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New Honours Classes on health and nature

In March, the Honours Academy will be launching two new Master Honours Classes. In these classes, students with a curious mind will have the opportunity to do research into the relationship between humans and nature or to work on an innovation for the healthcare sector. ‘This will allow students from different disciplines to discover and tackle real-life challenges.’

In Innovating Health and Well-being through Entrepreneurship (5 EC), which is offered alongside the regular Master’s degree programmes at Leiden University, students will explore innovations for the healthcare and welfare sector.‘For example, how can people with a low level of literacy learn how to stay healthy’, explains coordinator Lex van Delden (Leyden Academy).Another potential assignment might ask the students to think about the design of a new nursing home, ‘which puts enjoyment of life rather than care front and centre,’ says Van Delden.

Feasible and affordable

This course is all about bringing students closer to the end users of care and welfare, says Van Delden. ‘In addition to discussing the theory and the students engaging with experts, those who receive care also play a vital role in getting to the heart of the problem.’ In groups of four, supported by a coach from the university, the students prepare a presentation of their plan. ‘The main objective is to demonstrate that the plan is also marketable, in other words that it’s feasible and affordable.’

'We are going to look at questions such as if a river can have a legal status'

In the other new Honours Class, Planet in Peril: Exploring Human Relations with Nature (5 EC), students explore the relationship between humans and nature. This course revolves around nature, which is currently under considerable pressure. ‘There are currently very few interdisciplinary courses and programmes that look at how we ended up in this situation and what we can learn from it’, says educationalist Harriët Sjerps who is responsible for the class alongside Norbet Peeters. ‘In our course we are going to look at our relation with nature trough the ages and think about questions such as whether a river can have a legal status.’

Song or poem

For the end product of this course, the students are required to create a form of expression which reveals the relationship between humans and nature. ‘That could be a song or a poem, or something else entirely such as a painting, infographic or a plea. It’s all about bringing together art and reason,’ says Sjerps. Students have to look for their instincts and try to ‘express their own relation with nature’. The course is mainly assessed based on the portfolio, in which the student justifies their position and explains why they chose their particular art form.

Motivated Master’s students can apply for the two new courses from 3 February. Each Master Honours Class aims to bridge the gap between Master’s students and society. Students work on a social innovation or a problem using academic theory as a starting point. The classes Circular Economy: from Challenge to Opportunity (10 EC) and Social Innovation in Action (10 EC) started earlier this year. They were offered for the first time last year.

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