Universiteit Leiden

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Engagement with Society

The ‘Engagement with Society’ ambition is closely linked to the ‘Employability Enhancement’ and ‘Skills’ ambitions. Introducing students to social issues often gives them immediate insight into the job market they will enter. And working on social issues gives them the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience.

Engagement with society

Our teaching seeks to prepare students to become academic professionals and engaged citizens who are well-informed about social, political and professional developments. They are made aware of their own role and influence within these developments.

We are committed to stimulating and strengthening the social awareness of our students by encouraging them to engage with social issues during their time at our university. On this page, you can read about the various ways in which students learn about, for, in and with society during their studies. 

Learning about, for, in and with society

Here we make a distinction between learning about and for society (where knowledge and insights are acquired) and learning in and with society (where students also gain practical experience). 

•    Learning about society means that students acquire knowledge about current social issues. 
•    Learning for society means that students gain insights into how their subject area and knowledge generated within that area relate to societal issues.

Students learn about and for society in courses that aim to impart theoretical knowledge. Social partners may also be directly or indirectly involved in teaching or may contribute towards the courses. 

Current societal issues related to climate change, the energy transition and sustainability are integrated into our education in a variety of ways, from individual courses to complete degree programmes. Read more about this in the Sustainability dossier

•    Learning in society involves students applying knowledge and insights from their own subject area to a societal issue. 
•    Learning with society means collaborating with a social player on a current societal issue. 

Learning in and with society is specifically geared towards gaining
practical experience. Students engage more directly with society, which requires intensive cooperation with one or several social partners. To encourage students to become engaged and responsible citizens, the university encourages such activities as part of the curriculum or, where this is not possible, as extracurricular activities.

Cooperation with social partners

Collaborating with social partners to integrate their issues into our education requires coordination. Leiden University has several platforms for bringing together societal issues and study programmes. 

Leren met de Stad (Learning with the City) is one such platform in Leiden for establishing practical and structural partnerships between the university of applied sciences, the university, the municipality and social organisations. The aim of this collaborative platform is to solve problems in the city in consultation with the residents. Students learn from real-life, hands-on experience in the city, which contributes to active citizenship and a greater sense of social reality and engagement.

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