Program Details

This course takes a fresh approach to the study of organized crime by viewing it through the prism of business and economics.
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:

Program Overview

Program Description:

Popular TV shows like Narcos, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and The Sopranos purport to portray the workings of organized crime, and their huge audiences reveal our fascination with this hidden underworld. Likewise, news coverage of real-life scandals feeds our curiosity about the way criminality permeates government, society and the economy.

This course takes a fresh approach to the study of organized crime by viewing it through the prism of business and economics. For example, how do criminal organizations deal with competitors? Do they have a “brand”? How do they recruit new talent and innovate? 

The syllabus is divided into four blocks. 

  • Terminology (definitions and concepts), types of organized crime and criminal organization, key distinctions between criminal and non-criminal organizations.
  • Inside the criminal organization: structure, divisions, human resources, operations.
  • Outside the organization: monopolies versus competitive markets, old versus new crimes, disruptive innovations, symbioses with legal economic activities.
  • Enforcement: the link between organized crime and corruption, economic incentives to reduce organized crime, the costs, benefits and feasibility of prohibition versus legalization strategies. 
  • You also undertake an individual assignment tailored to your own interests. Someone involved in technology, for example, can explore how criminal organizations operate in the deep web or whether bitcoins facilitate cybercrime. 

Learning about organized crime in Amsterdam is special in itself, as several of our topics have particular local relevance: mafia activity, the production and trafficking of ecstasy, money laundering and tax evasion. The course excursions allow you to observe and discuss these issues outside the classroom.

Setting Description:
With over 180 unique nationalities, Amsterdam is a melting pot of cultures and embraces different cultures, religions, and lifestyles. 165 canals criss-cross the entire city, giving it its nickname ‘Venice of the North.’ The city also features more bikes than inhabitants! With a bustling creative industry, Amsterdam offers plenty of cultural activities and events throughout the year. In Amsterdam you can benefit from the advantages of a big city with enough quiet spots to kick back and relax.
1150 EUR. The tuition fee includes: • Airport pick-up service • Welcome goodie bag • Orientation programme • Course excursions • On-site support • Emergency assistance • Transcript of records after completion of the course

Additional Program Information

Scholarships Description:
The VU Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition and housing fees of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

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