About the think tank
The think tank is a course in which you explore a societal issue related to the theme of your minor and work towards a final product that will help a external partner to tackle the societal issue. 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.
There are entry requirements for the think tank:
- Thematic minor: You must pass the theme course to be able to participate in the think tank. It is also highly recommended that you take the course Academia and Society before participating in the think tank.
- Study Abroad: You must pass the course Study abroad: Academia & Society to be able to participate in the Think tank: Study Abroad.
- Depending on your minor, the same entry requirement applies to the think tank course that is offered in the first semester (LET-LETMI-DT00).
Think tank first semester
As of 2021-2022, think tanks are also offered in the first semester. Do you want to participate in a think tank in the first semester and do you meet the entry requirement? Then register for the course Denktank / Think Tank (LET-LETMI-DT00).
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 and adjust their plan where necessary during the project;
- for their research, the students make use of the knowledge and skills acquired during their programme, but also acquire new knowledge and skills;
- students translate the societal question into an academic question and determine which research method is needed to answer that question, not only falling back on what they already know, but also exploring new methods;
- students collect the primary sources, research data, and secondary literature they need to answer the question;
- students reflect on the academic relevance of the societal 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 external partner;
- students work towards a final product of sufficient quality that will help the external partner to tackle the societal issue and realize the project wish.
B. The teacher
- The teacher acts as a coach for the students and supports them in the group process;
- by asking questions, the teacher helps the students gain insight into their goals and what they can do to achieve these goals;
- the teacher encourages the students to reflect on the process and emphasises that this is at least as important as the final product;
- the teacher ensures that the students distinguish between the procedural and the content-related aspects of their work in the think tank;
- the teacher provides a learning environment in which students feel free to give each other feedback;
- the teacher conducts interviews with the whole team at the beginning, halfway through and at the end of the process; these interviews are included in the project plan;
- the teacher will discuss the personal development with each student individually at the beginning and at the end; the student will make a report of this;
- the teacher evaluates if the think tank was completed successfully on the basis of several products and the commitment shown by all team members.
C. The external partner
- The external partner brings in the societal issue and project wish that forms the basis of the think tank;
- the external partner is available to consult with and provide feedback to the students (approx. eight hours in total during the project, incl. introduction, discussion of the project plan, interim evaluation & final presentation);
- students consult with the external partner about the question and the intended final product;
- students communicate clearly and regularly with the external partner about the progress of their research and the choices made regarding the content;
- the external partner does not evaluate if the think tank was completed successfully (the teacher does that), but does provide feedback on the content, procedure and communication.
The think tank was set up to work realistically with a external 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 note: If you are considering a (research) internship instead of a think tank, be aware of the time schedule. 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.