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Adults and Children in a Polarising World


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Topics: Polarisation and culture wars, Exclusion in interpersonal relations, Visual analysis and visual culture, Experiential and theoretical learning
Disciplines: Sociology, Anthropology, Philosopy, Political Sciences
Skills: Project-based working, Combining theoretical knowledge and practical experience, Combining general and personal perspectives, Collaborating, Oral communication, Written communication, Presenting, Societal awareness, Reflecting, Resilience

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.


Polarisation, stigmatisation and exclusion are urgent social themes, which affect each of us in our interpersonal relations. This course stimulates you to explore its effects in a personal interview with someone who can be regarded to bear a stigma. It teaches you to reflect on it from macro-sociological, anthropological and philosophical perspectives.

Polarisation is based on embodied ways of seeing each other. Some ways of seeing approach the other as an object, whereas other ways allow space for the other to be or become more of a human person. Our understanding of what it means to be part of our society is based on an image of who ‘we’ are, and what a good life comprises. While this image allows us to live and act together, it simultaneously excludes other ways of living and other understandings of what makes a good life.

How can we understand and study the effect of this societal imaging on interpersonal relations? How can issues of diversity have such an influence on persons’ self-understanding and on interpersonal relations? What are the effects of polarisation, and how can negative effects be mitigated? And how can we prevent research to fall victim to the same effects?

The course will allow students to explore their personal gaze in relation to stigmatised groups. Students will be challenged to develop experience-based learning skills and make appropriate use of literature. With this knowledge, students will be able to study more specific issues regarding diversity and polarisation in courses they elect to follow later in the Honours programme. Another goal is to provide students with knowledge and insights with which they will be able to understand and analyse contemporary (political) discussions on diversity and polarisation.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • be able to judge processes of polarisation and exclusion from different social positions;

  • be able to combine theoretical knowledge and personal experiential knowledge;

  • have increased your dialogical skills;

  • recognise biased perception in yourself and others;

  • integrate and evaluate experiential knowledge in your future career in e.g. research or policy making.

Programme and timetable:

The sessions of this class will take place on Thursdays from 17:15 to 19:00.

Session 1: 8 February (17:15 to 19:00)
Introduction: Who are ‘we’? Polarisation and culture wars

Session 2: 29 February (17:15 to 19:00)
Mapping (your) social identity

Session 3: 14 March (17:15 to 19:00)
Making interpersonal connections across boundaries: Preparing interviews

Session 4: 28 March (17:15 to 19:00) ‘What did you see? What did the other see?’ Interview results

Session 5: 18 April(17:15 to 19:00)
Visual analysis and culture

Session 6: 2 May (17:15 to 19:00)
Objectifying and subjectifying gazes

Session 7: 16 May (17:15 to 19:00)
Sustainable relations: Circularity of giving and receiving

Session 8: 30 May (17:15 to 19:00)

Pieter de la Court building, room 1B.01

Reading list:

  • On the image(s) of the Netherlands: “Thinking of the Netherlands.” Den Haag: Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau, 2019.

  • On society and social subgroups: Schinkel, Willem. “The Moralisation of Citizenship in Dutch Integration Discourse.” Amsterdam Law Forum 1, no. 1 (2008): 15–26.

  • On the cultural and historical nature of seeing: Sigurdson, Ola, “Heavenly Bodies: Incarnation, the Gaze, and Embodiment in Christian Theology”, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016, pp 151-181

You are explicitly invited to introduce relevant literature from your studies to the reflection process.
Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

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

  • Seminars: 8 seminars of 2 hours (participation is mandatory)

  • Literature reading: 24 hours

  • Practical work: 16 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 48 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 20% participation assessed continually through participation in seminars;

  • 20% ongoing reflections assessed through assignments on Brightspace;

  • 20% interview with a person from a stigmatised group;

  • 40% a final case-application paper of 2000 words or a video presentation (6 min.) to be handed in 24 March.

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.

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 30 October up to and including Sunday 19 November 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.

Dr. Rob van Waarde: