Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning: Defining Challenges In a Multi-Stakeholder Context


Course Objective

The objectives of this course are to:
- Become familiar with inter- and transdisciplinary research and
Community Service Learning (CSL)
- Acquire insight in the complexity of wicked problems and corresponding
multi-actor systems
- Be able to identify and integrate perspectives of different societal
actors in practice
- Gain (basic) experience with qualitative community-based research
methods (interviews, group discussions)

Course Content

In the 21st century, we increasingly face complex societal challenges,
such as climate change, pollution, social segregation, digitalization,
and inequality in health, literacy, and wealth. These so-called ‘wicked’
problems transcend disciplines and involve a wide variety of actors.
This complexity often causes them to remain ill-defined, while a
universal definition is essential to addressing them effectively. Due to
their complex and inter-related nature, defining these challenges and
corresponding research questions requires an inter- and
transdisciplinary approach: integrating knowledge from different
academic disciplines and actively involving relevant actors at and
beyond campus.
This course provides theoretical knowledge about, as well as practical
experience with, analyzing multi-actor systems and defining complex
societal challenges. It examines a large societal topic through
literature, (online) lectures, and interviews with societal actors.
The course builds up to a public event hosted by the students, at which
the actors are brought together. This allows for integration of their
different perspectives to jointly arrive at a widely embraced definition
of the issue which takes different stakes, perspectives and needs of the
actors into account. The definition of the issue and corresponding
research questions constitute the end product of the course, which will
be addressed in subsequent projects in the course ‘Interdisciplinary
Community Service Learning; Addressing Challenges through
Transdisciplinary Research’.

Teaching Methods

‘Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning; Defining Challenges in a
Multi-Stakeholder Context’ is a part-time course of eight weeks (3
ECTS). The total study time is approximately 80 hours. Tuition methods
include lectures (online/offline), workgroups, group project work, a
public event, and self-study.

The different elements have the following study time:
- Online lectures: 8 hours
- face-to-face meetings (lectures, workgroups and training, public
event): 22 hours
- project work (preparation of event, performing interview, assignments)
& reading (self-study): 50 hours

Please note that attendance to the workgroup sessions is compulsory. If
you miss one workgroup, with a good reason, you will receive an
additional assignment. If you miss more than one workgroup session it is
no longer possible to pass the project part of the course. Attending the
public event is mandatory, it will not be possible to pass the course
without having attended the Public Event.

Method of Assessment

The course grade is based on two group grades for the end products: a
written report and the facilitation of the group discussion at the
Public Event. In addition, personal process performance is graded
individually. Each component of the grade needs to be 5.5 or higher to
pass the course.


Literature will be made available on Canvas at the start of the course.

Target Audience

The course ‘Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning; Defining
Challenges in a Multi-Stakeholder Context’ is an elective within the
master program ‘Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in
Health and Life Sciences’, but it can be followed as an optional course
for master students from across the VU University.
Please contact the course coordinator prior to enrollment.

Additional Information

Registration through VUnet
The entire course is in English

Explanation Canvas

All lectures, reading materials, videos, assignments and further
information will be provided on Canvas

General Information

Course Code AM_1254
Credits 3 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. T.P. Groen
Examiner prof. dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Study Group
Target audiences

This course is also available as: