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Working towards a healthier society: learn all about it in this new minor

Why are health problems such as loneliness and obesity so persistent? What causes them to occur more frequently in some neighbourhoods than others? And how can we solve them? You will learn about these topics in the new minor 'Dynamics of a Healthy Society'.

Sandra van Dijk is an assistant professor in the Health, Medical, and Neuropsychology unit at the Institute of Psychology.
Sandra van Dijk is an Assistant Professor in the Health, Medical, and Neuropsychology unit at the Institute of Psychology.

'No single discipline can solve the major challenges in the field of health and well-being on its own. Health problems are always more complex than they seem at first glance,'  says psychologist Sandra van Dijk. 'Take obesity, for example. Knowledge of healthy nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle in a larger brain teaser. If someone experiences a lot of financial stress, has mold on the walls, and feels lonely, eating healthily suddenly becomes much more difficult.'

Now, with the new minor Dynamics of a Healthy Society, you can approach these types of problems from various disciplines. Van Dijk explains: 'In the minor, you work with students from different programs in interdisciplinary teams, conducting fieldwork and collaborating with organizations such as the municipality, policymakers, GGD, and citizens themselves. You tackle real health problems from everyday practice, where you mainly learn by doing.'

For the fieldwork, we collaborate with Leren met de Stad and Impact at the Core, organizations that teach students to make social impact. In addition, we combine knowledge from various cities to establish a solid scientific foundation. We look through the lens of public administration, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This minor brings together all that expertise.'

To what kind of students does this minor fit?

'Students who like to look beyond the boundaries of their own field, look at a problem from different perspectives and make social impact. And students who like to go outside, be entrepreneurial.'

Want to know more? 

You can apply for this minor from 8 May to 30 May. 
Read more about 'Dynamics of a Healthy Society'.

Curious about the other minors?
Minors - Leiden University (universiteitleiden.nl)

So what makes this minor unique?

'We are, for the first time, collaborating with universities of applied sciences. Participatory methods and working with societal partners may be relatively new to university students, but students from applied sciences are more accustomed to it. On the other hand, this minor may be particularly attractive to students from applied sciences because we approach practice from a strong scientific foundation across various disciplines.

Everyone talks about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, but as a student, you may not always have the necessary skills to apply it in practice upon graduation. Students often struggle to translate their subject-specific knowledge into practical problems. In this minor, you learn exactly that.'

What does an average week of this minor look like?

'The minor consists of four courses and lasts for ten weeks. The days are quite packed. You have classes in both Leiden and Rotterdam, and every week, a day is scheduled for fieldwork, together with societal partners. On Fridays, you come together to discuss your experiences, with a focus on the ethical aspect of fieldwork. You also discuss your next steps and explore how to apply what you have learned from an interdisciplinary perspective.'

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