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Honours College: Tackling Global Challenges

Current challenges require new thinkers and potential leading experts and public leaders to solve crises at global and local level. The Honours Track has the goal of educating students on how current problems play out among government, science and society and give them the skills to tackle some of these issues theoretically, based on academic literature, and practically, at a local level. The learning experience is thereby based on interactive activities, such as visits to the Dutch lower house, the European Parliament, (public) organizations in The Hague as well as scenario planning and a simulation game. Furthermore students will be individually challenged by the Talent Coach/coordinator to recognize and develop their (leading) capabilities.
Students are asked to go beyond the boundaries of their own field of study, look at themes, issues and trends in society that require a combination of scientific disciplines and analytical lenses. The program links analysis or existing patterns to a future outlook. While using their own ‘home’ discipline to understand old and new issues, students are also expected to understand and integrate the contributions from other disciplines. Students are further involved in shaping the program, in suggesting and preparing topics of analysis and discussion.

Learning Aims

Students who have successfully completed this program are able to:

  • Understand the relationships among government, science and society and how it affects public problem-solving power

  • Apply theoretical knowledge to challenges in the real world.

  • Demonstrate personal leadership capacities based on theoretical and practical insights

  • Combine knowledge from their own field of study with theories from the courses

  • Reflect on global challenges from various academic perspectives and arrive at possible solutions

  • Anticipate future challenges and provide guidance on how to tackle them

  • Construct plausible future scenarios by applying the method of scenario thinking and provide strategic advice on societal challenges (both in written and oral form) to practitioners based on those future scenarios

  • Understand the complexity of EU decision making in relation to (external) dilemmas

  • Use bilateral- and multilateral negotiation skills


This honours programme offers a three year, 30 EC package. A combination of didactical principles is used to reach the aims of the programme: lectures, workshops, case study sessions, simulations, field trips, invited speakers and assignments, personal development conversations. All activities serve to connect theory and practice in order to tackle global challenges. The Living Lab is used intensively for the interactive sessions ‘in house’.

For whom?

This honours track is open to all students who meet the Honours College requirements. In addition to excellent performance in the own BA we expect a strong motivation to make the most of yourself. You should have a broad interest and should feel comfortable doing this track in English.
This track is especially interesting to those students who would like to explore the relation between theory and practice, to acquire the tools to connect these and who like to work in a self-responsible, innovative and multidisciplinary setting.

Contact Coördinator Annette Righolt

First year

The first year of ‘Tackling Global Challenges’ (5 EC) provides an introduction to the academic theories dealing with current issues that further serve as a foundation for the program. The Governance of Science and Society course focuses on the relationships between government, science and society and how they affect public problem-solving power. The goal of the introductory course is to get a sense of how politics, science and society are connected regarding today’s global challenges and what role expertise, money and power can play in these dynamics. The course brings together a variety of lenses and enhances critical and analytical thinking with tools from different disciplines.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Governing science, society and expertise 5

Second year

The second year (15 ECTS) aims at shaping future scholars and leading experts. In this year students start with a mandatory Competences Lab, followed by a choice between Public Leadership and Attacking Global Problems at EU level. The first deepens the understanding of leadership in the public sphere, the latter deepens the understanding of the processes of EU decisionmaking. Finally students choose one of the numerous Honours Classes offered by the Honours Academy or alternatively a Honours Class offered by Leiden University College. At the end of the second year students go on a 2-days working visit to Brussels.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Competences Lab 5
Elective 5

And one of these courses:

Public Leadership 5
Attacking Global Problems at EU level 5

Third year

The third year (10 ECTS) aims at experiencing and mapping the future. In this year students can choose an academic or personal choice of internship, or combine the internship of their regular study with an Honours internship. Students can also undertake an individual project with the aim to tackle a global challenge. In the second semester students finish the Honours Track with the Scenario Lab. They receive an assignment from government or municipality with the aim to experience whether scenario-thinking is applicable to Tackling Global Challenges on Municipality level.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Scenario Lab: the art and science of scenario thinking 5
Individual project 5
Internship 5