Since its inception, the Honours Academy has been a ‘testing ground’ for innovative education. An important and related policy focus is sharing the acquired knowledge, so that the benefits gained from this testing ground can also be applied in other places. A third focus area is inclusiveness, given that Honours education must be accessible for everyone who is willing and able to do more.
The Honours Academy aims to be a ‘testing ground’ for education and talent development, and therefore supports educational innovation (by both teaching staff and students) and connects with other faculty and inter-faculty education projects and partners.
To investigate how Virtual Reality can be used in education, every year the Honours College organises an Honours Class 'Learning through Virtual Reality'.This introduces students to the possibilities of VR, which can then be used in teaching. In 2017, for example, students designed a 3D model of a piece of DNA and a virtual environment in which children can learn to deal with negative emotions), while in 2016 the Honours Academy arranged for VR recordings to be made of special University locations and then handed out VR glasses to students and staff.
Student At Your Desk
Another project that exemplifies this testing ground concept is the StudentAYD project, where students help the teaching staff in their faculty to introduce innovative teaching methods. It brings teaching staff and students into direct contact and enables maximum use of students’ knowledge.
Together with students and teaching staff, the Honours Academy aims to form a community of practice, in which the developments from the testing ground can be shared. This allows the Honours Academy to truly be a place for educational innovation. In line with Leiden University’s vision on teaching and learning (Learning @ Leiden), the Honours Academy supports teaching staff in implementing the innovative teaching methods acquired in Honours education (and elsewhere). In 2016, for instance, this resulted in the ‘Design Thinking’ project, involving an exchange between school students and teaching staff from Leiden, Ljubljana, Brno and Plzen.
For the Honours Academy, it is very important that Honours education is accessible for all students who are willing and able to do more. Achieving a varied intake of students into Honours education has therefore been a major policy focus for several years. Partly by appointing talent coaches and mentors who are the first in their family to follow an academic study programme and/or have a non-Western background, the Honours Academy is aiming for a student population that is a reflection of society. To promote inclusiveness, the Honours College has established a working group in this area, whose first projects can be launched in 2018. In addition, the Pre-University College is working in conjunction with Saturday schools in the Schilderswijk district of The Hague, in order to reach a new target group of school students (read more about this under Partners).
The formal basis of the Honours Academy is laid down in the Joint Regulations of the faculties of Leiden University.
The Honours Academy Regulations were established on the basis of the Joint Regulations, determining the formal aspects of the Honours Academy, such as its management, organisation, and education.