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What is an honours lab?

Omslag afbeeldingAn honours lab is a proeftuin (testing area) for new forms of education. In an honours lab, lecturers can experiment with innovative work methods, new themes, and creative end products. The idea is that, in an honours lab, students can gain experience outside of standard contexts. For example, students can try out cooking sustainable foods such as seaweed and insects, experience how the arts look at a concept like “truth”, or study the rhetoric of politicians during election periods, and use it to write their own speeches.

An honours lab is accessible to students from all programmes. When students register, they have to provide a motivation describing why they want to participate, and how the honours lab can contribute to their personal development. A group will be created based on the student motivations. In practice, this means that only intrinsically motivated students participate in an honours lab.

Students will work with a current theme in the honours lab, such as a hot topic in science or a current news item. Students do not receive any ECs for their work, as the honours lab is an extracurricular activity that is completed in addition to their regular studies. This also means that it takes place outside of regular educational hours, specifically during evenings.

The honours lab has a flexible structure. The number of participants or the duration may vary, depending on the theme and the work methods chosen. The most important characteristics of an honours lab are:

  • Experimentation. In an honours lab, different types of education will be tested. This includes using innovative collaborative methods or proposing solutions for the actual challenges faced by external organisations.
  • Activation. Another characteristic of an honours lab is that students will begin working actively. The emphasis lies on action. Examples of this are an interactive analysis of the news or brainstorming together about new concepts.
  • Creation. In an honours lab, creation or development are the order of the day. In some cases the desired end product is determined beforehand, and in other cases, the students will decide during the process which end product best suits the assignment. Examples of final products are a business plan for a spin-off, an app, or even a personally directed documentary.
  • Interdisciplinarity. The honours lab is interdisciplinary in character, based on the conviction that, if different ways of thinking collide, it will result in new and creative insights.

In 2022, the concept of 'honours labs' exists for 5 years, and we have collected a number of inspiring examples in a booklet. In this booklet, teachers and students share their experiences with honours labs. Click here to download the booklet. (pdf, 6,8 MB)


Do you have an idea for an honorus lab and would you like to work it out? Read our call for teachers here.