Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University College The Hague

Educational Innovation Hub

Since its founding, LUC has been a college of educational development and experimentation. Its mission statement identifies the college as “a site of innovation in pedagogy, curriculum design, and student well-being,” and it applies a student-centred approach to learning throughout its BA and BSc degree programmes.

To highlight the application of staff creativity across the college, the Educational Innovation Hub has been created to showcase some of the many examples of applied innovation that are going on. Many of these examples involve projects that have successfully won innovation grants or been awarded prizes for excellence. The projects range across all of the six majors that students can choose from, illustrating the strength of the innovatory identity and purpose of Leiden University College.

The BOCA project explores new forms of communicating academic knowledge as a way to strengthen the connection between the university and society. To do so, the project has two strategic vectors. The first, more analytical, aims at assessing different forms of communication and expression at play in academic spaces (for example, through collaboration with the Campus Speaks initiative of Humanities Across Borders). The second, more practical, aims at promoting actions to develop alternative forms of communication within the academic space, as well as between the academic space and wider society. These two vectors emphasize the importance of the situatedness of universities (in a specific time and place), as well as their potential to guide social transformations (at individual and collective levels).

BOCA combines research expertise in the humanities (arts, linguistics, literature) and social sciences (anthropology, sociology) to unsettle dominant practices of academic knowledge production and dissemination, such as linguistic nationalism, socially hierarchies, and those defined by disembodied and mostly written forms. We intervene in the University space to nurture other forms of communicating academic knowledge, and in so doing contribute to positive transformation of the university as a force for societal change across borders. 

In particular, BOCA conducts academic interventions that highlight more performative and experiential forms of knowledge. Taking a multilingual and embodied approach, the production and dissemination of knowledge (in both teaching and publication practices) could overcome dominant practices, and find new forms of academic communication and connection, within particular university settings and beyond.

This project is made possible thanks to a KIEM seed grant for stimulating inter-disciplinary cooperation.

KIEM grants

Humanities Across Borders

Library of Colombian Women Writers

This Virtual International Collaboration involved three partners: Students from Leiden University College, MA honors students from the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, and Home Visitors from the Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust. Under the guidance of Professor Prah, Dr. Nicki Dawson, and myself, the partnership aimed to analyse home visit reports, documenting daily challenges faced by mothers of newborns in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, where the Trust is located.

This virtual collaboration was integrated into the ‘Good Parenting’ project at Leiden University College, which centers on care-work and evidence in parenting interventions. It was also integrated into a course on the architecture of development aid at the University of Johannesburg. The project focused on how mothers experienced precarity, and through live virtual meetings and WhatsApp groups students and home visitors exchanged their unique perspectives with each other. The partnership will also result in a series of blog posts on the Ububele and Alex News websites addressing the challenges faced by mothers in Alexandra.

The opportunity to collaborate with students from the University of Johannesburg and the home visitors of Ububele has allowed me to learn about different ways of life and reflect on topics I would not have considered otherwise. The lessons I learned from this research clinic will stay with me for other classes and in life. I really value the opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding of the world in this way.” - Leiden University College Student

“Our work is hard, difficult and sometimes enjoyable. It was such a great honor to learn coding from both Leiden and Johannesburg university students. And now we have a ‘code book’. Amazing… Thank you so much for your patience and tolerance with us and hope for a good relationship going forward.”Thandiwe Khumalo (Ububele Home Visitor)

This project has been made possible by a Virtual Interaction Collaboration (VIS) grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education.

‘Good’ Parenting?

Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust

Alex News

Leiden University wants to play a leading role in the transition to a sustainable future, contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the knowledge that emerges from research and teaching. The aim of this project is to assess whether the SDGs can be used to map out what programmes are already doing in terms of sustainability and how the SDGs can be used effectively as a tool for curriculum design.

The interdisciplinary program focused on Global Challenges at Leiden University College provides a perfect testing ground to assess the critical usefulness of SDGs for organising our curriculum. There are already strong links with the SDGs across our four global challenges of Diversity, Sustainability, Peace & Justice, and Prosperity, which form the core of our educational programme. This project will not only directly benefit the College’s programme but I expect it to also generate broader outcomes and best practices that will valuable for adapting other programmes across higher education. 

This project is made possible through the award of a Leiden Teachers’ Academy fellowship.

The Sustainable University

In The College Project, students study the history and contemporary politics of higher education, and specifically the theory and practice of Leiden University College as an institution. They then apply their learning to research projects aimed at helping the College develop and improve its living and learning environment. In the first half of the semester, class sessions alternate between discussions on assigned readings and conversations with invited speakers from the College community (college leadership, recruitment and admissions teams, as well as colleagues working on particular skills such as academic writing, global citizenship, or efforts to “decolonize” the curriculum). In the second half of the semester, students carry out group projects to develop their own vision on ‘College business’. Past projects have included constructively critical reviews of LUC’s first-year curriculum, academic advising system, and global citizenship programme. The course represents a unique participatory opportunity for students to learn about and contribute to improving their particular ‘slice’ of higher education. It also gives them an opportunity to observe and analyse power dynamics in a large-scale institution, thus preparing them to navigate other kinds of institutions after graduation. Overall, this unique course fosters a spirit of curiosity, generosity, and empathetic engagement.

The Ecology Project gets students out of their college building and into the natural world within and beyond The Hague. The course introduces students to the theory and practice of “place-based education,” a mode of teaching that uses the local community and environment as a starting point for exploring a range of ideas and perspectives across the curriculum. This works on two levels. First, students get an opportunity to learn more for themselves about the social, political, and ecological setting of South Holland and the Rhine-Meuse river delta where The Hague is situated. This is valuable not only for international students as newcomers to the region, but also for Dutch students who start to see their own country from a new perspective. At the same time, students develop skills in teaching others—namely, secondary-school students from schools in the region—about (and through) the natural environments of The Hague. Around half the class sessions take place out-of-doors and are developed in collaboration with IVN, a Dutch nature-education NGO with experience in training nature guides. In exchange for that training, and based both on their own experiences and on academic research, students help develop ways to make nature education relevant for teenagers, an age-group that is often hard to reach.

IVN Natuureducatie

IVN Natuureducatie

The aim of this project is to investigate the systemic flows of textile waste from European countries to lower income countries, in order to influence policies towards a more sustainable and fair textile sector. Around 90% of the EU’s used textiles are exported to lower-income countries, where they are often burned or dumped in landfills, contributing to environmental pollution and health hazards. Our team is made up of researchers from Leiden University College, Public Administration, and the Institute of Environmental Sciences. Taking a transdisciplinary approach, we are planning a meeting with the various stakeholders involved in this field in the Netherlands. The aim is to share and create knowledge through a participatory workshop to be held in The Hague in May 2024. 

This project is made possible thanks to a Global Transformations and Governance Challenges seed grant.

Global Transformations and Governance Challenges (GTGC)

Together with partners at Northern Illinois University (USA) and the Virtual Federal University (Burma), this trans-continental collaboration will focus on food and digital storytelling. Using the added potential of virtual classroom interactions, students will meet online once a week to share information and together review the background readings. All participants will be trained in conducting interviews and collecting stories on personal experiences, with the stories being displayed on a jointly-produced website to share how food is perceived in different locations. The syllabus and other teaching materials will be made available via an online repository to facilitate international collaboration and foster engaged learning in resource-constrained environments.

This project has been made possible by a Virtual Interaction Collaboration (VIS) grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education.

Virtual Federal University

Globally, university students' mental health and well-being are under pressure. Recent studies show nearly 70% of students face emotional distress, loneliness, imposter syndrome, anxiety, and/or depression. Additionally, there's a gap between the skills employers want and what students have at graduation. Research indicates that universities are not adequately addressing student well-being or the changes in the job market. As an assistant professor of public policy and international development at Leiden University College (LUC), I have encountered these issues among students first-hand. After winning the Leiden University Best Teacher of the Year Award in 2021, I founded the Future-Ready Coaching Academy (FRCA). The academy's goal is to improve student well-being and prepare them for the labour market through soft skills coaching.

The Future Ready Coaching Academy

Together with partners at Maseno University (Kenya), Chong Shan Medical University (Taiwan), and Hiveonline (Mozambique), students critically examine the application of technological innovations for achieving social good. The project focuses on examining how technology is used to address social (e.g. gender inequalities), environmental (e.g. agricultural production), and health and wellbeing challenges (e.g. infectious diseases) in different parts of the world. Students learn from experts and researchers working in the field to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues, ultiamtely aiming to create a more sustainable future. Students will also learn some of the challenges that come with applying different technologies, ensuring that it is used ethically and responsibly in order to realise its full potential.

This project has been made possible by a Virtual Interaction Collaboration (VIS) grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education.

In this cross-major project, students from a World Politics class on the politics of climate change teamed up with those in an Earth, Energy and Sustainability class studying the science of climate change to prepare for a mock international climate treaty negotiation.

The students from the climate science group provided the data needed to understand how the changing climate will impact various countries around the world. The politics students used this scientific data to inform their strategy during the climate treaty negotiations. The simulated negotiation setting allowed the students to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical exercise that mirrored real-world treaty negotiations. The collaboration provided students a realistic experience of the complexities involved in negotiating international agreements on climate change. 

This cross-major experiment clearly illustrated both the need for and the difficulties related to combining scientific insights with political strategy in the context of climate negotiations such as the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP).

The Learning Mindset is a research group that co-creates educational products designed to enhance students’ autonomy and self-regulation, to help them make their education more meaningful and productive.

We are inspired by the notion of development as increasing capabilities – or the effective opportunities to become who you want to be. While providing students with opportunities is important, we focus on helping students develop the ability to see and take the opportunities that are already there.

We believe that this ability can be strengthened through specific forms of prompted reflection.

Our prompts focus on key steps of autonomous, self-regulated learning (goal setting, practicing, feedback, and processing).

The reflection formats we use include writing (e.g. journaling), speaking (e.g. conversation or intervision), and thinking (introspection).

We strive to co-create products with students and educators that are easy to implement in different learning contexts (and at scale) as well as fun to use. Our research focuses on studying take-up, user experience, and impacts of our products on students’ autonomy and self-regulation. We aim to research in collaboration with partners and disseminate our products and research findings as widely as possible, open-access, via academic and non-academic outlets.

E-mail: learningmindset@leidenuniv.nl

Website: Learning Mindset

In recent years, the domestic courts of the Netherlands have produced pioneering judgements relating to climate change. The first is the Urgenda case, in which the failure of the Netherlands Government to take appropriate measures concerning climate change was held to constitute inter alia a breach of Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Another is a case initiated by Milieudefensie against Shell. These cases were instituted by NGOs claiming to act in the common interest, some purporting to represent the rights and interests of both present and future generations, in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world.

The purpose of the Research Clinic was to look at similar proceedings in other jurisdictions, building on the papers published in a Special Issue on Climate Litigation that appeared in the Chinese Journal of Environmental Law, with Maria Antonia Tigre and Otto Spijkers as editors. Participating students were asked to choose a particular jurisdiction they were familiar with – other than the Netherlands – and look for examples and possibilities for climate litigation on behalf of future generations.

The Clinic met weekly during blocks 1 and 2 of academic year 2023-2024. The students were advised to use the database of the Sabin Center as a starting point for their research, and to access the database itself. Juliette Castex chose the European Court of Human Rights; Fabian Haug chose the USA; Martina Orofino chose Canada; Sofia Debernardi chose Italy; and Dóri Kosaras chose Belgium. We invited Dr. Luísa Netto as special guest to come and speak with us on climate litigation and the theoretical issues underlying it.

Read more

On the Clinic

Learning about the complexities of global challenges is becoming more essential in higher education. However, the gaps between the knowledge students acquire in the classroom and the workplace practices they will encounter later are substantial. Simulation-based learning environments such as XR (Extended Reality) can be a vital way to overcome these gaps. By replicating real-world work scenarios, XR provides safe environments for learners to practice real-life problem-solving in diverse settings. (e.g., applying humanitarian laws in towns under occupation). Moreover, the XR experience can be shared with multiple learners online or offline, making it ideal  to integrate within the small-scale educational formats at Leiden University College. From a global perspective, XR can be used to connect educational institutions in ways that will democratize the availability of quality education.

The current project, developed together with the International Red Cross Committee, applies XR techniques for training in humanitarian law and medical assistance in conflict situations. We are developing guidelines for XR use by using empirical research tools (e.g., eye-tracking, machine learning) and then customising XR training scenarios. The research outcomes will be shared across  local and international networks, merging benefits for higher education with advantages for NGOs and feedback for the technological and industrial sectors (such as XR and eye-tracking software companies).

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