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Tackling Inequalities


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Applying the method and mindset of design thinking; Collaborative problem-solving; Critical thinking;
Interviewing; Project-based working; Public speaking (including pitching).
Disciplines: Gender Studies; Educational Science; Psychology; Race Studies; Religious Studies; Ethnic Studies; Social Sciences; Economics; History; Public Administration
Topics: Inequality; Impact; Project-based working; Design thinking; Social-economic Inequality; Race Inequality; Gender Inequality; Education Inequality; Disability and inequality; Inclusion, Equity and Diversity; Intersectionality
Type: Honours Challenge. This course is aimed at gaining practical problem-solving experience in an organisation.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Master Honours Challenge aimed at talented 2nd, 3rd and on Bachelor's students and 1st and 2nd year and on Master’s students. Admission will be based on academic background, GPA and motivation.


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 (2014) has 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 (Kim & Kim, 2018), social mobility (Bruna, Rungo, & Allo, 2022), education (Blanden, Doepke, & Stuhler, 2022) and mental health, but also obesity and teen pregnancy (Scholz, 2020). In addition, recent research shows that the gender pay gap still exist (Litman, et al., 2020) 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 professional fields. In the second part of the course, you will choose a specific challenge from a societal partner (like the municipality, a school or partners within the university) around a certain theme.

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 can we ensure equal chances of promotion within our organisation, how might we make the university more inclusive, or how do we make sure that the transition from primary to high school is fair and successful for every child?

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

The following stakeholders/ societal partners will be participating in this challenge:

  • Hivos

  • Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

  • TU Delft

  • Thesis Hub The Hague Southwest

  • Leiden University Diversity Office

Course objectives

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

  • recognize structural inequalities when they encounter them;

  • discuss inequalities in a constructive manner and through an interdisciplinary lens;

  • 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;

  • apply skills of project-based working and collaborative problem-solving throughout the project.

Programme and Timetable

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

Session 1: 7 November 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Introduction to Inequality and intersectionality

Session 2: 14 November 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Introduction to Design Thinking

Session 3: 21 November 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Challenge fair

Session 4: 28 November 2023 (Online)
Optional online check-in

Session 5: 5 December 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Education and inequality

Session 6: 12 December 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Socio-economics and inequality

Session 7: 19 December 2023 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Race & ethnicity and inequality

Session 8: 9 January 2024 (Online)
Optional online check-in

Session 9: 16 January 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Ability and inequality

Session 10: 30 January 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Gender and inequality

Session 11: 6 February 2024 (Online)
Optional online check-in

Session 12: 13 February 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
DEI and intersectionality

Session 13: 27 February 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Formulating own perspectives on inequality

Session 14: 12 March 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Pitching prototypes

Session 15: 19 March 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.19)
Meeting group facilitators

Session 16: 2 April 2024 (Online)
Optional group check-in

Session 17: 9 April 2024 (Wijnhaven, room 2.17)
Final presentations

The final syllabus will be communicated via Brightspace a week prior to the course's start date.


Wijnhaven, room 2.17, Wijnhaven, room 2.19, and some sessions online

Course load

This course is worth 10 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 280 hours:

  • Seminars: 50 hours (participation is mandatory, two absences allowed if communicated beforehand)

  • Literature reading: 40 hours

  • Societal Challenge: 80 hours

  • Self/Group Study (including assignments): 110 hours


Assessments will be based on:

  • Participation: 10% (participation is mandatory, two absences allowed if communicated beforehand)

  • Reflection assignments: 20%

  • Group work: 20%

  • Solution presented to stakeholders: 50%

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

The assessment methods will be discussed together with the students in class.

Reading list

The reading list will be made available on Brightspace.

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 Master Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.


Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday, 25 September until and including Sunday, 15 October 2023 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

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


Dr. Niloufar Daneshkhah:
Ms. Aayushi Shah: