The Certificate Programme: using education to meet social needs

Tuesday 10 June and Tuesday 17 June marked the official end of this year’s pilot of the Global Studies Certificate Programme. The Certificate Programme’s objective is to encourage students to use their education to meet social needs.  The first track within the Certificate Programme focused on students gaining community service experience within local organizations. The second track allowed students to work as a team in a clinical setting to conduct research for a client.

From November 2017 onwards, a group of students with various academic backgrounds had the opportunity to gain new experiences with different organizations. During two separate celebratory closing ceremonies the students presented their experiences and results. 

Community Service Programme

As part of the Educational Leadership Fellowship ProgrammeBrianne McGonigle Leyh sought to bring service or community-engaged learning to Utrecht University and, more specifically, to students participating in the Law School’s masters honors programme as well as to students engaged with the Global Studies certificate programme of the Centre for Global Challenges. ‘Through service or community-engaged learning, students provide relevant and meaningful service in their communities. They identify and respond to specific community needs and learn by making meaningful connections with course content’, says Brianne. 

Several students joined organizations individually. Among them were the Ronald McDonald House, Green Office Utrecht, and COC Netherlands where they took part in day to day activities for a few hours a week, which ranged from desk work, teaching, running a crowdfunding campaign and finding sustainable solutions to minimize waste in the international student community. This last example resulted in a thrift shop where items from departing international students like furniture and kitchen appliances are collected and sold to incoming international students.

Students from the public international law honors track had their individual projects with Transparency International Netherlands, an international NGO committed to eliminating corruption, and Wolfs Company, an organization which supports organizations with sustainable investments and nature conservation. Their activities respectively included organizing an event about corruption and the World Cup and contributing to a project which aims to promote long term monitoring programs for coral reefs in Turks and Caicos.

Clinical Program

Within this track, students with backgrounds in the history of internationals relations, conflict studies, and law carried out a research project for PAX and Airwars. Here, the students got the opportunity to combine their disciplinary backgrounds to write a policy report. Different academic methodologies were used to produce an all-encompassing report where the students investigate whether or not there has been a shift in the Dutch government’s attitude towards transparency and accountability with respect to civilian casualties in military missions. The students worked very hard to write their report and PAX and Airwars were very pleased with the end result. The report served as valuable input to the work PAX and Airwars does on the topic of civilian casualties in military missions.

Students from both tracks got wonderful reviews from the organizations they cooperated with. This was an excellent opportunity for them to engage in community service learning and apply their academic knowledge and skills in a new context and meet professionals. Subscribe to our newsletter if this sounds like something you’re interested in. We will be sending out a call for applications at the beginning of the new academic year.