PRINS special: Introduction Joost Augusteijn
As Chair of the Bachelor’s of International Studies at Leiden University, I am most pleased to introduce this Special Edition Newsletter focused on the achievements of our students (and the enthusiasm of participating organisations) during the 3rd iteration of the Practising International Studies (PRINS) consultancy project.
Five years ago Leiden University launched the Bachelor’s of International Studies, which has become the fastest-growing programmes within Leiden’s Faculty of Humanities. Now housed in our light-filled, iconic new city-centre campus on The Hague’s Turfmarkt, we have been able to catch a breath and take a look at the experience of our alumni and current students.
What we are seeing after just three years is real evidence that PRINS is one of the most distinctive and transformational aspects of the BA International Studies programme in terms of preparation for career or further study. Unique to any Humanities Bachelor programme, this culminating consultancy project connects our students not just to the ‘real world’ issues of external organisations, but to their own – sometimes not-yet-glimpsed – strengths, existent or emerging. This kind of self-reflection and professional, personal and academic development in the face of a challenging project sets the bar for their further studies and/or career.
The opportunity for a Bachelor’s student to see their value to a multinational business or humanitarian organisation has an incalculable positive impact: these students understand that their knowledge and skills count and can have constructive effect. Not infrequently, our PRINS consultancy teams are invited to present their advice to the Board of the commissioning organisations.
During the PRINS final pitches on 11 and 12 May 2017, at which I acted as an academic jury member just as in 2016, thirty teams competed across 6 exceptionally relevant cases. The fact that multinational organisations have been so involved and so willing to be part of PRINS really struck me last year. This year the engagement of the organisations stood out for me once again. So did the absolute uniqueness of PRINS in any Humanities programme.
Not only does the academic value of students’ work have to be evident during the final pitches; PRINS is very much about the application of skills and knowledge, to answer a question completely different to any they’ve been asked before. This practical element is very new, and very important; it shows the students how to incorporate what they have learned into the working environment. And PRINS is about teamwork, something they don’t get enough of in university life, in which individual achievement is emphasised. PRINS demonstrates the value of cooperation.
PRINS also demonstrates why the Leiden University Faculty of Humanities has a leading international reputation and excellence in the rankings: our Faculty is willing to innovate in many ways. Not just in carrying out its leading (multi-)disciplinary research but in providing new approaches to teaching that make the Humanities more practically relevant than ever.
I would like to commend each and every one of the 350 students who participated in PRINS 2017 for your achievements and for the depth, breadth, and creativity evidenced by your teams. You are a credit to the BA International Studies programme, and to Leiden University.
However the ultimate thanks must go to Dr. Sarita Koendjbiharie for her tireless focus, apparently endless energy, and clarity of vision in her continuing ownership and unending bettering of PRINS; to our extraordinary tutors for their patience, skill, and extreme hard work on behalf of our students; and to Programme Director Dr. Jaap Kamphuis, and the many members of staff who keep all the moving parts of this great consultancy project working smoothly.
On behalf of Leiden University and the Bachelor’s of International Studies programme, I invite you to read further.
Dr. Joost Augusteijn, Programme Chair