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Policies & Politics: Struggling to combat social inequalities


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Topics: Redistribution, Discrimination, Equal opportunities & Identity politics, Education inequality, Health Inequality, Climate Inequality
Disciplines: Political Science, Sociology, Governance & Public Administration
Skills: Group assignments, Interviewing, Writing skills, Debating, Presenting

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.


Inequality is an inherent political contested issue. Although inequalities exist everywhere and throughout history, the way inequalities are accepted and legitimized changes from place to place and from time to time. In this course we will investigate the way social inequalities are recognised as such and how they develop from ‘a fact of life’ towards a political issue.
Once formulated as a political issue, the question arises what kind of policies could be developed and implemented to combat undesirable inequalities successfully. This is a highly dynamic process; political and social actors, governing institutions and policy issues interact with each other. Together, they will determine the outcome.

In this course, we will focus on various social inequalities; from class, education, and health to gender, LGBTQI+ and race/ethnicity and the way they are interrelated. The teacher will use her own experiences as a former Dutch Minister, deputy minister and MP to analyse pitfalls and possibilities, and to teach students the ins and outs of debating. Guest-speakers will join the classes to share their experience. Students are expected to investigate experiences of other stakeholders and participants, other countries and historical periods. These comparisons may help to understand the dynamics of ideals of equality, the way people combat inequality and the interrelation of policy and politics.

Course objectives:

  • Understand the variability and contested character of the concept of equality;

  • Understand the interrelation between various forms of inequality (e.g. syndemics; intersectionality etc.);

  • Gain advanced knowledge about the interplay between political and societal actors; governing institutions and politics;

  • Apply knowledge about this interplay to societal issues of inequality;

  • Develop the ability to find a common ground among stakeholders with very different societal views;

  • Learn to reflect upon their own position and to understand positions of others (through class discussion, simulation);

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the constraints in developing policies to combat social inequality.

Programme and timetable:

The sessions of this class will take place on Tuesdays from 17.30 - 20.00.

Session 1: September 26
Session 2: October 10
Session 3: October 17
Session 4: October 31
Session 5: November 14
Session 6: November 21
Session 7: November 28
Session 8: December 5
Session 9: December 12
Deadline final assignment: December 22

Wijnhaven, room 2.17

Course load and teaching method:

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

  • Seminars: 9 seminars of 2,5 hours

  • Literature reading: 5 hours/week

  • Preparation of presentations, simulation: 10 hours

  • Interview + written report: 10 hours

  • Final paper 3000-4000 words: 52.5 hours

Reading list:

All the course literature will be shared on Brightspace.

Assessment methods:

  • In class-participation: 20%

  • Assignments in preparation of class-meetings and presentations: 30%

  • Written paper: 50%

All grades should be sufficient in order to pass the course.

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.

Application process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 21 August 2023 up to and including Tuesday 12 September 2023 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.


Lecturer: Prof.dr. Jet Bussemaker: