Universiteit Leiden

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Science for Sustainable Societies (BSc)

How do you involve a local community to tackle biodiversity loss? How do you create awareness and political movement on climate change? And how do you find a balance between environmental impacts and economic needs when it comes to pollution? These are examples of core questions at the heart of a new and interdisciplinary Bachelor: Science for Sustainable Societies. Within this programme you learn to combine natural and social science insights and methods, to help you understand and address complex sustainability challenges such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss in the context of human systems.

Thijs Bosker

Programme director & Associate Professor in Environmental Sciences

Thijs Bosker

As programme director and teacher of this new interdisciplinary bachelor programme, I’m looking forward to work with a new generation of sustainability change makers. In our programme, students learn how to combine and integrate different knowledge, skills, and methods from both the natural and social sciences. This interdisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges is crucial to fully understand these complex problems. We combine larger-scale lectures with small-scale seminars, during which we critically evaluate topics and discuss important challenges. We don’t just do this in the classroom, but also by a hands-on approach. You will go on excursions, do fieldwork, participate in a sustainability challenge, and do your own research project. In addition, you will get guest lectures from organisations and companies.

Marja Spierenburg

Professor in the Anthropology of Sustainability

Marja Spierenburg

Moving towards more sustainable societies and futures requires an integrated approach of the social and the ecological. It requires not only an understanding of the earth’s systems, but also a deep understanding of the societal context of sustainability problems ànd their solutions. What drives people, what kind of futures do they imagine, and what are the opportunities and barriers they experience? How do we ensure that transitions towards sustainability are just, and do not further increase inequalities – both between and within countries? In this programme you will explore these important questions in living labs and through practical, hands-on assignments.

Natascha Zwaal

Advisor education and research at Wereld Natuur Fonds

Natascha Zwaal

Complex sustainability challenges ask for a new generation of professionals that have the knowledge and skills to combine natural and social sciences. At WWF-NL, we work on dozens of projects around the world that all ask for an integrated approach. WWF-NL is currently involved in 11 large ecoregions in the world that cover many more countries. Each system is a complicated set of stakeholders -including policy makers, business, and local people- and all kind of natural and social processes. Only working on a system-level really leads to concrete long-term results. Knowledge and skills of both natural and social sciences are therefore essential in the projects that we conduct at WWF-NL.

Why study Science for Sustainable Societies at Leiden University?

  • Interdisciplinary approach: you will learn how to  apply an interdisciplinary approach to complex sustainability challenges;
  • A local-to-global and hands-on approach: you will learn about local initiatives and how they compare and differ across locations and across scale;
  • Research led and practice-oriented: you want to learn about and conduct research yourself on important topics;
  • Personal attention: our small groups allow plenty of room for personal attention and development.

Read more about why you should study at Leiden University.

This programme is definitely for you if:

  • You are eager to contribute to a more sustainable society.
  • You have a broad interest in both natural sciences and social sciences and want to combine knowledge from different disciplines to understand and work on sustainability challenges.
  • You are keen on working in groups, doing research, and going out in the field to study practical issues and the communities involved in solving these challenges
  • You want to learn key transferable skills for future jobs, including collaborating, project management, presenting, programming, data analysis, field work and interviewing.
  • You are keen to study with students and staff with different cultural backgrounds, and develop a global perspective on sustainability challenges.
  • You are not afraid of to challenge yourself, for example by translating complex issues to a broad audience, or by doing some number crunching.

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