At the end of the course, you will have:
- gained a basic understanding of some major changes in society, their effects and related problems, with a focus on policies that can lead to major changes;
- gained a basic understanding of different ethical and economic perspectives;
- shown you can write the first parts of a creative research proposal (introduction, research problem, research questions);
- demonstrated you are capable of analysing the pros and cons of policy alternatives from the perspective of society as a whole, linking the pros and cons to ethical and economic perspectives;
- made a first step towards improving the way in which you present your views to an audience.
This course deals with major changes in society, with a focus on the assessment of policy alternatives that can lead to major changes. It also aims to improve such skills as the ability to ask the right questions, the ability to formulate an interesting research problem, and be more creative generally. During the first part, a few major changes and policies will be discussed. Attention will also be paid to the criteria used to determine whether a change or policy is desirable for society, and to the underlying philosophical and economic views. In the second part, students will draft a paper in groups concerning a situation that may exist in 2025 or, preferably, much later (there is little scientific literature about the more distant future, which forces students to be creative). This situation will lead to a choice of policies whereupon the one that is most desirable should be selected. Every group is free to choose a problem for analysis, and science-fiction is allowed to some extent. The paper should be a research proposal (excluding the research methods), or the first chapter of a book describing the main line of the book and why it will be so interesting. In addition, students will undertake individual assignments and an individual presentation. Note that although the teaching method might make you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, this may be necessary for you to venture into new pastures and to think differently.