Societal Impact Award

Societal Impact candy bar

The Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance hands out the Societal Impact Award annually. This award emphasises the societal impact of academic teaching and research activities as well as highlights projects, initiatives and actions that directly link academic teaching and research to our society. For many of our students and staff, this is an important goal they strive for. Their activities contribute towards tackling and solving societal issues and thus the creation of ‘sustainable, healthy, safe and fair societies’. With the award, the faculty aims to reward exceptional projects with a societal impact.


In order to achieve the award, a student or staff member must have led a societal project or delivered a high-impact societal performance – individually or as a team – in the past academic year. A link with the faculty’s teaching or research activities is a prerequisite. New or long-term projects are allowed, and they must have directly resulted in societal actions or interventions, or more indirectly represent the taking of societal responsibility. In all cases, however, they must lead to accessible teaching and research, have an interrelation with societal partners and practices and/or have a demonstrable societal impact. In the ideal situation, the projects have been successful and yielded results, thereby representing something substantial – however specific the projects may be – and are supported by the stakeholders.

There are awards for staff members and students. The awards consist of €1,000 prize money (to be used within the framework of the impact projects) and will be handed out during the faculty’s New Year’s get-together.

Societal Impact Award ceremony 2020

More information about the award

The Societal Impact Award is annually handed out to a single student or staff member or a team of students or staff members who demonstrably contributed to the tackling and solving of a societal issue, which is directly linked to the faculty’s teaching or research activities. This may relate to an achievement at the macro level, such as within or via an international human rights organisation, an achievement at the meso level, e.g. a project in Utrecht or via an executive organisation, or an achievement at the micro level, such as combining teaching or research activities with migration issues.

The achievements fit in with the societal role and responsibility of our faculty, with a focus on the creation of ‘sustainable, healthy, safe and fair societies’. They also match with the societal engagement of many of our students and staff, as they construct a direct link between their academic activities – attending lectures, conducting research – and the external partners and practices.

Robert Helder wins Societal Impact Award for university staff 2020

Winners 2020

In 2020, the jury decided that one of the more internationally oriented projects is the winner of this year’s Societal Impact Award for Students. Waleed Mahmoud is a Legal Research Master's student, orginially from Egypt. His project The Legalist consists of a YouTube channel, with weekly videos on law, legal career building and legal skills, a Facebook page, and a website, with blog and journals. This is all for free, as it is established as an alternative means for gaining knowledge, instead of expensive (and often ineffective) private courses which are widespread in the Middle-east. 

The winner in the staff category was Robert Helder, a teacher of notary law, that supports the Dutch police as a financial detective, as a volunteer. In fact, Helder became the first citizen detective in 2018.  He participates in big investigations into money laundering and fraud, for example, in which his notarial expertise has added value. He analyses notarial documents, in order to trace suspicious matters.