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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 (wicked) 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 Brussels as well assimulation games and an assignment for the municipality of The Hague. 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;

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

  • Use bilateral- and multilateral negotiation skills;

  • Understand the phenomenon wicked problems;

  • Analyze wicked problems and suggest ways to deal with them with respect to these problem's complexity;

  • Use techniques and methods such as visualization, stakeholder analysis, intergrative negotiation, and framing/reframing; and

  • Give policy advice to real-world policy makers on the wicked problems they struggle with based on research and literature.


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 didactical principles is used to reach the aims of the programme: lectures, workshops, case study sessions, simulations, field trips, invited speakers and assignments, personal and leadership development conversations, HC Internships and Individual Projects. 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 tackle global challenges and to succeed in the Honours Track, that is to finish it. You should be willing to develop your personality and personal leadership and willing to connect with the other students. Connection brings new insights for everyone. You 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 where they learn techniques and methods and where they gain personal impact. That is, if they are open to the specific way of learning in this course (method of School of Life). After this training students can choose 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 two- or three-days working visit to Brussels.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Competences Lab 5
Elective (Tackling Global Challenges) 5

And one of these courses:

Public Leadership 5
Attacking Global Problems at EU level 5

Third year

The third year (10 or 15 ECTS, the latter if students enter TGC in their second BA year) aims at experiencing and mapping the future. In this year students can choose an academic or personal choice of 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 Wicked problems Lab. They receive an assignment from the municipality of The Hague a bout a wicked problem.
Students who entered TGC in the second BA year can complete the Honours College with an extra Honours Class or LUC Class, or do an HC Internship and an HC Individual Project. It is als possible to double the duration of the HC Internship or take two HC Internships.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Wicked Problems Lab: working with governance, leadership and social innovation 5
Individual project 5
Internship 5