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Honours College Tackling Global Challenges

What Makes This Programme an Honours Track?

Current challenges require new thinkers and potential leading experts and (public) leaders to solve crises at global and local level. This 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 European Parliament, (public) organisations in Brussels and The Hague as well as different simulation games.
Students are asked to go beyond the boundaries of their own field of study, look at themes, issues and trends in society or the world at large that require a combination of scientific disciplines and analytical lenses. The programme links analysis of 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 and think trans-disciplinary. Students are further involved in shaping the programme, in suggesting and preparing topics of analysis and discussion.

Learning aims

  • Students who have successfully completed this programme are able to:
  1. Understand the relationships among government, science and society and how it affects public problem-solving power;
  2. Apply theoretical knowledge to challenges in the real world;
  3. Demonstrate personal leadership capacities based on theoretical and practical insights;
  4. Combine knowledge from their own field of study with theories from the courses;
  5. Reflect on global challenges from various academic perspectives and arrive at possible solutions;
  6. Use bilateral and multilateral negotiation skills;
  7. Understand and analyse the complexity of (wicked) problems from different scientific fields, including philosophy, psychology, archaeology and political science;
  8. Understand and use techniques and methods such as visualization, stakeholder analysis, integrative negotiation, framing / reframing and their relation to problems;
  9. Give policy advice to real-world policy makers on some of the problems they struggle with based on research and literature.

Content of Honours College Track

This honours programme offers a three-year 30 EC package for students entering the programme in the first BA year, and a two-year 30 EC package for those entering in the second BA year. A combination of didactic principles is used to reach the aims of the programme: lectures, workshops, case study sessions, simulations, field trips, guest speakers and assignments, personal and leadership development conversations, Honours internships and individual projects. All activities serve to connect theory and practice in order to tackle personal, local and global challenges.

For whom

The Honours Track is open to all students who meet the Honours College requirements. In addition to excellent performance in the BA we expect a strong motivation to deal with personal and global challenges. Moreover, we want you to finish what you start. You must be willing to develop your personality and personal leadership skills, as well as integrate yourself with our international student body. You must also be comfortable completing this track in English.
This track is especially interesting to those students who would like to explore the relationship between theory and practice, to acquire the tools to connect these and who like to work in a innovative and multidisciplinary setting that prides itself on accountability.


For admission criteria and deadlines see: Application & admission

Contact coordinator

Annette Righolt

First year

Year BA1 semester 2: Honours FGGA

In the first semester of Honours FGGA you will have to choose between three courses, all designed to improve your personal skills or scientific insights. Negotiations Lab will be repeated in BA2/1. The Honours coordinator will take care of enrolment on Brightspace and in USIS.

BA1/2 Crucial Skills by trainer School of LIFE (25 places)

“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.” - Confucius

In this highly interactive course we will study some of the most relevant skills for professionals in the 21st century. This course presumes that professionals with high emotional intelligence and self-awareness are the bound to become leaders of the next decades. Your Consciousness on social, societal, individual and environmental levels will be enlarged through this course.

Some profound differences between university and professional life that we will tap into:

  • You will have to work intensively together with people you don’t know well.

  • You will have to present yourself and your results all the time.

  • You will have to be ready to negotiate for yourself and your organisation.

  • Nobody is responsible for your own development and well-being but you.

  • You will never have a clear idea how to get a good grade, since nobody is grading you and there are no assessment guidelines.

  • You will always be uncertain about the relevance and impact of your projects and task

Learning in this course is done by a combination of practising and reflection called experiential learning.

The course will be taught by Jacob Koolstra. Each theme will partly be covered by Jacob and partly by teaching groups existing of students that are guided by Jacob.

After the lecture the teaching groups will get adequate and constructive feedback from their audience.

Course objectives

  • Practice a growth mindset by identifying continuous potential for personal development

  • Examine core values and identify a personal mission statement

  • Recognise the way that communication and presentation are mutually inclusive

  • Apply personal and theoretical reflection in writing

  • Practice how to generate new perspectives on conventional wisdom to discover possibilities, creative thinking

  • Connect traditional to new notions of (entrepreneurial) value

BA1/2 Negotiations LAB by drs. Jaelah van Tol and dr. Wolf Steinel (30 places)

Changes in society, the global economy, and ways people work have made negotiating skills more important than ever. The challenges are legion: dealing with history’s most diverse work force, doing business with customers who tell you how to run your business, negotiating with foreign counterparts—and more. These are not just issues of corporate concern; they are also of increasing importance to your personal success.

By participating in this course you will come to recognise the pervasiveness and importance of negotiation. You will acquire a new repertoire of negotiating skills in a variety of different conflict settings. You will develop a systematic and positive approach to negotiating with colleagues, bosses, clients, other stakeholders, and external groups of all kinds—in ways that equip you to deal also with all kinds of conditions and circumstances.

This is an interactive course based on the idea that becoming skilled at negotiation is best achieved through practising it. Therefore this course contains simulation games and negotiation exercises where you can practice your negotiation and leadership skills in a safe environment on your fellow students. The exercises will be combined with reflection, discussion, readings, assignments and presentations to connect theory and practice and enhance the overall learning.

Course objectives
This course aims to help you develop the negotiating skills needed to meet the challenges facing today’s world. The course integrates the experiential and intellectual components of negotiation, and will help you

  • develop the sophistication to analyse bargaining and conflict relationships;

  • to learn (through class discussion, peer feedback and self-assessment) about your own individual conflict management style;

  • gain advanced knowledge and insights about negotiation and related organisational behaviour and apply this theoretical knowledge to challenges in the real world;

  • prepare effectively for negotiation;

  • understand when to negotiate, and when not to negotiate, when to reach a deal and when to walk away;

  • negotiate effectively in teams or with multiple opponents;

  • apply multiple approaches to resolving unproductive negotiations;

  • understand how to create value and reach mutually beneficial agreements;

  • and to increase your confidence in your negotiation skills.

BA1/2 A better world is possible: the future of human security and global governance by professor Joachim Koops (ISGA), 25 places

This course challenges and encourages outstanding honours students to study, analyse and evaluate the most pressing issues and problems of human security and global governance in both theory and practice. Taking the United Nations Development Report of 1994 (which mentioned the term ‘human security’ for the first time) and the Report of the Committee on Global Governance of 1995 (conceptualising the challenges of global governance) as starting points, students will examine and assess lessons from previous failed and (partially) successful attempts of predicting and addressing local and global security problems and will apply these lessons to persisting current and future challenges.

Themes to be covered range from threats to individual freedoms and human rights to war, peace, geopolitical transformations as well as traditional and non-traditional challenges (such as arms proliferation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, poverty and development, climate change and ocean governance, cybersecurity and hybrid threats, global health and pandemic management) to global security and global governance.

Students will closely interact with major experts, diplomats, policy-makers and senior officials from international organisations and NGOs as well as with social entrepreneurs, in order to devise their own actionable, pragmatic but at the same time innovative solutions and scenarios for the future of human and global security governance. Whilst analysing core concepts, theories, risk analysis and scenario planning tools during lectures and blended learning sessions, students will also form and work in their own “think tank” groups of up to 4 students in order to create and advance their policy proposals.

Students with outstanding proposals will receive the opportunity of publishing their work at ISGA’s Security and Global Affairs blog and with cooperating international think tank partners. The organisation of a public student-led “Better World is Possible” Conference with dialogue partners and experts is part of the programme and rounds off the course.

Course objectives
By the end of this course, students will have acquired the following knowledge, insights and skills

  • The ability to explain, analyse and synthesise core concepts and issues related to the themes of ‘human security’, ‘global governance’ and global security from a multi-level perspective (i.e. individual, local, national, regional, global)

  • The ability to analyse the main international organisations, institutions and capacities created at different levels to address major issues of human and global security, to identify and explain their weaknesses and needs for improvement

  • The ability to explain and apply basic methods of risk analysis and scenario planning in order to predict future human security and global affairs threats

  • The capacity to analyse and apply insights from social entrepreneurs, diplomats and policy-makers

  • The ability to synthesise core insights from the literature, scenario analyses and exchanges with guest speakers and external events in order to apply them to devising actionable policy innovations

  • The ability to cooperate effectively in teams

  • The ability to organise a successful public conference

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Individual project 5
Internship 5
Negotiations LAB 5
Crucial Skills 5
A Better World is Possible: The Future of Human Security and Global Governance 5

Second year

Year BA2 semester 1: Honours FGGA

In this second year of TGC you will continue developing your skills and insights. You will have to gain 10 EC by TGC courses and 5 EC by taking a mandatory Honours Class. In the first semester TGC you can choose between three TGC courses. In the second between two TGC courses. The Honours Classes are distributed by the Honours Academy and you will receive an information and application e-mail halfway August for semester 1 and halfway November for semester 2. The Honours coordinator will invite you each semester to discuss your study plan. The coordinator will take care of enrolment on Brightspace and USIS. The HA will do so for the Honours classes.

BA2/1 Governing Science, Society and Expertise by assistant-professor Sarah Giest (25 places)

This course introduces students to the sometimes tense relationship between politics, society and experts. The class shows the different ways in which problems and issues in society, business and politics are identified, how they can be addressed, and how students may orient themselves on advising on such problems and issues in their future career. Throughout the course students are made aware of scientific ‘lenses’ on reality to get a sharp analytical view on problems and issues, and what it means when we speak about ‘innovation’ in science and research for addressing problems in the real world. The course will further include a simulation game to experience the interplay of government, research, non-governmental stakeholders and society.

Course objectives
The goal of the 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 introduces students to a variety of lenses and enhances critical and analytical thinking with tools from different disciplines. These skills will be put to use during the simulation game at the end of the course.

BA2/1 Negotiations LAB (see description BA1) (30 places)

BA2/1 Global Justice Challenge by dr. Tamara Takacs (25 places)

This course explores contemporary debates and controversies regarding global justice. The focus is on the following question: how to define, understand, and uphold justice in a global and globalising world?
From a human rights-centric approach, the course will proceed with an analysis of the political theories of justice along with an examination of applied and distributive justice focusing on selected issues that have arisen in contemporary global dynamics: participatory rights and social/labour standards, gender/sexuality, genocide and armed conflicts, environmental concerns. The course will specifically examine the role of global governance and international organisations in the quest for a universal approach to (global) justice.

Course objectives
Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different theories and positions within the political and philosophical discussion about global justice;

  • demonstrate an ability to, both orally and in written form, present arguments and positions relevant to issues of global justice;

  • understand and critically assess the interplay between various global governance structures and actors therein;

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of select contemporary human rights concerns and of the institutional structure and constraints of global governance structures that address these concerns.


BA2/2 International Relations: on diplomacy and negotiations by dr. Paul Meerts (40 students together with 15 students of an Honours Class)

In 1899 and 1907 two international conferences – The International Hague Peace Conferences – took place with the aim to promote disarmament and peace. Unfortunately they did not prevent The Great War from 1914-1918. Despite the fact that the aims were not met at that time, the conferences are usually seen as the start of international cooperation in promoting and regulating disarmament and peace. Later on the cooperation resulted in the establishment of bodies like the United Nations

Including interactive lectures and The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, this course is about understanding and handling international negotiation processes, applying simulation- and other exercises in order to get to grips with theory and practice of handling disputes between people, companies, ministries and countries, resulting in organisational changes and the resolution of conflicts in a national and international context.

After the warming up conference in the weekend of 6 and 7 February 2021, moderated by students and the owner of Young Diplomats, the lectures of Paul Meerts start on Friday 12/2/2021 with an introduction of the subject matter, followed by an exercise to define it. After this bilateral bargaining will be practised and debriefed. The second Friday afternoon will focus on strategy and tactics, skills and styles, culture and conflict, interest and emotion. At the third Friday afternoon multilateral negotiation (UN) will be practised. The fourth Friday UN multilateral and the peace conference will be discussed, debriefed and analysed. This includes a film of a real diplomatic negotiation process.

On Friday 12/3 the written exam will take place.

Course objectives
Students will learn how to prepare, navigate and conclude complex and complicated processes. They do so by getting acquainted with the difficulties supranational and intergovernmental organizations face in getting their interests in-line: the problem of managing complexity. Moreover they will learn about the tension between competition and cooperation in the in-between models and reflect on their own behavior. You will not only analyse the procedures followed in The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, but also the process.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Have a better understanding of international political and diplomatic negotiation.

  • Have a better understanding of their own behavior and that of their fellow students/negotiators.

BA2/2 Attacking Global Problems at EU level by drs. Rob Boudewijn (30 students)

The focus of this course will be on the way the EU deals with global problems. In this module the two central policy areas are (1) Asylum and Migration policies and (2) the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. These policy areas will be taught by academic lecturers of Leiden University and experts from ministries and the national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings. The last part of the module will prepare for the “Grande Finale” of the module, a EU simulation game in which all students will represent a minister of a EU member state and were they need to come to a compromise text by that is acceptable for all delegations.

Course objectives
When students have successfully participated in this module, they:

  • Understand the formal and informal rules on the European level.

  • Understand the development of vision at EU level.

  • Have experienced the way of working in het EU policymaking arena.

  • Are able to independently analyze issues, critically examine books and research reports in scientific journals.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Individual project 5
Internship 5
Elective (Honours Class from Honours Academy Pool) 5

Semester 1 - choose 5EC

Governing Science, Society and Expertise 5
Global Justice Challenges 5
Negotiations LAB 5

Semester 2 - choose 5EC

Attacking Global Problems at EU level 5
International Relations: on diplomacy and negotiations (HC TGC) 5
Policy & Politics: Struggling to combat social inequalities 5

Third year

Year BA3 semester 2: Honours FGGA

In the winter of your final BA year the Honours coordinator will contact you about your study plan in semester 2. You can choose between three TGC courses. The courses offer you the possibility to play a consultancy role for an organization. The courses start in February and the Honours coordinator will take care of enrolment on Brightspace and in uSis.

BA3/2 Wicked Problems Lab: Working on sustainable development by dr. Yvonne Kleistra (20 places)

Many of the bigger problems facing humanity today, such as climate change, global inequality and poverty, as well as societal marginalisation and exclusion, are arguably to a greater or lesser extent wicked. Addressing wicked problems requires a different kind of thinking: a way of thinking that is not so much aimed at solving the issue at hand, but at trying to get a better understanding of what is at stake and at mapping out routes forward based on, by definition, insufficient information in a responsible manner.

The Wicked problems lab is aimed at using this other way of thinking to deal with real world wicked problems. As such, we build upon skills and knowledge gained during the honours class to help address a real-world wicked problem. We will draw upon theoretical notions, concepts and models from a wide arrange of scientific disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, organisation studies and policy analysis, but we will put it to good use: to be able to come up with new, potentially fortuitous, ways to approach the problem at hand.

The course consists of four interconnected elements: in-depth readings of scientific materials on the subjects of wicked problems and complexity (1), a research project on a real-world wicked problem (2), in classroom team debates and critical discussions on wicked dilemmas (3), and the writing of argumentative essays. Students are expected to have read all required texts by themselves before each meeting.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand what it means for policy issues to be complex (i.e. what it means for problems to be wicked) and why dealing with complexity requires a different way of thinking, i.e. nonlinear thinking.

  • Be knowledgeable of key theories and concepts around complexity and wicked problems.

  • Be able to critically interpret, assess, evaluate and discuss the most important dilemmas (for researchers and policy makers) around complexity and wicked problems and suggest ways to deal with them.

  • Be able to use scenario thinking (developing plausible future scenarios and narratives) to design and execute small scale studies on wicked problems.

  • Be able to give strategic advice on wicked problems to real-world policy makers on wicked problems in collaboration with other students.

BA3/2 Public Leadership Consultancy by dr. Ben Kuipers from Public Administration (30 places)

Public Leadership is much more than the collection of leaders in the public sector. It is about empowered individuals who engage creatively with their social context to improve their wellbeing and that of the people they work with. Leadership is an emergent field of study that departs from that of management studies towards the problematisation of effective leadership as a behavior rather than a trait. Leadership then, as a verb, can be exerted by individuals, groups and organisations to deal with concepts like social impact, engagement, meaning, group dynamics, change management, and purpose.

This course is designed for you to experience a real-life scenario of leadership within an organisation from the lenses of a group of consultants. In four months, you will dive deep into the current leadership challenge of a large public organisation along with four other students, developing your analytical skills to frame the issues at hand, your creative skills to research and draft solutions and your leadership skills within your group and in the final presentation. A team of experts will provide in-depth workshops and coaching sessions in order to support you in creating a harmonious and productive work environment with your teammates and in developing the skills necessary to help your clients move forward.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the role of leadership in complex organisational and societal issues.

  • Apply theories and insights from Public Leadership literature into a consulting project.

  • Analyse and reflect on the leadership approach within a public institution from a multidisciplinary perspective.

  • Develop and apply leadership skills to contribute to public objectives.

  • Develop a professional consulting report in group.

BA3/2 Enhancing a rule of law in practical ways by dr. Tamara Takacs (30 places)

Providing access to justice is key tool of empowerment for all in society and constitutes a fundamental tenet to the rule of law.

The UN SDG 16 is set to Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. This goal is particularly challenging and pressing with respect to vulnerable groups such as women, children, LGBT community, refugees and migrants. The specific rights and needs of these groups require innovative ideas to ensure that access to justice is not only an end in and of itself but also a functional reality with guarantees for equality. In parallel with efforts and achievements regarding the SDG 16, ongoing technological transformations affect but also offer opportunities for avenues of seeking justice, asserting rights and strengthening equality.

This admittedly ambitious course looks at a fundamental societal need (legal empowerment) through the prism of genuine practical relevance so as to foster innovative ideas and solutions. The practical component of the course will engage the students in crafting innovative solutions to (access to) justice based on comprehensive data collected by the Hague Institute for Innovation for Law (HiiL).

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of essential concepts of the rule of law in the context of access to justice.

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of essential concepts related to SDG 16, and illustrative examples of challenges, achievements, best practices, pitfalls.

  • Students will be able to identify challenges that are hindering legal and thus societal empowerment of (vulnerable) groups and think of transformative ways to address these.

  • Students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of rule of law culture and its relevance to society as a whole.

  • Students will be able to carry out innovative design processes to address important societal challenges to empowerment and bring about change.

  • Student will identify the impact of technological transformations on access to justice.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Individual project 5
Internship 5
Wicked Problems Lab: Working on sustainable development 5
Public Leadership Consulting 5
Enhancing a rule of law culture in practical ways 5

Honours Internship or Honours Individual Project

Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar

TGC Individual Track

Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.