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Entrepreneurship for Society

In an increasingly interconnected world, it is no longer sufficient to only gather knowledge. Complex societal challenges – be it energy, safety, health or infrastructure – can only be tackled if information from various fields of expertise comes together. This is different from what we are used to do. We need to develop scientific knowledge across different disciplines and focus on skills and building confidence.

In this minor we want to attract students who are passionate about solving complex societal challenges. You will develop a project in a team of students with different backgrounds, take up a societal issue, and reflect on your experience. Your team will be coached by an academic and business coach, who will help you translate your academic knowledge into impactful projects. During the grand finale, you will present your initiative to a jury of entrepreneurs, policymakers and business people.

Students who complete this Minor add an action oriented and societal relevant experience to their bachelor degree. This new Campus The Hague minor aims to educate, coach and train a new breed of professionals. We encourage students to go beyond what is considered ‘routine’ today. As a student, the programme gives you the opportunity to explore action research methods – combining perspectives from theory and practice -, and teaches you how to use incremental ways of working. Hence, during the minor you will develop an entrepreneurial skills set and attitude and learn how to apply academic knowledge and research methodologies in practice.

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Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester 1

Basecamp – Professional and personal skills 5
Camp I - Research with impact 5
Camp II - Innovation, Co-creation, Entrepreneurial Thinking 5

Students select one of the three Camp III courses

Camp III - Information Technology 10
Camp III - Life Sciences 10
Camp III - Social integration 10
Summit - Action research project 5


You can register for this minor in Usis, code: 6000MESN. It is not possible to follow only one course, as the minor is a consistent package of courses designed to help you build your knowledge in a logical and connected way.

Exceptions are made for students who have to choose electives of 15 ECTS. In this case, students have to register for the individual courses – Basecamp, Camp I and Camp II (15 ECTS) which take place in the first quarter of the first semester, those Usis codes will be announced shortly.

More information on the minor and its specific courses will be available in the e-guide from May 1 onwards. If you have questions, please contact Sjoerd Louwaars at


The Minor is designed using a mountaineering metaphor. Students start at Basecamp, which focuses on fundamental skills for business, policy and creativity. Camp I teaches how to navigate existing and new sources of data and introduces action research methodologies. Camp II diverges into social entrepreneurial thinking, focusing on process methodologies and practices. Camp III then converges into three specializations, namely Life Sciences, Information Technology and Social Integration. At the summit, the final project focusses on real life impact.

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As part of Camp III, students can chose a specialization which focuses on a specific theme to further investigate:
• Life Sciences – The module will emphasize the value of alternative perspectives on technological innovation involving living systems. We explore the open and participatory practices such as DIY biology movement, citizen science, participatory design.
• Information Technology – The objective of this module is to immerse the student in the true meaning of technology, thereby promoting greater affinity and enhanced consciousness of technology’s ever present role in society.
• Social Integration – In this module we will assess the situation in the Netherlands, and especially that in the Hague where a rich and diverse international community coexists alongside one of the poorest areas in the country (Schilderswijk).

Teaching is done by Leiden University staff, experienced practitioners and visiting experts. The selection is based on the wish to cover a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds, academic expertise combined with expertise from practice.


  1. Kick-off Day at 2 September During this day teachers will explain their courses, and – more exiting – we will kick start the minor with a key note of Willem te Beest, Executive Board of Leiden University and a panel discussion with expert entrepreneurs from the public and private sector.

  2. Crowd-fund your project In the first ten weeks you will develop a plan and a budget, you will also learn how to apply creative problem solving skills. Additionally, you will follow lectures on research methods and data collection – this is the academic embedding of your action research project. You will set up a crowd funding initiative, and find seed investments to execute your project.

  3. Academic and business coaches During the programme, your team will be coached by an academic and business coach. The business coaches work at FMO, AEGON, Rabobank and the Municipality of The Hague, they will help you to translate your academic knowledge into practical applications. The academic coaches will help you with the scientific underpinning of your project.

  4. In depth knowledge and experience Prof Zwijnenberg (Life Sciences), Dr. Dedehayir (Information Technology) and Prof Griffiths (Social Integration) are excited to help you to execute your project and make a difference in society! You can choose to take up challenges that they propose, or you can come up with your own “wildcard” project.

  5. Summit at 27 January At the grand finale, you will present your idea that your team has developed with like-minded entrepreneurs, policymakers and business people. After ten weeks putting your plan into action, you will present it to a jury. Willem te Beest (Executive Board Leiden University), Martijn Aslander (Inspirational speaker), Bas van Abel (Fairphone) will be part of the Jury.

Target group

We aim at students who are passionate about solving societal challenges and problems. The course encourages students to think about the financial aspects of potential solutions as well. Students will be guided to test their ideas and critically assess the underlying business models. The following common features describe our target group:

  • Societal conscious: you have a vision to solve social challenges or problems in the community;

  • Entrepreneurial spirit: you are open minded with a flexible and proactive attitude;

  • Process orientation: you are searching for inclusive change through incremental thinking;

  • Value-driven: you have a wish to contribute to financial, ecological and social sustainability;

We are looking for a high diversity of interests and backgrounds, in order to have strong cross-disciplinary teams with higher and more effective innovation capacity!

Mode of Instruction

The programme includes three modes of instruction, we distinguish so-called Theorylab, Thinklab and Actionlab components –each part is built on a combination of all three ‘labs’. The Theorylab focuses on the scientific academic underpinnings. Thinklab sessions offer insights on how to link theory to practice: in the context of finding workable solutions to societal challenges. During the Actionlab students design, develop, deliver and evaluate a prototype intervention and are coached in agile team work .

  • Theorylab
    Theory is mostly transferred on an individual level through readings, podcasts, film, etc. . In addition, blended learning opportunities are exploited. A small selection of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs, see below) are also part of the Theorylab, consisting of weekly video lectures with embedded quizzes, short exercises, readings, several diagnostic surveys, and weekly reflection papers.

  • Thinklab
    Consists of interactive workshop sessions with an academic and/ or practitioner. Students are stimulated in a group setting to deepen their understanding of the theory asdiscussed in the Theorylab. These sessions provide local case studiespresented by (guest) lecturers from academia and practice.

  • Actionlab
    This mode of instruction evolves around simulations, case study and real life exercises. In teams, students embark on a quest learning experience. Each team could for example be assigned to identify a certain societal challenge. During the entire course period students will analyse and create a prototype, validate initial assumptions and finally present a concrete initiative. Afterwards students are required to evaluate their unfolding (analyse, create, reflect). The LivingLab setting allows for an interactive, experimental and action oriented environment. The social initiatives aim at real societal relevance, and will be published under creative commons.