Complex Societal Challenges

Course description Complex Societal Challenges
Year: 2015-2016
Catalog number: 6450ES9
  • Prof.dr. R.T. Griffiths
  • R. Zwijnenberg
  • Dr. A. Kallergi
  • T.J. Baar MA
Language: English
Blackboard: Yes
EC: 5.0
Level: 300
Period: Semester 1, Block I
  • No Elective choice
  • No Contractonderwijs
  • No Exchange
  • No Study Abroad
  • No Evening course
  • No A la Carte
  • No Honours Class

Admission requirements

Admission is conditional on submission for the minor Entrepreneurship for Society
A knowledge of Dutch is not necessary. You should have obtained your propedeuse before starting this minor.


The course Complex Societal Challenges teaches you (1) to reflect on the role of science in society, and (2) how to analyse a complex societal challenge.

This course helps you to achieve a level of interdisciplinary thinking by explicitly connecting sciences to social challenges such as health, environment, education, ethics, and policy. Three challenge domains are introduced: Social Integration, Life Sciences and Information Technology.

• The Social Integration track shares perspectives on immigrant participation in society. Looking into their contribution to the labour force, in culture and by increasing diversity thought. Immigrants have the potential to enrich a society. Yet, even in the second and third generation, many communities still languish in relative poverty.
• The Life Sciences track discusses biotechnological solutions for global challenges that are currently emerging. These developments have the potential to transform existing industries and giving rise to new ones. This track examines innovation in the life sciences with respect to environmental challenges and the move to a biobased economy.
• The Information Technology track assesses the potential of data for humanity. Technology has shaped and continues to shape society. The bilateral connection between technology and society is motivated, and potential impacts are identified.

Course objectives

After this course you will be able to:

… study the fields LS, IS and IT
… assess the potential of LS, IS and IT for a societal challenge
… reflect on the role of scientific advancement in society
… report on your study, assessment and reflection of scientific for society
… write a literature review on a complex societal challenge
… execute a rough stakeholder analysis
… benchmark relevant projects
… define a challenge and develop a MTP


Sep 3/ 10h-12h: Policy: The data revolution
Sep 3/ 13h-15h: Introduction to the field of Life Science
Sep 3/ 16h-18h: Social integration, the concept

Sep 10/ 10h-12h: Behaviour: Changing behaviour
Sep 10/ 13h-15h: Applications in practice from the the field of Life Science
Sep 10/ 16h-18h: Setting the stage for social integration

Sep 17/ 10h-12h: Reflection on the application in practice from the field of Life Science
Sep 17/ 13h-15h: Governance: Responsible data use
Sep 17/ 16h-18h: Policies for social integration

Mode of instruction


Course Load

This is a rough breakdown of the 140 hour course load

• 18 hours are spent on attending lectures and workshops;
• 21 hours are spent on preparing for the seminars;
• 8 hours to write an individual essay;
• 16 hours to write a group report.

Assessment method

Assessment and grading methods:
• Individual essay assignment 60% of final grade
• Group report 40% of final grade – Rounding off grades to 0,5 decimales is subject to peer review
• Obligatory attendance of the seminars (Pass or Fail)



Reading list

Fekete, L., Bouteldja, N. and Mühe, M. (2010) Alternative Voices on Integration in Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. London (available online).
Vroome, T., Verkuyten, M., & Martinovic, B. (2014). Host national identification of immigrants in the Netherlands. International Migration Review, 48(1), 76-102 (via LUB electronic).
Dukes, T. & Musterd, S. (2012). Towards social cohesion: bridging national integration rhetoric and local practice: the case of the Netherlands. Urban Studies, 49(9), 1981-1997 (via LUB electronic).
Ismail, S. & Geest, van, J. (2015). Exponential organisations. Chapter 3 & 4.

The order of the literature varies and is subject to change, please check Blackboard for the latest update.


You have to register for both the minor and the course in Usis. Registration for this course only is not possible.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



Sjoerd Louwaars


This course is part of the minor in Entrepreneurship for Society. You can only take the course as part of this minor.