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Resilience to violence


Admission requirements

This course is part of the Minor Violence Studies, and is open to bachelor students from all faculties. Students can also take this course as an elective course. There are no specific admission requirements, but students should be familiar with social science research or should familiarise themselves in preparation for this course.


The Covid-19 pandemic illustrates the importance of our ability to cope well with stressors, our ability to show resilience. Resilience denotes the ability of an organism to adapt to changing environments and cope with environmental challenges by shifting within its normal operating range. Resilience in humans refers to our ability to positively adapt following a stressor. Resilience arises from complex interactions of factors that reside within the body (e.g. the hormonal systems, the brain, genetic influences) as well as outside the body (e.g. family support, teaching environment, cultural resources).

In this course we will discuss the historical background of resilience, whilst discussing key studies and experiences (such as the COVID Pandemic) and their effects on the effects on children and young people. We will introduce the various definitions used to describe resilience, and how they have evolved over time in the past 50 years. We will then discuss why some children and young people who experience trauma or stress show resilience, whereas others do not. We do so by discussing the factors and mechanisms that are known to aid resilience and discuss all levels of the bio-ecological level including key neurobiological mechanisms (genetic profiles, brain mechanisms), psychological factors and interventions aimed at these levels. We will further discuss the critical importance of the social environment, specifically the importance of family environments, friendships with peers, the school environment and we will discuss how resilience can be shaped by cultural and global efforts. In doing so we will discuss the mechanisms that aid resilience, as well as interventions that have been developed to promote resilience in young people.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the historical and theoretical development in the resilience field with relevance to education and child studies. Have knowledge of hallmark studies and cases of resilience after trauma.

  • Discuss the contemporary theoretical frameworks for the study of resilience

  • Detail why some individuals who experience adversity go on to show resilience whilst others do not.

  • Discuss how we can help protects of people who experience adversity or threat.

  • Discuss the neurobiological mechanisms that aid resilience after stress, keeping in mind the differential mechanisms that aid resilience to acute vs chronic stress, or resilience in adolescence and childhood.

  • Discuss the importance of taking a complexity perspective in mechanisms of resilience.

  • Discuss the important influences that facilitate resilience from a historical/cultural/societal/global perspective, and what is needed to shape resilient societies.

  • Discuss the challenges young people face in the online world and how we can better protect them.

  • Discuss what the future of research on resilience looks like.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour online lectures and guest lecturers in English. They outline the main concepts and illustrate them using examples from clinical and/or research practice. Scientific papers form the basis of the study material but the material from the lectures is also part of the exam literature, so attendance is highly recommended.

Weekly online quiz will be uploaded on Brightspace, not for grading, but to promote active learning.

Assessment method

An exam consisting of multiple choice (80% of the final grade) and open questions (20% of the final grade). The exam will be based on the assigned readings, videos, podcasts and materials covered in class. You will be permitted to re-sit the exam if the calculated final grade is lower than 5,5.

Reading list

  • Scientific and review papers.

  • Lectures (sheets).



A. van Harmelen can be mailed at

This course is the responsibility of the Board of Examiners Education and Child Studies. The Course and Examination Regulations of the Bachelor Pedagogische Wetenschappen 2022-2023 apply.
The study advisers of the Institute of Education and Child Studies can be contacted by sending an email to


This course takes place in The Faculty of Social and Behavioural sciences in Leiden.