Institutions Think Tank provides students from Research Masters programmes related to Utrecht University’s Strategic Research Theme “Institutions for Open Societies” (IOS) with an opportunity for hands-on interdisciplinary research collaboration in connection to this theme. The course aims to equip students with key conceptual and methodological tools for pursuing research related to how institutions serve function (or fail to function) to addressing key societal issues. The course also provides invaluable experience in working collaboratively.
Institutions Think Tank combines seminars with student-led research in addressing key issues relating to the strategic theme IOS.. IOS brings together research into the ways in which formal and informal frameworks for human interaction – laws, customs, networks, organisations, etc. – enable or constrain the realization of an open, democratic and equitable society, as well as determine a society's ability to absorb shocks and its sustainability. See: http://www.uu.nl/en/research/institutions-for-open-societies.|
The course begins with four weeks of lecture-seminars devoted to canonical texts and key concepts in this field of research, focusing on how a specific development (such as the rise of ride-sharing services or COVID-19) disrupts the ability of various institutions to facilitate the openness, inclusivity, and flourishing of societies. The texts, concepts, theories, and methods form the shared background for the research developed by students in the remainder of the course.
In the second part of the course, students work in multidisciplinary research teams to jointly carry out their own research the role of institutions in (failing to) address a specific social challenge. Under the guidance of one of the instructors, each research team produces grant proposal for an interdisciplinary research into an instance of “disruption of the institutional field”. The course concludes with a symposium in which the research teams present their results to a jury of experts.
Enrolled in a Research Master programme; students from other MA programmes are welcome but should secure the permission of the course coordinator prior to enrolment. No specific prior knowledge is presupposed, but students should be able and willing to bring the specialized knowledge from their own field to bear on interdisciplinary research on topics central to the theme“Institutions for Open Societies”.
Prerequisite knowledge can be obtained through:
Coursework in the first semester of the relevant (R)MA programmes.
This course contributes to the development of the following exit qualifications:
· Broad knowledge of core theories regarding the role of institutions
· Good knowledge of multidisciplinary aspects of own research specialization
· Writing of a grant proposal
· Presentation and communication in English (communication to experts and non-experts; ability to give policy advice)
· Working in an international team, also with academics from other disciplines
· Ability to summarize and identify common themes in the literature on a specific topic, and to keep track of recent developments
· Ability to critically appraise literature
· Ability to identify innovative and well-delineated research questions
· Ability to identify in a research proposal the correct methodology to answer research questions
· Ability to acquire and apply insights from other scientific disciplines
· Ability to communicate and collaborate, including with scholars from other disciplines
· Ability to make own research relevant for society
· Critically reflect on own work, and critically reflect on work of others in an appropriate way
· Self-reflect on one’s development as a researcher
· Acquire insight into the process of applying for research grants
• Student presentations (20%);
• Take home midterm (30%);
• Group paper (50%)
• Reflection essay (0% mandatory, pass/fail)
In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.