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Inequalities in the 21st century


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes.

Topics: Income inequality, gender inequality, racial inequality, disability and inequality, educational inequality, intersectionality, diversity.
Disciplines: History, economics, gender studies, race studies, educational science.
Skills: The skills students will learn:

  • Public speaking (incl. pitching);

  • Applying the method and mindset of Design Thinking;

  • Collaboration;

  • Interviewing.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


This course engages with a crucial challenge for the 21st century: how do we deal with the growing inequalities within our society? Despite the meritocratic ideal, many inequalities persist. For example, Thomas Piketty has recently shown that economic inequality is back at the same high level as on the eve of the First World War. Others have demonstrated that more unequal countries do worse on a host of indicators: life expectancy, social mobility, education and mental health, but also obesity and teen pregnancy. In addition, recent research shows that the gender pay gap still exist and prime minister Mark Rutte confirmed the existence of systemic racism in Dutch society. These different forms of inequality often intersect and can reinforce each other, which is why this course focuses on five different but overlapping inequalities: social-economic, race, gender, education and ability.

The first part of the course gives you the theoretical background you need to tackle a societal challenge. You will engage in discussions with invited guest speakers from both academic and the professional field. In the second part of the course, you will work on a specific challenge from a societal partner. This way, you will tackle a global problem on a local scale, with the aim of making a difference in the real world. Challenges might include: how might we make the university more inclusive? How might we support teachers in providing inclusive education? How might we make the facilities in the sports centre more inclusive, e.g. around gender identification and physical disability, without emphasising them? How might we make financial security not defined by gender?

Using the method of Design Thinking, you will analyse the situation, brainstorm about possible improvements and prototype solutions in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders. At the final meeting, you will present your solution to the societal partners.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Recognise structural inequalities when they encounter them;

  • Discuss inequalities in a constructive manner;

  • Discuss how different forms of inequality interact;

  • Reflect upon the ways in which different forms of inequality might affect them personally;

  • Apply the methods and mindset of Design Thinking to a societal challenge;

  • Pitch a solution to a societal stakeholder.

Programme and timetable:

The 12 sessions of this class will take place from 17.30 - 20.00 on the following Tuesdays:

Session 1: February 1
Session 2: February 8
Session 3: February 15
Session 4: February 22
Session 5: March 1
Session 6: March 8
Session 7: March 15
Session 8: March 29
Session 9: April 5
Session 10: April 12
Session 11: April 19
Session 12: May 10

Wijnhaven, room 2.17 (The Hague)

Reading list:

The reading list will be made available on Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Seminars: 11 x 3 = 33 hours (participation is mandatory);

  • Literature reading: 4 hours;

  • Peer review: 6 hours;

  • Societal challenge: 10 x 6 = 60 hours;

  • Design Thinking reports: 4 x 5 = 20 hours;

  • Final reflection essay: 17 hours.

Assessment methods:

Assessment will be based on participation, reflection assignments, group work and the solution presented to stakeholders. The precise break-down will be determined together with the students during the first meeting.

Students can only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 1 November 2021 up to and including Thursday 11 November 2021 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Daniek Bosch: