a breeding ground for innovative ideas that also benefit society
Honours classes are intended for talented and curious students who want an additional challenge and who want to look beyond the limits of their degree programme. Within the framework of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus partnership, they can learn how to prevent a cyberattack or design a happy city.
How do you prevent a cyberattack?
Imagine the following scenario: Schiphol Airport is hacked in a cyberattack. Which actions can you take as Schiphol or as one of the shareholders involved, and which instruments can you develop as the Dutch government to prevent a similar attack in the future? Students of the Cybersecurity Honours Class are studying complex crisis situations like this one in June and July of this year. In their first class, they were immediately thrown into the deep end with a simulation game about an attack on Schiphol.
The Honours Class was developed and is taught by researchers of the Centre for Safety and Security, one of the multidisciplinary centres of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus partnership. The students are from the three universities and will learn everything related to a crisis incident by working on their own case study, supported by lectures on subjects such as: what is cybersecurity in technical terms? Which policy instruments can the government use to tackle cybersecurity problems? What are the economic, legal, political and ethical dimensions of cybersecurity?
'Cybersecurity is not just a technical or legal issue', says Bibi van den Berg, assistant professor at the Law faculty of Leiden University. 'Cybersecurity is pre-eminently a multidisciplinary problem. If you want to adequately tackle problems in this field, multidisciplinary knowledge is required. That is why we developed this programme together. We did it for the first time last year and it worked well. It also fits well with the honours education, which provides skilled and motivated students with an extra challenge. We challenge them to look beyond the confines of their field.'
'The Happy City' InnovationLab
Create a vision and plan for the happy city of the future. That will be the assignment given to the 24 honours students of Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam by the InnovationLab in the 2015/16 academic year. The InnovationLab wants to build a bridge between students, doctoral candidates, professors and innovative start-ups.
'The lab is set up as a weekly open studio in a workshop setting, in which renowned thinkers, researchers, companies and students come together', explains Robbert Jan van der Veen. Van der Veen is a guest lecturer on Urbanism at TU Delft and took the initiative for the InnovationLab together with student Stella Groenewoud.
Why focus on happiness? Van der Veen: 'The wealthy cities of today are looking for collective solutions to satisfy basic needs such as shelter, food, healthcare and safety. Higher needs, such as appreciation, creativity and meaning are regarded as your own responsibility, however, and you are expected to seek a coach or therapist if you want help with these matters. In the InnovationLab, we actually experiment with collective ways of facilitating happiness in the city, basing our conclusions on research in the fields of sociology, economy, philosophy of technology, urbanism, industrial design and transition management. Students examine their own daily lives in the city using the theories and models provided.'
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The initiators wanted to create a truly integral and therefore multidisciplinary laboratory in which they could independently reflect on true innovation in the city. Van der Veen: 'The challenge is to not allow a single faculty or company to determine the assignment, but to instead examine it together, without any commercial agenda. The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus partnership and the honours programme are eminently suitable for this purpose. The honours students want to broaden their outlook. In the LDE partnership, we can work together with researchers from different faculties and universities. This would not have been possible any other way.'
The InnovationLab was launched in 2013 as a pilot for TU Delft students, with contributions made by scientists from Leiden and Rotterdam. Next year, in addition to the substantive Leiden-Delft-Erasmus supervision, the LDE partnership will allow 24 honours students from Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam to enrol.
In 2014, students from six different degree programmes worked together on a single concept in groups of three individuals. The WIJKOKEN ('we cook') concept, for example, isa way of devoting more time and attention to basic needs and simultaneously feeling more comfortable and at home in the city. The WIJKOKEN bus picks people up and drives them in a group of 20 people to an area that they do not know. There, a meal is cooked by local chefs using ingredients from local shops. During the meal, music will be played and (historical) tales will be told about the neighbourhood.
Van der Veen: 'The response to this concept was so enthusiastic that the municipality of Leeuwarden approached me to ask if the students involved would like to introduce the WIJKOKEN bus in Leeuwarden. We feel strengthened by the fact that it is the concrete and applicable ideas that are the most successful.’
Robbert Jan van de Veen would like to use the opportunity to call on PhD students to participate in the InnovationLab. The InnovationLab will be held from mid-November 2015 to mid-March 2016.