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Jan Sleutels is new chair of Humanities Lab

He is the chair of the Faculty Council, Director of Education at the Institute for Philosophy and a Fellow of the Leiden Teachers’ Academy, and was recently appointed for three years as chair of the Humanities Lab. This is the Honours College programme of the Faculty of Humanities for students of all Leiden University faculties who want to do more in addition to their regular study programme. We spoke to Jan about his appointment and his ideas.

Congratulations on your appointment. Why were you chosen for this role?

Jan: “I think it was because I have a lot of experience with all kinds of Honours Academy programmes. I was also involved five years ago when the Humanities Lab was set up. Before then, the various study programmes – including Philosophy – each offered its own Honours programme. The Humanities Lab was the result of bringing all those programmes together. Arie Verhagen, who is now stepping down as chair, was the initiator of the Lab and, together with a team, we set it up.”

Why do you find Honours programmes so interesting?

Jan: “The students in Honours programmes are very special: they come from many different study programmes, they all bring their own individual perspective, and they are super-motivated. As a philosopher, I’m already located in between all the disciplines anyway, so I feel completely at home here. Honours education also offers more freedom, because it’s less bound by the protocols and rules than ordinary study programmes. There’s much more room to experiment. I can trial things here that I’d be less likely to dare in the regular classes. For example, experimenting with new kinds of collaboration, with Pitch2Peer or with assignments that aren’t just the usual essay.”

How will you combine your role as chair with your other roles?

Jan: “At the moment I’m still the chair of our Philosophy study programmes, but one of my colleagues will take over that role on 1 September. I’m still going to be chair of the Faculty Council and a Fellow of the Teachers’ Academy, but we’re currently looking for someone to be my successor as the Institute of Philosophy’s Director of Education.”

Will there be changes at the Humanities Lab?

Jan: “In the short term, definitely not, but I have a few plans for the next few years. We know that some things could be improved: for example, the block teaching has a very tight schedule and doesn’t leave much room for joint activities for the whole Humanities Lab. And by now it’s also time to refresh the range of courses that are offered. It’s all very exciting!”

Students can choose from three tracks in the Humanities Lab:

- Expedition: a challenging, small-scale and intensive track worth 30 EC, with many different options.
- Solo: an individual track worth 30 EC, alongside the regular bachelor’s programme.
- Double+: students taking two bachelor’s programmes at the same time can also be eligible for an Honours certificate.

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