Interview with Jaap Kamphuis: PRINS is proving the value of International Studies
We asked Dr. Jaap Kamphuis, Programme Manager of the Bachelor’s International Studies programme, about the significance of Practising International Studies (PRINS). Dr. Kamphuis, who is an alumnus of Leiden University as well as a lecturer in International Studies, was a member of the academic jury for PRINS 2016 and PRINS 2017.
“PRINS is even more significant than we had thought. We’ve been looking at the structure of the International Studies programme, and our expectations in terms of what our students take away from it, and we’ve discovered that PRINS as a course actually incorporates many of the elements we want students to get from the International Studies programme. That includes skills we know Humanities students need to be viable in the job market or in top Master’s programmes. Group and individual presentation skills? Both in PRINS. Formulating research questions? In PRINS. Applied writing, group work, discussion? We see all of this in PRINS.
“Two elements of key importance to the programme are regional knowledge and, especially, a multidisciplinary approach. We have always identified as a multidisciplinary programme – but the question is where do we see it? In the thesis?
“Again it is in the PRINS final reports and pitches where you see that students in teams learn from each other and bring together the knowledge of culture, history, politics and economics of particular regions. The depth and breadth of knowledge I saw during the PRINS pitches affirmed that our programme is indeed multidisciplinary, a place for ‘specialised generalists’.
“So very quickly we’ve discovered: PRINS is even more important than we could have imagined. What started out as a very innovative idea - of how we could connect a Bachelor’s programme to the labour market – has grown into something very special with the exceptional vision, focus, and network of the coordinator of the course, Dr. Sarita Koendjbiharie. The intensive work that the tutors take on, cannot be minimised in its importance in moving students towards their goals – and the goals of programme.“PRINS is the capstone project of International Studies, and an indispensable addition to the other major project in the third year: the final thesis. I want to congratulate all the students who participated in this year’s PRINS and thank you for reflecting back to staff and management, and to the commissioning organisations, the strength of this BA.”