University of the Underground, announces the launch of High School of the Underground. 

In this unique creative program, a younger generation (10-16) will be provided with the necessary toolkits to make use of music, film, theater, design, podcast, spoken words and experiential practices to navigate increasingly tense environmental, sociological, economical and political environments.     

Today, University of the Underground – the award winning educational charity based in the basement of nightclubs which aims to maintain, support and cultivate nightlife and countercultures that will reactivate the public’s engagement with democratic institutions, in an attempt to modify them from within- is excited to announce the launch of High School of the Underground, a creative-based after school program designed for youth ages 10-16 that provides the necessary toolkits to make use of music, film, theater, and experiential practices to navigate increasingly tense environmental, sociological, and political environments. Programmes includes production of events (ie: music, spoken words, comics, drag queen greek tragedy) in discussion with institutions and museums such as the Mayor office of Amsterdam or the National Maritime Museum of Amsterdam. The official launch date for High School of the Underground is 11.12.2019, with applications opening the same day on University of the Underground website and closing on 30.01.2020 for the first 8 weeks programme. High School of the Underground has its first official class on 5.02.2020 which is also the third year anniversary of the University of the Underground.

University of the Underground believes High School of the Underground will further bring communities together in an organized effort to democratize access to institutions by empowering youth to challenge current systems, engage in critical and relevant dialogues, and further rethink our society through the design of experiences, and other creative practices.

‘It is with great excitement that we announce the opening of High School of the Underground alongside our main free educative transnational programmes for unconventional research and masters of Design of Experiences’ says University of the Underground director Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian. ‘We- the board and I- could not think of a better person than University of the Underground 2017-2019 alumni Alexander Cromer to manage this effort. We are so much looking forward to the upcoming weeks. We see it as our role and duty to keep hosting organized and critical actions in the world, and we want to support youths to do just that while making use of some of the creative and experiential methodologies we teach at the University of The Underground’. 

‘This is for the little mad scientists,’ says Alexander Cromer, High School of the Underground project manager  ‘This is for the weirdos, the dreamers, and everyone else that is consistently told no, and ‘doe normaal’’ adds Cromer who plans to focus the program’s attention to youths in underserved communities (of color, queer, refugee, etc.) in the Amsterdam West area. ‘They say talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. I think it’s time to provide those opportunities’.

In the past, University of the Underground’s former teachers and contributors have included oscar winning filmmaker and activist Laura Poitras, author and TV presenter Emma Dabiri, Global Nightmayor Mirik Milan and many more international thinkers, philosophers, activists, academics, politicians, musicians, filmmakers, innovative entrepreneurs but also creatives and curators. Collaborative institutions have included the British Council, the British Film Institute, The Nightmayor Office of Amsterdam, the Hannah Arendt Center of Bard College, NASA, the Pentagon, the United Nations and UNICEF, the Dutch National Opera, record label XL Recordings, Dutch National Bank, Amsterdam Stock Exchange and many more alternative spaces such as the School for Poetic Computation, nightclub Village Underground etc… 

The University of the Underground is composed of a multidisciplinary board with 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 practitioners.                       


We are looking for curious, energetic, and creative youth ages 10-16 and living in the Amsterdam area. We want the little mad scientists, prolific writers, the daring and unapologetic youth that have a strong desire to grow creatively and intellectually with the guidance and mentorship of Amsterdam/London based design professionals. Participants need to be strong willed, highly motivated, open to new forms of thinking/working, and ready/willing to create, and make mistakes. We will be learning about the design of experiences, theater making, costume design, music/podcast production, creative writing, and performance. 

High School of the Underground is an after-school program which begins the first week of February 2020 and will operate two days a week for a duration of 8 weeks. Ages 10-13 program will be on Wednesdays from 16:00 – 18:30, ages 14-16 will be on Fridays from 16:00 – 18:30.

Please note: High School of the Underground operates in the University of the Underground studio underneath De Marktkantine in the west. During the course of the programming, University of the Underground will be hosting a research residency featuring a collective of research/designers from around the world, giving the opportunity for youth to engage with active practitioners from varied disciplines in addition to those based in Amsterdam. 


Deadline for all applications (ie- please share your name, contact details, and interest): Monday, 3rd of February 2020 at 00:00 CET on 

Information meeting, parents and interested students are welcomed to join our open days – Saturday 25th January 2020 at 4:30pm.

A registration fee apply to this programme on a sliding scale from 100 to 500 euros, all donations will benefit the University of the Underground charity. University of the Underground charity aims 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. 

High School of the Underground is powered through a Membership programme- if you wish to support us and hear about the benefits of joining us as a member please email Alexander Cromer at   



The High School of the Underground is a creative program specifically for a younger generation (ages 10-16) that provides the necessary toolkits to make use of music, film, theater, and experiential practices to focus on socially relevant topics helping the youngest amongst us to navigate increasingly tense environmental, sociological, and political environments. The High School of the Underground functions as an after-school program, allowing youth to freely engage in and explore their creativity by participating in workshops and activities. Resulting experiences of their own design that investigate socially relevant topics important to them and their communities. These workshops/activities range from music making, podcast production, film, theatrical practices, dance, and spoken word/storytelling; all of which will be led by professional creators from Amsterdam. All activities will be held in the University of the Underground studio in the historic De Marktkantine building in Amsterdam West.