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Campus The Hague: more ‘Hague’ in its DNA

Campus The Hague has forged its own identity: alongside interdisciplinarity, interaction with the city is its defining feature. ‘The campus is now a young adult. It is well beyond puberty,’ says campus chair Erwin Muller. An ambitious new strategy reveals this.

Muller repeatedly emphasises how the ideal of one university in two cities is becoming the reality. ‘There has been the odd bit of competition between Leiden and The Hague in the past, but since I became chair of Campus The Hague two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve been trying to put get rid of that.’ Nearly all the faculties are now active in The Hague, with plans being made for Archaeology to join in the fun. Bringing together all these disciplines in The Hague creates the interdisciplinarity that is needed for the themes that we as a university want to focus on in The Hague: international law, peace and security; globalisation and international relations; politics, public administration and public finance; urban issues; and health and patient care.

Students on the rooftop garden of the Wijnhaven building, the largest Campus The Hague building.
Students by the Wijnhaven building, the largest Campus The Hague building.

Hague DNA

The campus also wants to interact with the city. The idea is that the city is a living lab for students and researchers, and benefits from this along the way. ‘By embracing the city’s characteristic themes in many different ways, we increase the campus’s “Hague DNA”, which is precisely what we want,’ says Muller. It has struck him that the researchers and lecturers from the faculties enjoy working together in The Hague and getting their teeth into something new. ‘People seem to feel a bit freer here on the campus. Perhaps they’re that bit more enterprising.’

Own niches

Large moves from Leiden to The Hague, as was the case with the Institute of Public Administration, are no longer planned. This is clear as we go through the new Campus The Hague strategy for the coming ten years with Muller. Campus The Hague can stand on its own two feet and find its own niches. Muller gives the example of cybersecurity and cybercrime. ‘At the moment we only have one master’s programme for professionals, within the scope of the Cyber Security Academy. But not much else is happening in this area, at least not in a concerted fashion. We want to expand our teaching here because it ties in with our expertise and the subject of international law, peace and security. He adds: ‘There are plenty of plans in the strategy and associated implementation agenda [see elsewhere on the page for more details, ed.] but if institutes have other interesting ideas, they are more than welcome.’

New bachelor’s and master’s programmes

When it comes to new bachelor’s programmes, the campus – like the university as a whole – is going about it slowly but surely. The options are being explored for new bachelor’s programmes in public sector economics, sustainability and digital security, and the ambitions are greater for the master’s programmes. ‘That is where we are focusing our efforts,’ says Muller. As specified in the Campus The Hague strategy, the aim from 2024 is to launch a new master’s programme each year. But the range of master’s programmes at Campus The Hague is increasing already. The master’s in Law and Society started in September 2020 and the post-initial master’s in Advanced Population Health was recently approved. All the faculties have ideas for new master’s programmes. ‘We always make sure that these are as interdisciplinary as possible and that they align with the themes in The Hague,’ says Muller.  

Leiden University in The Hague
1999 Leiden University commences activities in The Hague
2010 Leiden University College The Hague begins
2016 Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs is named as such
2017 First lectures in Wijnhaven building at Turfmarkt

Campus The Hague now has 6,300 students and over 500 staff members. The prognosis is that over 10,000 students from Leiden University will be studying in The Hague by 2030.

More about Campus The Hague

Academy for Professionals

One of the most ambitious plans for Campus The Hague is an Academy for Professionals. This would offer programmes for professionals in various disciplines at the university. The list of ideas for programmes – which has not yet been prioritised – is long and includes: leadership, public finance, heritage, philosophy of law, migration, cybersecurity, research on research, language and law, and argumentation and debate. This gem of an academy will offer a wide range of executive master’s and modular courses that professionals can follow alongside their regular work.

Large lecture hall in the Wijnhaven building.

Post-initial master’s programmes

Back to the plan in the strategy for a new post-initial master’s programme each year from 2024. How does this relate to the Academy for Professionals? Muller: ‘We are discussing and assessing how great a need there is for post-initial master’s programmes. The Advanced Master’s at the Faculties of Law and FGGA might be successful, but doesn’t mean that the same will be true for all disciplines. We may decide not to opt for the modular form at all in other disciplines. We’re not quite sure yet.’

About Erwin Muller
1988 Degree in Public Administration from Erasmus University Rotterdam
1992 Law degree from Erasmus University Rotterdam
1994 PhD from Leiden University
2000 Professor of Safety, Security and Law at Leiden University
2004 Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School
2018 Chair of Campus The Hague and Dean of the Faculty of Governance
          and Global Affairs

Muller (1965) is both Chair of Campus The Hague and Dean of the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. As Professor of Safety, Security and Law, he is formally affiliated with the Faculty’s Institute for Security and Global Affairs. He explains how he has always tried to connect theory with practice, at the intersection between security and governance. He and Uri Rosenthal (Emeritus Professor in Public Administration at Leiden) were ahead of their time when, in the mid-1980s, they set up the COT Institute for Security and Crisis Management to offer training and advice. Before his current role, Muller was vice-chair of the Dutch Safety Board, also during the research into the MH17 plane crash.

Muller’s current role is also at the point where theory and practice meet: linking Leiden research to Hague themes. He often talks to the Executive Board, deans and institutes about their plans for Campus The Hague, brings people together and often confers with the municipality of The Hague, for instance about accommodation on the campus. He enjoys this role. ‘The faculties come up with ideas. We – my team and I – can only do what we do if we work together with all the faculties and institutes. I help look at the opportunities presented by the ideas and whether yet more interdisciplinary benefit and Hague DNA stands to be gained. If you ask me, The Hague has real value as a laboratory for new forms of teaching and research.’ Muller thinks that combining the roles of chair of Campus The Hague and dean of the Faculty of Governance is fine at this stage in the process. ‘If it looks as though a conflict of interests might arise, I’ll resign as dean.’ And what will the campus look like in ten years’ time? ‘Like a beautiful home,’ says Muller. ‘The construction phase will be completed by then, I hope.’

Hague topics

The research in The Hague – just like the teaching – focuses on the five topics above. These are the issues that will be important in the city – and the world – in the coming ten years. In addition, two of the university’s interdisciplinary programmes concentrate on The Hague. The first is Citizenship and Global Transformations, which in turn consists of two focal points: 1) Social citizenship and migration, and 2) Global transformations. It is such a broad topic that almost all of the faculties can play a role, and it also provides scope for the Centre for Urban Studies to develop further because more and more people are choosing to live in cities.

Healthier and happier The Hague

The second programme is Population Health, which is spearheaded by LUMC Campus The Hague and involves social scientists, public administration experts and data scientists. This programme will be of great help in achieving the goal of more interaction with the city and making The Hague a happier and healthier place. Muller: ‘The Hague is one of the most segregated cities in the Netherlands, with on the one hand a highly educated population that works at the ministries and other organisations and on the other impoverished districts such as Schilderswijk and Zuidwest.’ In these poorer districts there are multi-problem situations behind many a front door, and there is a strong correlation between health on the one hand and income and level of education on the other. ‘An interdisciplinary approach is extremely apposite here,’ says Muller. ‘To begin with this will be strongly data driven because you first have to know what exactly is going on. That’s why it will take a while before this programme really does benefit the population of The Hague. That’s just the way it is.’

Wijnhaven, the main Campus The Hague teaching and research building, at Turfmarkt.

Children of The Hague

Muller hopes that things will move faster for the children from these districts. ‘They are the future, and deserve extra attention. We therefore want to focus our efforts as a university on the city’s children, in the area of not just health, but also education and talent development. This could mean mentor programmes, guest lectures and projects with primary schoolchildren. By stimulating and supporting children, we want to contribute to their educational emancipation and hopefully help the city at the same time too.’

Archaeology, Maths and Physics

All seven of the university’s faculties are active on Campus The Hague. The Faculty of Archaeology is just taking its first steps in The Hague: there are ideas for training for professionals and closer collaboration with organisations in the area of the city’s heritage. The Faculty of Science may not seem to have such a presence in The Hague, but it definitely does. Muller: ‘With the topics in The Hague, you might be tempted to think of the social and behavioural sciences, humanities, law and medicine. But the natural sciences are there too: in the data-driven research, with the Computer Science and Economics or ICT in Business and the Public Sector programmes, in the research and teaching about sustainability at Leiden University College and most definitely in the AI challenges.’

Students take a selfie with the skyline of The Hague in the background.


To accommodate the increased student and staff numbers at Campus The Hague, there are plans for a new building, alongside those situated at Wijnhaven, Schouwburgstraat, Anna van Burenplein and Beehive Studenten Centre. The municipality of The Hague has plans for a Campus Boulevard, close to the Wijnhaven building. This would include a new building not only for Campus The Hague but also for other educational institutions so that they could work together. The municipality is open to any ideas Campus The Hague might have. ‘We feel really welcome, which is great,’ says Muller. ‘But I think that we also have much to contribute that benefits the municipality, directly and indirectly. Ultimately the university will be responsible for innovation. I’m quite certain of that.’

Leiden University in The Hague may not have tradition that spans centuries as it does in its hometown, but it has definitely made a start.

Text: Corine Hendriks

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