A Broader Mind

The education in which Bachelor’s students come together to work on the issues affecting today’s society and where personal development is paramount.

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Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam wants to offer its students the opportunity to develop more broadly, from an academic, personal and social perspective: to equip students to be successful and play a meaningful part in this world. This requires students to think about who they are, how they view the world, their role in society, and how they relate to others.

On A Broader Mind, students learn to approach societal issues from a range of academic perspectives. They will apply their knowledge to solving pressing social issues through Community Service Learning and acquire personal skills such as collaborating across borders. 

Why the shaping of students on academic, personal and societal level should have a natural place in education. 

As Mirjam van Praag, the President of the Executive Board, said at the opening of the 2018 academic year: We don’t want our students to simply ‘become something’ – we also want them to ‘become someone’.

HOW IS YOUR WORLD CHANGING? 
As the challenges facing society become more numerous and more complex, the need for a more multidisciplinary approach becomes greater. Themes such as artificial intelligence, ageing, geopolitical tensions, climate change, shortage of natural resources and the unequal distribution of wealth are all having an impact on our world today and will continue to do so tomorrow.

De wereld verandert

At the same time, the labour market is changing dramatically, the working landscape is shifting and knowledge is becoming less sustainable. Opportunities for education are multiplying and today’s students are far more likely to have a career that encompasses a whole range of jobs and disciplines. Despite these developments, government policy is geared towards encouraging students to focus on their own discipline and to graduate without delay. There is hardly any scope for students to broaden their interests or to study subjects in greater depth, let alone to reflect on their own role in society.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU? 
Society is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Now more than ever, it is essential to develop your skills, knowledge and personal qualities in ways that go beyond the boundaries of your own discipline. Broadening your mind means that you are better equipped to meet the challenges of the future. As a student, this requires you to think about who you are, how you look at the world, how you relate to others and the nature of your role in society.

You will develop personal skills such as collaborating across borders, debating openly and effectively, reflecting on your own perspectives, norms and values, and dealing with pressure and stress. In addition, through Community Service Learning, you will apply your knowledge to solving pressing issues that are having a major impact on today’s society.

There are two elements to participating in A Broader Mind:

  • Community Service Learning: a form of education in which you will put professional knowledge into practice. In doing so, you will make your own contribution to solving societal issues.
  • A Broader Mind course: you will work with students from other Bachelor’s degree programmes to develop your societal and personal skills.

TRY IT!
Are you curious about the Course? Click here or scan the QR-code to get a sneak preview!
Sneakpreview

To enter the sneak preview you have to fill-in your e-mail address. Select "I am a new user" and then fill-in your name. Your mail address will not be used or distributed by the VU Amsterdam. 

    The A Broader Mind course is for all Bachelor’s students at VU Amsterdam, and centres on personal development, societal interaction and reflection on these processes. As a student, you will be encouraged to get to grips with major societal issues, such as sustainability, digitization and poverty. These are issues that cannot be solved from the perspective of a single discipline. That’s why the course brings you into contact with a wide range of perspectives held by both experts and fellow students. It will take you on a journey as you discover what these interdisciplinary themes mean to you and how you can draw on your own background and personal convictions in order to make your own contribution.

    FOR STUDENTS, BY STUDENTS 
    The course has been designed jointly by students, lecturers, researchers and other enthusiastic members of staff at VU Amsterdam: that’s what makes it so special. It gives you a genuine and active role in designing and improving your own education. For example, the themes you will tackle on the course were co-written by VU students.

    ONLINE AND OFFLINE ACTIVITIES 
    The A Broader Mind course consists of a blend of online and offline activities. In the MOOC, you will watch videos and read articles in which experts present their ideas and insights. You will take part in quizzes and enter into forum discussions with other VU students. In addition, the MOOC will encourage you to undertake activities independently with a view to exploring your own personal response to the issues in question. This might include collecting your own plastic waste to make an artwork with other students, as part of the Sustainability theme.

    05-03-2019 - Students exchanged 'poverty experience' in Low budget dinner

    Within the theme 'Poverty' students participated in a five-day challenge to live on a minimum of €4,29 a day. At the end of the week they came together and had a low-budget community meal organised at the VU. We obtained waste food from a variety of supermarkets to cook this meal. During this dinner the students reflected at their own experiences and shared them with each other.

    Eight themes are discussed on the A Broader Mind course. As the course and the programme as a whole are still under development, these themes may therefore be subject to change. You will collaborate with students from other degree programmes and learn to approach the themes from a range of disciplines. The starting point for tackling each theme will be your own personal question and a challenge facing society.

    1. Health & Happiness
    Societal challenge: Follow your own path to happiness.
    Personal question: Which factors influence my happiness?

    2. Poverty
    Societal challenge: How can we reduce the negative effects of poverty in someone’s living environment?
    Personal question: What is my own experience of financial poverty?

    3. Success
    Societal challenge: How can organizations achieve success by learning from their failures?
    Personal question: How can I achieve success by learning from my failures?

    4. The Digital World
    Societal challenge: How can society gain a thorough understanding of requirements and applications relating to digital innovations in health care?
    Personal question: How do I weigh up the ethical benefits and the risks of digital innovation?

    5. Rebellion
    Societal challenge: To what extent does society need a rebellion in relation to the societal challenges discussed on the course?
    Personal question: Wat kind of rebel am I?

    6. Viewpoints and Worldview
    Societal challenge: (How) can our different rules of life go together?
    Personal question: What rules of life do you (want to) follow?

    7. Sustainability
    Societal challenge: Join the quest and help solve the plastic waste problem!
    Personal question: How big a part do I play in causing, identifying and solving the plastic problem?

    8. The Human Body
    Societal challenge: What are the limits to biotechnical applications for human health? Personal question: Who owns my body?

    Are you interested in A Broader Mind, but is it not possible to enter the Course? We are always looking for students and teachers for our building teams!

    If you have any questions about the A Broader Mind Course, please send an e-mail to: abroadermindcourse@vu.nl

    Govert Buijs

    The A Broader Mind course is led by Govert Buijs, Professor of Political Philosophy and holder of the Goldschmeding Chair in Economics and Civil Society at the Faculty of Humanities.
    g.j.buijs@vu.nl- +31 (0)20 598 66 83


    PROGRAMME TEAM

    If you have any general questions about A Broader Mind, please contact the programme team:

    Het programmateamKirstin de Boer 
    k.de.boer@vu.nl
    +31 (0)20 598 76 05

    Nynke Rodenhuis
    n.rodenhuis@vu.nl
    +31 (0)20 598 63 12

    Do you like to be creative? Do you like to collaborate with people from different backgrounds? Do you like to contribute to the innovation of education? Then this vacancy is perfect for you!

    Bouwteam

    We are always looking for students, teachers and VU staff members who like to build the Course and want to help us develop and improve it. 

    WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?

    • Contribute to the development of a new curriculum 
    • Work together with members of a building team
    • You will expand your network.
    • You have freedom to be creative
    • You will be part of the A Broader Mind community

    JOIN IN!
    If you have any questions, please send an email to abroadermindcourse@vu.nl

    14-03 2019 - New project leader 'A Broader Mind for business' 

    As of April the 1th the new part A Broader Mind for business will start. VU Amsterdam wants to use A Broader Mind for Business to build bridges to Zuidas by initiating a programme touching the need for personal development as a theme. The project leader will play a leading role in building these bridges and create a strategy to connect to potential partners and collaberate with them within this new programme. The appointed project leader is Marie Louise Voors and will be managed by the Institutional affairs department of the VU.

    Do you want to read more about the programme parts of A Broader Mind? Read the pitch.

    AGENDA 

    Building team meeting A Broader Mind Course
    We are always looking for enthusiastic students, teachers and employees of the VU who want to help build the Course and help us further develop and improve it. Do you want to help us? Then come to the building meetings. Is A Broader Mind new to you? You will receive more information about the project during the introduction meeting. You can register for one of the two components or for both via the link with the various dates.

    October 14, 2019
    16.00 - 17.00 Introduction 'A Broader Mind Course' for people who are interested (in HG-09A33)
    17.00 - 19.00 Building team meeting (in HG-09A24) 

    Sign in now, click here.

    November 12, 2019

    16.00 - 17.00 Introduction 'A Broader Mind Course' for people who are interested (in t.b.d.)
    17.00 - 19.00 Building team meeting (in t.b.d.)

    Sign in now, click here.