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Introduction Adults and Children in a Polarising World



In the last few decades, diversity in society appears to be increasingly problematized. Discussions about migration turn into polarised debates in which real or alleged ‘ethnic’ and ‘cultural’ differences are considered problematic. Issues of gender often take centre stage in these debates. These debates also touch upon issues of socio-economic inequality, for example the issue of access to education.

How can we study and understand these discussions? Why can issues of diversity be so divisive and polarising? What are the effects of polarisation, and how can negative effects be mitigated?
The main goal of this introductory course is to provide students with fundamental knowledge and insights for the study of diversity and polarisation. With this knowledge, students will be able to study more specific issues regarding diversity and polarisation in courses they elect to follow later in the Honours programme. Another goal is to provide students with knowledge and insights with which they will be able to understand and analyze contemporary (political) discussions on diversity and polarisation.

Learning objectives

At successful completion of this introductory course, you will:

  • Be familiar with fundamental scientific insights regarding the categorization of human differences;

  • Understand the need for a historical perspective in studying (discussions on) diversity and polarisation in society;

  • Understand how the use of classifications (such as ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘gender’) can have social effects;

  • Understand how classifications such as ‘ethnicity’, ‘race’ and ‘gender’ are related to socio-economic inequality;

  • Be able to analyse and take part in contemporary scientific and political discussions on diversity and polarisation;

  • Be able to reflect on or think of interventions that prevent inequality and polarisation in a diverse society.

Mode of instruction

In this course, your active participation is required from the start. Before the first meeting, you will read texts on fundamental issues regarding (the history) of classification of human differences. In the first meeting, you will be challenged to critically examine these texts. You will also select a specific case to study in-depth together with a fellow student. In the second meeting, the instructor will present a case study as a source of inspiration for you to tackle your own case study. In the third meeting, you will debate with your fellow students on core issues of globalisation and polarisation. The course is concluded with the presentation of your case study in a poster presentation.





Number of participants

Maximum: 50 participants


You will receive qualitative feedback on your poster. Assessment of your participation in the categories insufficient, competent or excellent will be based on commitment during class, courage and/or skill in debate and innovativeness and thoroughness of your poster.


Date Time Location Room
Nov 21 18:30-21:00h Leiden PDLC 5A23
Nov 28 18:30-21:00h Leiden PDLC 5A23
Dec 12 18:30-21:00h Leiden PDLC 5A23
Dec 14 13:00-17:00h Leiden PDLC 1A20


Registration via your personal studyplan.

Contact information

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Igor Boog