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Thesis workshop: ‘Something is actually being done with my research’

The LDE universities work together with the Municipality of The Hague in The Hague Southwest thesis workshop. On 28 October students from the first group to graduate presented their advice to policymakers from the municipality. Lilian van Leeuwen, one of the students, wrote her thesis about the perceived safety of the residents of the Moerwijk neighbourhood in The Hague.

The thesis workshop is the initiative of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre of Governance of Migration and Diversity and aims to bring together the students and the city. They have joined forces with the Municipality of The Hague. The workshop gives students from the three LDE universities the chance to explore societal challenges in The Hague Southwest region. As well as writing their thesis, they translate academic theory into practical policy advice, which they present to the municipality at the end of the course.

Translating research into policy

Lilian van Leeuwen graduated from Leiden University this year, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration, specialising in Economics and Governance. She chose the thesis workshop because of the way research is translated into policy: ‘I like choosing topical subjects. And the idea of something actually being done with my research really appealed. You don’t usually do a final-year internship on the Master’s in Public Administration, so I thought this was a good way to write a thesis with advice that really gets read.’

Lilian in The Hague

Residents as policymakers

For her research Lilian went to the Moerwijk neighbourhood of The Hague: ‘One of the problems in Moerwijk is that the residents don’t feel safe. To get them to come up with solutions I put them in the shoes of policymakers: I outlined various situations, with certain restrictions such as budgetary one. It was up to the residents to decide how they would tackle the situation.’

It wasn’t always easy to talk to people: ‘To begin with it was hard to find people who wanted to talk about possible solutions: with Covid, people were stuck at home, and not everyone wants to take part in an interview. So I visited community centres in Moerwijk. Everyone there was up for a chat. Residents who didn’t want to take part in an interview often did want to share their ideas in an informal chat, and these helped me too.’

What is The Hague Southwest thesis workshop?

The thesis workshop gives students from different disciplines the opportunity to conduct research in The Hague Southwest. They develop their research question on the basis of real-life challenges from the Municipality of The Hague, citizens’ initiatives and residents. The translation from practice to scientific research forms the basis of the thesis. And at the end of the process, the students translate their research results into concrete strategy recommendations. Three students completed the first thesis workshop track and graduated in 2021. For more information on the thesis workshop, please contact Mandy Koenraads.

Not too much research

At the final session Lilian presented her policy advice to the municipality: ‘Developing policy advice wasn’t too difficult. My advice includes keeping an eye on how much research is being conducted in the neighbourhood. In our chats Moerwijk residents told me that a lot of research is done, but that they don’t see much in the way of results. The municipality really should take note of this.’

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