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I have learned how valuable it is to bring diverse perspectives together

Ismay, a Master’s student in Behavioural Sciences, became fascinated by doing research during her Bachelor’s in Pedagogical Sciences and took part in the faculty honours programme Social Sciences. To widen her view, this year she chose to enrol in the interdisciplinary honours programme Project Impact. In a team of ten Master’s students with diverse backgrounds and together with the Rathenau Institute, she is researching the potential impact of a basic income.

The kick-off of the honours programme in October was quickly followed by a number of brainstorming sessions about the topic. “Our team consists of a group of students from diverse study programmes. During the first few meetings, we primarily talked about what we were going to do and how we would approach the subject. Every discipline had its own contribution: whereas students of Economics had a lot of basic, substantive knowledge about the subject, I was able to contribute by creating a possible research design. We also consulted with our client – the Rathenau Institute – whose research focuses on the impact of science, innovation and technology on society. We finally decided upon three problem areas at various levels of society: the large gap between the marginalized and the idealized (the social level), bureaucracy (the governmental level) and meaningfulness (the individual level).”

IsmayIsmay, who mainly works on the theme of meaningfulness, is focusing specifically on what the influence of a basic income on the individual might be. “Work is an important aspect of life that gives meaning to one’s existence. If there were a basic income, people might choose to work less. How would that influence the individual? In addition, there might be positive consequences of creating a basic income. For example, would people do more for one another? In order to answer these questions, we interviewed various experts. For example, we have spoken with a psychologist and we interviewed the bishop of Den Bosch, as religion is a perfect example of something that can give meaning to life.”

Personal impact
Ismay describes the positive impact the honours programme has had on her during the past year. “The corona crisis put an end to physical learning. It was delightful to be in contact again with other students during the kick-off and to get to know one another. All of our contact takes place online now, but this also has its advantages: our collaboration is very efficient and it has opened possibilities. For example, we were now able to interview an expert in Sweden, which previously would have been more difficult.”

At the end of this academic year, Ismay is going to be a PhD student at the Prinses Máxima Centrum in Utrecht. “I’m going to study the implementation of a medical passport for survivors of paediatric oncology. Although I’m not a doctor or a healthcare professional, during this programme I have worked very closely with people outside of my own subject area. I’ve learned how valuable it is to bring diverse perspectives together. I’ll definitely take the experiences I’ve gained here with me in my future career.”