staff is not trained in delivering counselling, so please make sure to have the mental health support you need in prior to joining the programme. 

It is the responsibility of our students to check their timezone will allow them to join the classes and that they have the equipment required to allow them to follow the programme (Internet, computer, phone or tablet). We always try to support the best we can- so do let us know if you have any concerns. 

We operate a Zero Tolerance policy on all forms of harassment, and discriminatory behavior.


Students (20+): 

Please register your interest in participating in this programme by email at ​

Also please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

What you need to email us:

–    A covering letter (containing a little bit about yourself, the details of your engagement with communities, working with institutions and experts, and designing events or being involved in politics and/or campaigning).

–    Share your CV or similar to tell us a bit more about what your activities have been to date.

–    Share your online portfolio by PDF or web link (max size 2MB).

–    NOTE: Please do Label your files with your name.  Our email address is

Please note the deliverables for this programme’ research certificate include a collective publication, a podcast and a personal project. This will need to be developed over the course of three months.


Please register your interest in participating in this programme by email at ​​. Also please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

–    A covering letter (containing a little bit about your past relevant experience).

–    Share your CV

–    NOTE: Please do label your files with your name.  Our email address is

We pay everyone the same- as a charity our funds are limited.

120 euros  (including VAT) for a one hour lecture

200 euros (including VAT) for 3 hours workshop (usually break down to 1 hour lecture/ 1 hour brief presentation on the workshop/ 1 hour debrief at the end)

if selected to become a tutor on the programme (so more regular with the students)- it is 150 euros (including VAT) for 3 hours tutorials (usually in group of 4 students by the hour).

Head of Programme:

We are looking for a head of programme, register your interest in participating in this programme by email at ​​. Also please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

–    A covering letter (containing a little bit about your past relevant experience).

–    Share your CV

–    NOTE: Please do label your files with your name.  Our email address is

The role is paid 2400 euros (including VAT) a month- May/ June/ July- this monthly fee include prep time in april.



The University of the Underground was founded in February 2017, as a charity with ANBI status (RSIN 8575.82.781). The University of the Underground is a free, pluralistic and transnational university based in the basement of nightclubs- with headquarters in Amsterdam and London- and actively working with both institutions and nightlife. As charity, the hope of the University of the Underground is to bring generations together to democratise access to public institutions and trigger changes and critical reflections through the use of creative and experiential practices. With an explicit focus on political theory and philosophy, design of experiences, music, theatrical practices, film, social actions, and social dreaming; it aims to provide toolkits for members of the public and students to actively participate in revealing power structures in institutions. The University of the Underground supports unconventional research, countercultures, and practices that apprehend and challenge the formulation of culture, the manufacture, and commodities of knowledge. For the University of the Underground, it is essential to rethink education beyond national borders, but also to build a federation of cooperative schools globally to support the development, identification and empowerments of countercultures in institutions. As a result, the University of the Underground has started to run educational programmes in the USA, starting in summer 2019, in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center of Bard College and the United Nations; but also with the American University in Cairo and online in collaboration with Bassiani, nightclub in Tbilisi in Georgia; or with activists such as Magid Magid.

The University of the Underground has a board of international thinkers, philosophers, activists, aca- demics, politicians, musicians, filmmakers, innovative entrepreneurs but also creatives and curators such as Prof. Noam Chomsky, Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist, academic Prof. Arjun Appadurai, European MEPs Magid Magid, performers such as Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces and musicians Massive Attack, drag performer Peaches Christ, Ted Prize winner and SETI Institute scientist Dr. Jill Tarter, activist Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, author and McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers, President of file transfer service WeTransfer Damian Bradfield, with MOMA curator Paola Antonelli amongst others pluridisciplinary practitioners.