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Broader Mind Course - for all bachelor's and master's students

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Last updated on 21 April 2022

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you develop A Broader Mind. No matter what you study, you will be challenged to take a broader view of your academic discipline, of society and of yourself. When you take the Broader Mind Course, you discover yourself and change the world.

In the Broader Mind Course, you explore what role you want to play in society, both now and in the future. You work with themes that are directly related to your personal development, such as success & failure, happiness & health, living in a digital world, rebellion and philosophy of life. You also link these with important social themes, such as sustainability, poverty or the pursuit of the perfect body. In this way, you learn to connect academic knowledge to your own choices and opinions in challenging and creative ways.

For example, you will search for answers to personal questions such as 'How do I deal with "failures" and what are they exactly?' and to social questions such as 'How can we reduce our dependence on plastics?', 'How can we help eradicate poverty?', and ‘How far should we go with genetic engineering?'.

You will not do this alone, but together with students from completely different study programmes. In the Broader Mind Course, chemists work together with economists, lawyers with historians, theologians with medical doctors, and so on. Later on in your career, you will constantly be looking beyond the borders of your own discipline—this course already gives you valuable experience in doing just that! Having the Broader Mind Course on your CV, therefore, gives you a competitive edge in the labour market!

One of the things that makes the Broader Mind Course special is that students are co-designers of the course. You can join one of the thematic construction teams and help develop the curriculum at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

You will choose one of the two tracks (you can follow the other track in a different academic year). Each track covers four themes. You will approach each theme with a personal question and a social challenge in mind, and will look at it from different scientific perspectives. To give you an idea:

  • Theme Success & Failure. Personal question: How can I be successful by learning from my failures? Social challenge: Can we break the social taboo regarding failure?
  • Theme Sustainability. Personal question: What is my role in causing, identifying and solving the plastic problem? Social challenge: How can we help solve the plastic waste problem?

At the end of the Broader Mind Course, you present your final assignment to your fellow group members. You will choose one or more themes from the course and indicate what really struck a chord with you and what you want to do with this in the future. You will present this in a creative way—with a video, a vlog, a story, a poem, a letter to your future self—however you can best express your ideas.

Join or contribute to the Broader Mind Course

  • Who is the course for?

    The course is interdisciplinary, and therefore accessible to all VU bachelor’s students, regardless of your faculty or whether you are a first-, second- or third-year student.

  • What does the course entail?

    In the Study guide, you will find everything you need to know about the Broader Mind Course, Track A and Track B . You will choose one of these two tracks. Each track covers four themes, namely:

    Track A
    Success & Failure (School of Business and Economics)
    Poverty (Social  Sciences)
    Human Body (Law)
    Rebellion (Humanities)

    Track B
    Viewpoints & Worldview (Religion and Theology)
    Health & Happiness (Medicine)
    Digital World (Behavioural and Movement Sciences)
    Sustainability (Sciences)

    Each theme takes two weeks to complete and involves blended learning, with online and offline activities. The language of instruction is English. The total study load is 40 hours, which breaks down into about three hours per week, spread over four months, except during exam periods. When you successfully complete the course, you will receive a certificate of participation and it will be mentioned on your diploma.

  • When is the course?

    The course takes place in periods 4 and 5, except during exam weeks. There are 6 (offline) ‘meetups’ on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, from 17.30–19.30. There are also 5 (online) ‘get-togethers’ on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, from 17.30–18.30. You will also do online assignments on your own time

  • Want to register for the course?

    To register for Track A or Track B of the Broader Mind Course, go to your dashboard and enter the course code or the name of the course in the registration module (via Plan course > All courses > Search in extracurricular courses). The 2022 course has already started. Registration for the 2023 course will be possible by the end of December this year.

  • Want to help design the course?

    A unique feature of the Broader Mind Course is that the curriculum is not only developed by teachers but also by students. You, too, can be a co-designer of the Broader Mind Course! You can do this in two different ways:

    1. As a member of the feedback team. In a few development sessions, you will give feedback on the course content and come up with ideas to improve the course. (Time commitment: three sessions a year in September and October, one and a half hours per session)
    2. As a member of the construction team. You will act as a course developer and work with a small team to further develop one of the themes of the Broader Mind Course. You will have several team meetings to brainstorm new ideas, create assignments and develop new course materials. (Time commitment: August–February, 8–10 hours per month).

    Sign up for one of the information sessions on participating in the feedback and/or construction team via broadermindcourse@vu.nl or this form. You do not need to have followed the Broader Mind Course to participate.

  • Want to become a student guide for the course?

    We are looking for enthusiastic senior bachelor's and master's students to act as a ‘student guide’ for a group of students during the Broader Mind Course. You will help the students with both on-campus and online activities, give feedback and assess the final assignment. We will make sure you are well-prepared by providing you with training and coaching both prior to and during the Broader Mind Course. So, you will also learn quite a bit!

    For more information, please contact us at broadermindcourse@vu.nl. As a student guide, you will receive a volunteer's allowance.

  • Get inspired by these Broader Mind Course videos

  • Want to stay informed?

    Sign up for the Broader Mind Course newsletter.

A great opportunity

“You don't often get the opportunity to talk about social issues with people from other disciplines. It was a great opportunity to listen to others, to think about challenging issues and to try to find solutions to them.”

- Diana Lucía Gross, Social Psychology student

A Broader Mind students share their experiences

At VU Amsterdam, you don't just become something, you become someone. Someone with academic expertise who is also mindful of society. Some of the students of the Broader Mind Course share their experiences.

Do you have questions about the Broader Mind Course?

Please feel free to contact us

Send an e-mail to broadermindcourse@vu.nl