About the think tank
The think tank is a course that lets you explore a societal issue related to the theme of your minor. You will work in interdisciplinary groups, supervised by a lecturer. The approach is similar to how project-based research is conducted in society. In the think tank, you will use the knowledge and skills you have gained in your studies and the other courses of the minor and will expand these further by learning from each other while working on the project. This will enable you to develop competencies for your professional future. The combination of research, reflection, and practice is the key element of the think tank. The think tank takes a different educational approach to research, with a different purpose than the Bachelor's thesis, which you will most likely be writing at the same time.
Science and society
The reason and source of inspiration for the think tank as an educational approach is the National Research Agenda. This agenda, which has been compiled on the basis of questions and ideas from all corners of society, is a means of linking scientific research to societal questions. Research projects funded by the National Research Agenda take place in consortia in which research universities, universities of applied sciences, social institutions, and businesses work together. Our think tanks translate this concept to the curriculum of the Faculty of Arts.
Examples of what students have developed in previous projects, which the think tank builds upon are: a proposal for the museum shop of the National Historical Museum (still in the planning stages at the time) based on literature and field research, a recommendation to the Province of Gelderland on how to achieve better collaboration between businesses from Germany and Gelderland, a plan of action for fundraising and crowdfunding for a music company, a recommendation and a plan of action for a newspaper's policy regarding comments from readers on online news articles, and a recommendation to Radboudumc medical center on improving the internal communication. With an product like that on your CV, it will be easier to convince a prospective employer of what you have to offer.
The minors from which you can choose, are:
All minors are concluded with a think tank, except the teacher-training minor. For this minor, the think tank is replaced by the practical component at school; in the second semester you must choose (at least) 10 EC electives from one of the disciplinary packages.
The think tank is evaluated using a pass/fail grade, based on several products to be delivered in a portfolio. The process is more important for achieving the learning objectives than the final product. In projects like a think tank, things can go wrong: on a personal, relational, process-related, or content-related level. It is important to face these challenges with your team and learn from them. That is why the think tank is assessed on this aspect. Of course, we will still strive together to achieve the best possible result.
The think tank is done with your fellow students, but also with the lecturer, and the social partner. The most important aspects of each person's contribution are described below.
A. The Team
- Students are willing to work together, trust each other, and give each other feedback;
- students come to a clear understanding of their tasks and responsibilities and hold each other to account;
- students divide their roles and duties and are willing to solve internal conflicts;
- students set collective and individual objectives and are accountable for them;
- students are not afraid to learn from their mistakes;
- students write a project plan for the think tank in which the objectives, distribution of tasks, intermediate products, milestones to be achieved, and the timeline are clearly detailed;
- for their research, the students make use of the knowledge and skills acquired during their programme;
- students translate the societal question into an academic question and determine which research method is needed to answer that question;
- students collect the primary sources, research data, and secondary literature they need to answer the question;
- students reflect on the academic relevance of the social question and the societal relevance of the scholarly approach;
- students substantiate their conclusions in a way that is convincing academically as well as for the societal partner.
B. The lecturer
- The lecturer acts as a coach for the students and supports them in the group process;
- by asking questions, the lecturer helps the students gain insight in their goals and what they can do to achieve these goals;
- the lecturer encourages the students to reflect on the process and emphasises that this is at least as important as the final product;
- the lecturer ensures that the students draw a distinction between the procedural and the content-related aspects of the work in the think tank;
- the lecturer provides a learning environment in which students feel free to give each other feedback.
C. The societal partner
- The societal partner formulates the question that forms the basis for the think tank;
- the societal partner is available to consult with and provide feedback to the students;
- students consult with the partner about the question and the intended product;
- students communicate clearly and regularly with the partner about the progress of the research and the choices made regarding the content;
- the partner provides feedback on the content, procedure, and communication.
The think tank was set up to work realistically with a societal partner, at an academic level, and with a concrete result. In principle, it is also possible to do an individual internship at a company or an organisation related to theme of the minor. Here you can find more information about this internship.
Students with ambitions for the Research Master’s may, in consultation with the minor coordinators, conduct a project within the faculty research, related to the minor theme. You can read more about the research internship here.
Please contact your student advisor in good time if you are considering a (research) internship instead of a think tank. The whole process, including sending the request to the Examining Board, takes about 2 to 3 months. More information about the procedure can be found on the website of Career Service.