Windesheim celebrates anniversary of honours programmes

27 June 2016

'Ambitious students tackle wicked problems'

Windesheim is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the honours programmes today

Coordinator Tineke Kingma reflects on the last five years and looks ahead: "It's a setting that really enables you to try things out, without being laissez-faire."

Why did Windesheim start the honours programmes five years ago?

Kingma: "There are always students at Windesheim who want to do more – and are capable of doing more – than is possible on a mainstream programme. Students who are looking for an extra challenge, who value autonomy and the freedom to tackle and explore complex issues. The honours programmes were developed specifically to meet the needs of such ambitious students."

Why is honours-level education important?

"It provides an additional challenge for students who want something more. An honours programme enables them to get to know themselves better, to think complex issues through more deliberately, to see themselves as someone who can make a difference… can help shape society. Honours programmes are valuable for businesses, governments and other organizations, because they provide a context in which strategic issues can be presented to a multidisciplinary team and various future scenarios can be outlined."

What are honours programmes like?

"What characterizes them is a multidisciplinary approach. Students from all programmes are welcome. They work together on so-called 'wicked problems': complex issues for which there isn’t a simple solution. Wicked problems can be resolved only with input from various disciplines. On the honours programmes, students address wicked problems with the support of their professors and in tandem with the private sector. By doing so, they add value for the future. The problems aren't necessarily local issues; students tackle international wicked problems as well. Language isn't an obstacle there, because the programmes are delivered in English."

Looking back, how do you view the first five years of the honours programmes?

"The multidisciplinary approach has proven its value from the start. It wasn't possible or desirable to work with one-dimensional blocks of content. The mix of education, research and entrepreneurship ultimately led to us deciding that wicked problems should be the point of departure and to us getting better at working inwards from the outside. The programmes continue to improve year on year. A real strength of the honours programmes is that we have a very close-knit community of students and supervisors. It's a setting that really enables you to try things out, without being laissez-faire."

How do you see the future of honours education at Windesheim?

Windesheim currently offers two forms of honours education: the Windesheim Honours College – which provides a four-year Bachelor's programme and is unique amongst professional colleges in the Netherlands – and the three honours programmes. We'll soon be introducing a third variant: so-called 'honours tracks'. The technical programmes will introduce honours tracks from 1 September and the other divisions are expected to follow suit on 1 February. Of course, honours tracks are also aimed at students who want and are able to do more. However, they differ from the honours programmes in that they are more closely linked to the division's particular fields of activity, and give students the opportunity to broaden their expertise within those fields. They are a valuable supplement to the multidisciplinary approach of the honours programmes and WHC's four-year programme."

See the anniversary book celebrating five years of Windesheim's honours programmes.