Interconnectedness of Diversity and Inclusion


Course Objective

The course has an emphasis on theory, while also training empirical
skills. In the present class, we will illuminate the big or wicked
problem of societal diversity and polarization by discussing literature
on the psychology and sociology of identity, diversity, societal
polarization, and related processes of online communication, information
processing and truth judgments. More specifically, the course will
combine theories of several theoretical domains: (1) theory from
Psychology on social identity; (2) theory from Sociology, Psychology and
Organization Sciences on diverse identities, diversity and inclusion;
(3) theory from Communication Science on mass me-dia and the general
processes of computer-mediated online communication; (4) theory from
Psychology and Communication Science on societal participation and
polarization, with an emphasis on the role of computer-mediated
communication in the polarization process (selective exposure, echo
chambers, online incivility, flaming, and hate speech online); (5)
theory from Social Psychology and Communication Science on reality
perceptions: online believability and truth judgments, confirmation
biases. While reviewing the literature, you will also reflect on the
employed quantitative and qualitative methods in terms of their limits
and strengths.

Challenges you will face in this class regarding theory work is to read,
process, and discuss articles on polarization from different and still
partly disconnected scientific disciplines, learn how to search for
additional high-quality literature yourself, develop sound concept
definitions, de-sign –based on the literature– structural or causal
models to dissect the puzzle of societal polarization, and eventually
convincingly motivate a research question that moves beyond the
state-of-the-art. This research question will also be pitched to
external stakeholders that are affiliated with the ISR expertise lab on
polarization. You will also apply theory from this class to discuss,
together with parallel P4 research master classes, a complex case or
societal problem that calls for resilient responses and that is
associated with patterns of societal diversity and polarization.

In the empirical part, the methodological focus will be mixing
quantitative and qualitative analyses. The idea is to engage in a
“pressure cooker” big data analysis to back up your research question
(e.g., document or describe the problem). Accordingly, in the empirical
part of this course, you will obtain and examine big data in order to
further substantiate the problem tackled in your research question. In
summary, empirical challenges in this class include a better
understanding of how scholars from different disciplines apply both
quantitative and qualitative methods to study societal diversity and
polarization, and to apply a big data analysis yourself to substantiate
your research question.

After this class, you will…
1. Know and be able to evaluate theories from Communication Science,
Organization Science, Psychology, Political Science, and Sociology on
diversity and polarization –a central trend challenging societal
resilience– with an emphasis on mass and computer-mediated
communication. (KU1, KU2)
2. Have attained the skills to describe research questions that are
embedded in and emanate from relevant theories on diversity and
polarization, so that they are an appropriate starting point for a
research proposal. (KU2, AKU6, JF9)
3. Be able to describe the societal relevance of a research question,
also by using empirical analysis of data. (AKU7, JF9)
4. Have enhanced your basic skills to apply computational research
techniques and quantitative and qualitative methods which are used to
collect, edit and analyze large or unstructured data sets. (KU4, AKU7)
5. Be able to reflect critically on diversity and polarization research
conducted in the ISR and to identify strengths and weaknesses of both
quantitative and qualitative research methods. (KU4, AKU7)
6. Have improved your skills to conduct a literature search by using
feasible and relevant search terms, evaluate the quality of your
research question and theories, and add proper references. (JF10, JF11)
7. Be able to present the scientific and societal relevance of a
research question and relevant theories on diversity and polarization in
a clear manner so that they are understandable for stakeholders outside
university. (C12)
8. Be able to value the disciplinary and intercultural input of other
group members about your research questions and underlying assumptions
of these questions and to benefit from them to enrich your research
questions and add original perspectives. (LS14, LS15)
9. Be able to interpret and position diversity and polarization in the
context of societal resilience research. (KU1, KU2)

Course Content

The aim of this course is to profoundly engage in some of the most
important theoretical discussions on the interconnectedness of diversity
and inclusion. The resilience of Western societies is currently
challenged due to ever more fragmented political landscapes (e.g., the
Nether-lands), the rise of populist movements (e.g., Germany, the
Netherlands, Austria), and an increasing polarized electorate (e.g., the
US). Mass media play an essential role in modern societies, and the
Internet fosters specific ways of how people communicate and receive
information about the world. These patterns of networking and
communication foster a dynamically inter-connected and diverse society,
which also give rise to contemporary societal challenges (e.g., societal
polarization, populist movements, science scepticism, rise of a
post-truth era). In this context, how can society foster diversity and
inclusion? Which factors and processes facilitate the resilience of
individuals and groups regarding increasing societal diversity and
polarization? This course provides you with the knowledge and conditions
that enable you to critically assess these discussions and transform
them to academic and thoughtful insights on these socially heated
topics. You will develop an academic view on the societal issues related
to interconnectedness by learning to contextualize and theorize them and
by critically reflecting on your own position, opportunities and
responsibilities as social scientists. This course aims to enlarge the
reflective capacity of the students to comprehend the complexity of
interconnectedness related to diversity issues in society and grasp the
necessity of a layered approach towards inclusion to deal with this
challenge. More specifically, the present course has three main goals.
First, it aims to provide a thorough understanding of societal diversity
and polarization. Second, it aims to guide you towards a convincing
research question on societal diversity and inclusion, societal
polarization, and mass media that could be the starting point in your
development of a full research proposal in P5. Third, the class aims to
improve your skills in science communication, so that you are able to
present and discuss your research idea with external stakeholders.

Teaching Methods

In the course, different teaching formats are used:
• Each session last for 2 hours (with a 15 minute break). Most sessions
of this the class will offer interactive meetings that provide a mixture
of interactive lectures and hands-on workgroup activities We believe in
a flipped classroom principle, in which you present the learning
material studied at home so that there is time for interactive
discussion and hands-on working activities in the actual session
(usually in pairs, i.e., together with another student). These
activities result in certain products or deliverables (like your
research question draft or final proposal, or extended abstract and
poster presentation, and research log, see below). In addition, most
sessions will also feature standard lecture-elements like 15-minute
kick-off presentations or concluding presentations by the course
coordinators on the session’s topic.
• Throughout the course, you will keep track of your learning process in
a research log. In this reflection assignment, you describe your
learning trajectory: what you learned in relation to the theme, how you
experienced the group-work, and your individual role within the group
and contribution to the research process. This is an individual
• In addition, the class features two practicals, the jigsaw sessions in
week 5 and the pressure cooker empirical study in week 6.

Method of Assessment

1. The midterm exam consists of five open ended questions in week 5 that
test your under-standing of the prevalent theories at hand, and that
potentially also examine your understanding of how these theories link
to the concept of societal resilience, your ability to compare and
evaluate theories from a given perspective, and to discuss the
contribution of theories from different disciplines to societal
challenges, societal resilience, and threats to societal resilience. The
grade for this diagnostic test is 20% of the final grade.

2. Final assignment (Research question proposal). You can choose between
two different types of final assignments. If you have chosen option 1 in
the other P4-course, then you need to go with option 2 in the present
course, and vice versa. The grade of this assignment is 75% of the final
• Option 1: Writing a theoretical paper. You write a theoretical
which includes a theoretical framework and a research question. It
comprises information about why this RQ is important and socially and
scientifically relevant. It will require the visualization of structural
or causal models and potential hypotheses that substantiate the RQ. The
theoretical paper is no longer than eight pages (4.500 words). See
Appendix B for a description of the assignment and the rubric that will
be used to assess the paper.
• Option 2: Designing and presenting a poster (including extended
abstract). This option incites to use your creativity in designing a
research poster. The poster informs about the research question, its
social and scientific relevance, and which theoretical concepts are
important. It will require the visualization of structural or causal
models and potential hypotheses that substantiate the RQ. The poster is
supported by an extended abstract. The extended abstract contains
references and comparisons to related work and elaborates on the
theoretical concepts underlying the research question. The extended
abstract is no longer than four pages.

Note that the assignments are individual work. However, during the
course there is ample opportunity to get feedback on your work, to
consult experts to discuss your research question and to work together
as you would do in a research group. Nevertheless, the final product
reflects your own work, and presents a unique topic and research

The grade for the theoretical paper or the poster and extended abstract
will consist of both a peer review grade (10%) and a course coordinator
grade (60%). The peer-review grade will be established by assigning two
students to review and grade your research proposal or the concept
poster and extended abstract – the average grade will represent the
peer-review grade. The course coordinator also reviews the research
proposal or poster and may ask the student reviewers to clarify their
assessment if he or she doesn’t agree.

3. Research log and reflection assignment. Throughout the course, you
also keep track of your learning process in a research log. In the
reflection assignment, you describe your learning trajectory: what you
learned in relation to the theme, chosen research questions, theories,
the pair-work, and your individual role within the group/pairs and
contribution to the research process. This is an individual assignment.
The grade for this assignment is 5% of the final grade.

1. The resit for the midterm exam (five open end questions) is
in the resit week in P5.
2. In case of a resit of the final assignment, there will not be
review, and only the course coordinator will grade the paper or poster +
abstract (100% of final grade). The resit is also an individual product.
Generally it will be an improved version of the first paper or poster +
abstract (without a presentation) unless the course coordinator decides
that a completely new deliverable is an appropriate way to help the
student to develop. You have to hand in the improved paper or poster
with the accompanying ex-tended abstract in the resit week in P5.
3. The resit for the reflection assignment is an improved version
on feedback of the course coordinator and should also be handed in the
resit week in P5.

General Information

Course Code S_IODI
Credits 6 EC
Period P4
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator dr. R.A. van der Lee
Examiner dr. R.A. van der Lee
Teaching Staff dr. R.A. van der Lee
prof. dr. T. Hartmann
prof. dr. H. Ghorashi
dr. ir. T.A. van den Broek

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Study-group, Reading