Honours programme in Humanities to begin a shorter option

23 Jul 2021

The faculties of Liberal Arts and Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies want to offer a shorter Honours programme to attract more students. Participants in this year’s first pilot are enthusiastic.

‘The faculties noticed that many students wanted to do more’, said Annemarie Hinten-Nooijen, the coordinator of the Honours Academy. ‘But they often think that two years is too long a period to commit to an Honours trajectory.’

So this academic year the liberal arts faculties ran a pilot with an optional Honours course that lasted for only one semester: Making your mark. The Bachelor’s students in this pilot focused more on reflection than on expanding or deepening their subject matter, said coordinator Martijn Stevens. ‘We challenged students to work on their ‘personal brand’ together with an external coach whom we had hired.’

Branding

They were asked to reflect on their future societal positions as a humanities scholar and how they could learn to brand themselves. That might sound like marketing, but it isn’t, Stevens emphasised. ‘It’s in line with the university’s mission of generating a significant impact.’

‘How do you do that in a way that suits you? That’s the central question of the programme. Everyone has their own unique skills. You learn all sorts of things at the university, but one student feels more comfortable focusing on language – for example, in an article or podcast – and the other prefers to make something with their hands.’

Out-of-the-box

Sterre Turling. Own photo

Sterre Turling (20) was one of the five participants in the pilot. A relief, said the student, who has a Bachelors in English and is now completing her Bachelor’s in Islamic Studies. ‘I wanted to do something beyond the beaten academic paths. This was a great out-of-the-box opportunity.’

She developed a concept for a theatre production on the theme of ‘recreational studies’. ‘When I tell people what I’m studying, they quickly ask me what the purpose is. I’ve often wondered where that question comes from.’

Sterre thought that theatre would be a good form to explore this question. ‘I really enjoy theatre and humour. I think that this approach makes it easier for people to think about what they really mean by ‘recreational studies’. When do they consider a study programme useless and why?’

‘I appeared to have a talent for cabaret’

At the final presentations of the Honours course, Turling presented her plan as a sort of cabaret. The fact that the audience responded so enthusiastically was a stimulating insight for her, just as coordinator Stevens had hoped. Turling: ‘This is evidently one of my strengths, and I have to keep that in mind.’

The pilot will continue, probably in the second semester. In the autumn the coordinators hope to attract liberal arts students as well as students at the faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. The programme will eventually be offered twice a year, said Stevens.

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