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Cursus: 202000503
Societal Challenges
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (ECTS)15
Contactpersoondr. M.R.R. Ossewaarde
VorigeVolgende 2
dr. I. Bouzguenda
dr. C. Fischer
dr. H.G. van der Kaap
Contactpersoon van de cursus
dr. M.R.R. Ossewaarde
dr. M.R.R. Ossewaarde
AanmeldingsprocedureZelf aanmelden via OSIRIS Student
Inschrijven via OSIRISJa
When students have completed this module, they have learned:
  1. to describe public administration theories of the political arena, framing, agenda-setting, priming and wicked problems;
  2. to apply public administration theories of framing, agenda-setting and priming in the context of the EU policy field of migration and the institutional complex of Fortress Europe;
  3. to explain different societal transformations, the societal and technological challenges these transformations generate, and the political-administrative responses to such challenges in European societies;
  4. to describe key concepts for narrating societal and technological challenges that coincide with integration and migration in changing European contexts;
  5. to use (at an introductory level) the basic concepts of doing empirical research in the context of social problem solving;
  6. tto use the basic concepts of data analytics;
  7. to explain the distinction between descriptive and inferential statistics;
  8. to visualize univariate, bivariate and multi-variate empirical data;
  9. to make collectively in project teams a problem analysis of a framed social problem that includes description, data analytics and visualization;
  10. to present in project teams a problem analysis of a framed social problem in the form of a research paper and poster presentation.
Current European societies face grand and swift societal and technological changes. These changes include societal transformations that come with new technological revolutions, emancipation, increasing levels of education and mass migration, the emergence and change of supra- and international institutions, especially in Europe, and declining sovereignty of nation-states. Because of such transformations, states, politicians, citizens and other groups face complex situations that requires great political and administrative efforts in order to survive and flourish in accord with the European values. Societal and technological transformations test governmental abilities, as governments, citizens and other actors face all kinds of societal challenges. In the context of some of these challenges, actors operating in the context of nation-states and the EU define ‘social problems’ and ‘policy problems’, while other aspects of societal challenges are almost completely ignored. ‘Social problems’ and ‘policy problems’ are not just ‘caused’ in some automatic or mechanical process, they are ‘constructed’ by different actors in the political-administrative arena. When prioritized, the exact framing of a social problem directs the way in which it is addressed by policy measures or by new political and administrative institutions.
   In the context of this module, students are introduced to theories of structural transformation. In this part of the module, students develop conceptual understanding to make sense of the big societal and technological transformations of European societies in the technological age: which aspects of these changes can be distinguished, which origins or causes have contributed to these changes, what is the role of new technological revolutions therein, and what are the implications or consequences of these changes for political-administrative systems.
Students are also introduced to the politics of problem definition. Whoever has the power to authoritatively define a complex, ‘wicked’ problem, is able to demarcate its description, origins, and solutions. Students learn about ‘problem definition’ in the context of predominantly European institutions and the agenda-setting and decision-making process within these institutions. Accordingly, the module focuses on the institutions of the EU as a political-administrative system that is designed to resolve contemporary societal and technological challenges that cross borders and to frame and demarcate ‘social problems’ that can be solved via particular policy interventions.
In the context of public administration, some problems are systematically described and analyzed. Some problems are singled out and general theories are used to better understand the problem. In this module students learn how to systematically describe, analyze and visualize a relatively simple problem.
In order to understand the descriptions, analytics and visualization of  problems, people working in the field of public administration need to have a basic understanding of social science research. In this module students develop research skills to sharply define a relatively simple problem and to describe and explain the problem using, among others, data analytics  and data visualization.
In the project, we focus on migration in the tech-based society  as a grand societal challenge. In the context of this grand challenge, some problems are identified and addressed and other aspects are (largely) ignored. Students are expected to apply insights from societal transformations in the technological age to find out how mass migration is caused and intertwined with technological developments, and how it impacts on social cohesion in European societies. Knowledge from the politics of problem definition is applied to describe how social and policy problems in the realm of migration are defined, discussed, framed, shaped, within national and European institutions, and what the role of technology is in that political-administrative process. For the systematic analysis of a problem, students use – and present in the form of a research paper – data about migration, and describe and analyze and visualize the problem of migration. In doing this, students apply some of the basic concepts taught in the field of social science research.
Participating study
Bachelor Management, Society and Technology
Module 2
Verplicht materiaal
Babbie, E., The Practice of Social Research, 15th edition. Belmont CA: Wadsworth, 2021.
Ossewaarde, M. (2013) Theorizing European Societies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kathy Turner, Lynette Ireland, Brenda Krenus and Leigh Pointon, Essential Academic Skills, Second edition, Oxford University press, ISNB 978-0-19-557605-4, ISBN-13:978019-5576054
Aanbevolen materiaal
Course material
Additional journal articles and book chapters.

Final thesis



Project begeleid

Project onbegeleid

Self study with assistance

Self study without assistance



The Politics of Problem Definition

1 assignment, 1 exam

Societal Transformations in Tech. Age

1 assignment, 1 exam

Social Science Research

Project: Migration in tech-based society

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