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DANGER THINK BIG. It’s an honour. Magazine | June 2018


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Think Big

PREFACE Dear readers, Some of you might remember the Youtube hit Dumb ways to die. In the short video you see the most stupid ways in which a person could die: eating a tube of super glue, trying to get your toast out with a fork, putting both your kidneys online for sale, and more thoughtless actions. Eventually, three examples of accidentally getting hit by a train are shown: “quite possibly the dumbest ways to die�. As it eventually turns out, the clip is a Metro campaign that encourages people to be safe around trains.

Although it is obvious that you should keep distance from moving trains, some dangers are less straightforward. This magazine is about those ones, the dangers that require some time to think about. You will read about them in the articles and columns. On top of that, you will find in this magazine the report of our visit to Konstanz, all you ever wanted to know about the community, several course evaluations and a lot more. Have a good read, Daan de Jong

Daan de Jong (Chairman), Anne de Bruin (Vice-Chairman), Brittany van Beek (Treasurer), Lara Buijze (Newsletter Editor) and Floor de Champs (General Member). 3


Think Big

INDEX Articles

Columns

6 The dangers of artificial 8

intelligence

10 Does religion threaten democracy? 14

Danger: *PTSD*

26 Breaking the cycle of mental health and poverty: A clinical and sociological approach 34

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Technology and education

Danger is my middle name

16 Teaching a child about safety 18

Dangerous? Not dangerous? Or not critical?

22 ‘‘La Vida Madrileña’’, studying in the capital of Spain 29 The hazards of communication


Think Big

Recommendations

TEDTalks

36 Media

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Your online life, permanent as a tattoo - Juan Enriquez

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The danger of science denial - Michael Specter

44

Course Evaluations

Community

Myths

42

Community Facts

38

21

FSW Honours study trip to Konstanz ‘17-‘18 32

Swimming on a full stomach: Dangerous? Babies do feel pain

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Articles

The dangers of Artificial Intelligence By Dr Jesse M. Mulder, Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies, UU

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is booming. In virtually all corners of our society, and on many different scales, people are developing and implementing AI-based solutions. Some view these developments as heralding a new era in the history of mankind, or in the history of life on Earth, or even in the history of the entire galaxy – these are the AI-enthusiasts, including transhumanists and related kinds of futurists. Ray Kurzweil, with his colorful Moore’s Law-based predictions culminating in the ‘Singularity’, is perhaps the most salient figure here [1]. Yet there is also a strong call for caution: do we really know what we are doing? Aren’t we in some sense playing with fire here? Doomsday scenarios are readily available that speak to the imagination just as strongly as the ecstatic visions of the enthusiasts – originating both from Hollywood and from prominent public figures, including scientists. However, leaving the sci-fi fantasies of both technophiles and technophobes aside for now, AI developments really do pose a number of serious questions that need to be addressed. Let me raise three such questions.

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As I’m a philosopher, it will not be surprising that the first question I’ll mention here is deeply philosophical: how do ‘artificial’ and ‘real’ (human) intelligence relate? Is what those AIs are doing the same as what we do? My answer, for which I won’t argue here, is a decided No: ‘our’ intelligence is self-conscious intelligence, AI is nothing but blind rule-following. If that is right, AI at best gives us a simulation of intelligence, not ‘the real thing’. Thanks to all the data that we provide the AIs with by putting all the ins and outs of our lives on the Internet (consciously or not), this simulation gets better and better. But a perfect simulation functions here as a perfect illusion, and thus it may well be true that we’ll be unable to tell, at some point, whether we are dealing with an AI or rather with the ‘real’ intelligence of a genuine human being. And this may have serious consequences. For instance, and this is already relevant at the present time, interacting with such AI-programs, which are built to mirror our own behavior, tends to have the effect of reinforcing that very behavior (think, e.g., of the so-called ‘filter bubble’, which is the phenomenon that you get fed exclusively with (alleged!) information that supports what you already think anyway). And this may affect our potential for change and development – in short, our autonomy.


Articles A related issue, but now more from an economics perspective, is the following. Technological development generally has always led to the automation of jobs, thus freeing us, human beings, from the hard work of securing our subsistence. But this has always been limited to the more physical sorts of jobs (production, farming, etc.). AI is on its way to enabling automation of whole ranges of jobs that were hitherto free from such influences – all sorts of services, health care, education, the judiciary, etc. In particular, these are the sorts of jobs that used to require human intelligence, creative thinking, and the like. Thus, and this holds especially if AI is indeed fundamentally different from human intelligence, automation in these areas will be not as (relatively) harmless as it was in the more physical domains, and may well lead to changes in the ways the mentioned tasks are performed – changes that may not be readily visible, but fundamental nonetheless. For consider: the source of progress in the technological domain has of course always been the creative human mind. Yet with the introduction of automation in the mentioned areas, and the subsequent computerization of cultural life, we are affecting the ways this creative human mind is shaped and maintained. How can we be sure that this will not lead to a considerable reduction of our creative powers? The question is particularly thorny, for it may be that, in the longer run, a gradual reduction of those powers will make it ever harder to tell that such a reduction is occurring. But that’s not all. Another straightforward consequence of extending the scope of automation with the help of AI is that there will be less and less left for us to do. Yet, as we are told in the newspapers every day, unemployment is a bad thing. (Those in favor of ideas like a basic income think otherwise, of

course.) So this will lead to a frantic search for new jobs to replace the obsoleted ones. What is that going to lead to? An elite, consisting of just those people whose capacities haven’t yet been mastered by the machines, ruling over an army of screen-sitting employees whose job only exists because they’d otherwise have nothing to do? According to David Graeber [2], things are in fact already moving in that direction – he finds that an increasing share of the jobs we’re doing consists of ‘bullshit jobs’, jobs that those occupied with them secretly believe to be pointless. As you can see, the rise of AI raises a number of quite fundamental questions – and I haven’t even mentioned issues like the widely discussed one of morality in automated decisions. What is clear, however, is that all of these issues face us with that one most fundamental riddle: ourselves. For if we want to estimate which amount of automation is appropriate in which areas, we will need a thorough understanding of what it takes for human beings to flourish, to unfold their creative mental capacities – which may of course take on highly diversified shapes!

References [1] Kurzweil, R. (2006) The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, New York, NY: Penguin Books. [2] Graeber, D. (2013) “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” Strike! Magazine, August 17, Available at: http://www.strikemag.org/ bullshit-jobs/ Interested? An article on these matters co-authored by the author will soon appear in Review of Social Economy; it is online-first accessible via this link: https://doi.org/10.1080/00346764.201 8.1432884 7


Columns

Danger is my middle name By Dr Jaap Bos, Honourscoördinator Interdiscplinary Social Science For years now I have this longing to climb Mount Everest. I’ve watched tons of clips on YouTube of people reaching the summit. I know the route by heart. Base camps, Lhotse face, north face, South Col, the ‘death zone’, I dream of them. I awe at people preparing themselves. I listen to stories of people who survived the impossible conditions up there (at 8.000+ m. and almost no oxygen your body destroys itself). I want to be one of them. Ridiculous! I’m 56 years of age, I like hiking in the mountains but I have no mountaineering experience whatsoever. None. What the hell am I thinking? Well, I’m realistic. Of course I don’t have the money for it (somewhere between $ 60.000 – 100.000), and I never will. Also, I am fully aware that it is extremely dangerous. The Everest is littered with over 200 bodies of people who didn’t make it back. It’s every man for himself up there, you die you die, no one’s going to help you. On the way up, so I know from my literature and clip watching, you pass all those dead people. They serve as landmarks (‘green boots’, ‘sleeping beauty’). I don’t even think it’ll be much fun. I know that the actual climbing must take place when the weather conditions are somewhat tolerable, and in those few short weeks there are hundreds and hundreds of people, all dressed in ugly bright colors, having their go at it. I’ve seen photos of cues on Mt Everest, people literally having to wait at their turn. Seems terrible to me. What I like in the mountains is the solitude. I don’t particularly 8

appreciate crowds. I know doing the Everest would be awful, just plain awful, and should I get the money and the gear together, I would most likely be killed before I even reach camp 1, at 6100 m. But all this doesn’t curb my longing at all. What is it with dangers that attract us? (I assume everyone has his own Mt Everest.) The adrenaline? Something just your body wants, because clearly the mind knows better? Or is it an unconscious death wish? Some morbid phantasy that you want and not want at the same time? Who knows. Or maybe it’s the opposite. You hear that too. People get up there, do stupid things just to feel alive. Like when teenagers do crazy things, not even half realizing how dangerous it is, just for kicks. I don’t know the answer. I just know that I’ll never get to the summit of Mount Everest. I’ll never even get close. So I’ve lowered my bar. I have seen clips of people climbing Crib Gogh in Wales. It’s only 1000 m. high, you don’t need ropes, you don’t need mountaineering experience, you can get there in day, do it in a day, and be back the next. It’s full of people too. There’re cues on Crib Gogh. And what’s more, it’s almost equally dangerous as the Everest. The thing is ridiculously steep, the path on the ridge ludicrously small, it’s slippery, it’s always raining, the wind blows you off of the edge. You get fear of heights just by looking at a clip of people walking it! Every year, some five people fall to their deaths. So, if you read about a UU teacher who has fallen from a mountain in Wales one of these days, know that I have found the answers to our questions.


“Of course you can find beautiful passages in the Bible or the Koran about love and peace. But turn the page and you will read texts that justify you to kill homosexuals and people who committed adultery, to oppress women, to beat your children, and so on.�


Articles

Does religion threaten democracy? By Arwin van Wilgenburg, department of Philosophy and Religion Sciences (UU) In public opinion, religion is quite often regarded as a dangerous phenomenon. Although many religions claim to be peaceful, the examples of religiously inspired violence and even wars are almost uncountable throughout history. Even today it still takes place. Muslim extremists are spreading death and destruction in many countries in the world, nationalistic Hindus are taking more and more control in India, using violence against all kind of minorities, Buddhists in Myanmar kill and expel the Muslim minority of the Rohingya’s, and everywhere in the world people are condemned and excluded because of their race, gender, sexuality or whatever on the base of religious morality. Aren’t we better off without religion? In defence of religion, one can state that religion as such is not dangerous at all. Maybe some so-called religious people do sometimes use violence in the name of their God(s), but these people misuse religion to legitimate their evil deeds. In fact, religion contributed and still contributes a lot to human civilisation. Think of education, health care, development aid, and so on. Religion builds strong communities and it helps people to shape their personal identity and find meaning in life. Religion inspires people to take care of others, longing for love and peace in the world. Nevertheless, Paul Cliteur, philosopher of law and one of the founding fathers of the Dutch political party Forum for Democracy, considers the monotheistic religions a threat to democracy. Jews, Christians and Muslims 10

are more obedient to their God than to the democratic rule of law, he argues. In their holy books, violence against others is legitimized by God himself. If God commands you to sacrifice your son, as He commanded Abraham, the father of all Jews, Christians and Muslims, you have to obey. Therefore, religious terrorism is not a kind of deviation from the true religion. The monotheistic religions are potentially violent against everything that is alien to the moral laws of their holy books. Of course you can find beautiful passages in the Bible or the Koran about love and peace. But turn the page and you will read texts that justify you to kill homosexuals and people who committed adultery, to oppress women, to beat your children, and so on [1]. For this reason Cliteur advocates a more strict separation of church and state in the Netherlands. He also wants to pacify religions as much as possible. Although his analysis of religion is more nuanced, the sociologist Henk Tieleman comes to the same conclusion: because of the Janus face of religion, it can be a base for peace and for violence as well [2]. He pleads for abolition of the principle of freedom of religion. Philosopher Maarten Boudry recently did the same in Trouw [3].


Articles In my opinion, every attempt to tame religious violence ‘from the outside’ will not suffice. We all have to understand that every truth claim tends to be exclusive. Exclusive truth claims are essentially violent. Therefore it is important that no religion, nor any political ideology, can claim to know the absolute truth about the meaning of life or about the ideal society. It is only in this sense that religious groups can threaten democracy. However, when one would try to tame religious violence from the outside, the exclusion of religion would lead to a truth claim as well, with more violence as a result. I agree with the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, that the very essence of democracy is pluralism. The public sphere is never neutral. People with all kinds of believes, hopes and ideals are struggling continuously with each other for a more ideal society. According to Derrida, pluralism asks for mutual respect, faith and confidence, without which human relations cannot exist [4]. This means we initially have to respect everybody’s view on what constitutes a good life. However, citizens have the responsibility to give each other reasons for their views and actions. After all, in a democratic society, it is only possible to live and work together properly if you understand each other’s viewpoints. Religious people therefore have to translate their religious idiom into an idiom that is understandable for all. The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas emphasizes that this process of translation is a mutual process. Secular and religious people should have the will to understand each other [5]. In conclusion, every violation of the law should of course be penalized. But within the boundaries of the rule of law, I believe that respect, recognition and openness are better antidotes to religious violence than

suspicion, fear and attempts to tame religions. Maybe this sounds quite idealistic, but it is more idealistic to think that it would be possible to pacify religions with laws, as these can be considered a kind of violence as well. Politics is not about consolidation, pacification or forcing, but about believing [6]. Religious and non-religious people should together believe in democracy as an aspiration to a truly humane society [7].

References [1] Cf. Cliteur, P. (2010), Het monothei¨stisch dilemma. Of: de theologie van het terrorisme, Amsterdam: De Arbeiderspers; Cliteur, P./Verhofstadt, D. (2018), In naam van God. Elke dag een aanslag. Antwerpen: Uitgeverij Houtekiet. [2] Cf. Tieleman, H./Wilgenburg, A. (2017), ‘Religie: last of lust voor de samenleving?’ in: Narthex 17(4), pp. 10-17. [3] Boudry, M. ‘Schaf godsdienstvrijheid af, als de vrijheid je lief is’, in: Trouw, 24 februari 2018. [4] Cf. Chérif, M. (2011), De islam en het Westen. Een ontmoeting met Jacques Derrida. Kampen/Kapellen: Klement/Pelckmans. [5] Cf. Habermas, J. (2009), Geloven en weten. En andere politieke essays. Amsterdam: Boom. [6] Cf. Borgman, E. (2009), Overlopen naar de barbaren. Het publieke belang van religie en Christendom. Kampen/Kapellen: Klement/Pelckmans; Borgman, E. (2017), Leven van wat komt. Een katholiek uitzicht op de samenleving. Zoetermeer: Uitgeverij Meinema. [7] Cf. Wilgenburg, A. (2010), ‘Geloven in een democratie? Over religie en publiek domein’, in: Tijdschrift voor Theologie 50(1), pp. 88100; Tieleman, H./Wilgenburg, A. (2017), ‘Religie: last of lust voor de samenleving?’ in: Narthex 17(4), pp. 10-17. 11


TEDTalks

Your online life, permanent as a tattoo - Juan Enriquez By Brittany van Beek, 2nd-year Psychology student

Almost nobody can live without the internet anymore, it has just become a part of our life. However now in 2017 the internet has even more impact on us than 10 or 20 years ago. Not everybody understand the risks that come with using the internet. In this short TEDTalk Juan Enriquez is mulling the impact of social media and new technology. He does so in comparison to tattoos: tattoos can be beautiful, intriguing and are in the position to tell you a story. But what if Facebook, Google, GPS and all these things you deal with every day turn out to be electronic tattoos? Just imagine how it would be if they provide more information about who and what you are than any tattoo ever would or could. ‘And the problem with the electronic tattoos is almost the same as with the real ones: it is extremely hard to properly remove them,’ he stated.

“These tattoos will live far longer than our bodies will.” Enriquez draws a comparison with the Greek Orpheus. The myth is about Orpheus, who lost his beloved Eurydice and wanted to get her back from the underworld. He managed to get permission, under one condition: he was not allowed to look at her until they were out of the underworld. However, Orpheus could not resist the temptation. When he looked back at Eurydice, he lost her forever. Maybe this is a lesson that could work for all of us. With all this data out here, it might be a good idea not to look too far into the past of those we love. Not only should that 12

be a lesson about digging in the past of people, it should also make us aware of the fact that it is possible that somebody would dig into our past. Somebody, anybody. Not only when we are alive, but also after our deaths, because these tattoos will live far longer than our bodies will. Well, then, because of electronic tattoos, maybe all of us are very close to immortality. Enriquez therefore disagrees with Andy Warhol. Warhol once said that in the future everybody will become world famous for 15 minutes. Enriquez believes that we are only going to be anonymous for 15 minutes. That would probably be the first 15 minutes of a person’s’ life. After those 15 minutes, the parents already posted a picture of how happy they are with their newborn. And boom, there it is: the moment you are no longer anonymous for the internet, for the world. If you want to know more, watch the TEDTalk at: www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_ how_to_think_about_digital_tattoos?language=nl


TEDTalks

The danger of science denial - Michael Specter By Brittany van Beek, 2nd-year Psychology student

People have increasingly begun to fear scientific advances, instead of embracing them. In his book called Denialism, Michael Specter addresses this topic of science denial and in 2010, he gave a TEDTalk that had everything to do with it. “There’s never been a time like this,” Specter stated. People are getting older throughout the years, and according to Specter, this is a great given. A kid born nowadays can expect to live as long as the richest man in the world did 100 years ago. This is possible because of, for example, the vaccination against smallpox. Smallpox is gone, because we vanquished it. “Vaccines, modern medicine, our ability to feed billions of people, those are triumphs of the scientific method.” Therefore, the scientific method is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity. But still, many people deny it. And can we blame them? No.

science to do its job because we’re afraid, is really deadening, and it’s preventing millions of people from prospering.”

“We hate the Big Government, and we run in the arms of Big Placebo.”

This is a simple question, you might think: science failed us many times. And despite all the accomplishments in technology and medicine, there are still many worldwide problems, such as people living with hunger. Specter stated that there are questions and problems with the people we used to believe were always right, and just recently turned out to be wrong. This provides people with reasons to lose their faith in institutions, authorities and science.

The overall problem is that causation and correlation are being mixed up. People want to believe that causation and correlation are the same, but they are not. Some people believe that we don’t need vaccines because there are no diseases, such as polio. However, why is there no polio? Exactly, because of the vaccines. People keep wrapping themselves in their own (subjective) beliefs. We hate the government, so we believe our own ‘facts’. But consider what Specter has to say on this: “We are not entitled to our own facts, despite the fact that we think we are. We hate the Big Government, and we run in the arms of Big Placebo.”

Science, however, is not an institution, not a country, it is a process. “It’s a process, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But the idea that we shouldn’t allow

Curious about what else he has to say? Watch the TEDTalk at: www.ted.com/talks/ michael_specter_the_danger_of_science_denial 13


Articles

Danger: *PTSD* By Dr Mitzy Kennis, Teacher and Honourscoördinator Clinical Psychology Imagine you are in a warzone - you hear shots being fired, bombs being dropped nearby - but you cannot see the enemy. You are under continuous threat and you become hyper alert to spot all potential danger surrounding you. Then, your job is done, and you come back to your family in the Netherlands. However, when you go to the supermarket you notice that you are still scanning your surroundings for possible threats. Your biological system is still primed to spot danger, and it may take some time to adjust to the “normal” life at home. In general, most soldiers adapt to their normal life after a few months, showing how resilient people are. However, a small percentage of Dutch soldiers (about 10%) develops posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from deployment [1]. They have trouble to adjust to the “normal” Dutch life, without potential threats. These individuals need to be looked after, and that is what the Military Mental Healthcare is for. Over the last decades, studies have been performed at the Dutch military Mental Healthcare research center investigating PTSD in veterans for the following aims 1) identify soldiers at risk for developing PTSD; 2) predict who will respond to treatment. Biological and psychological risk factors have been identified for developing PTSD: young age, self-directedness, cooperativeness, levels of testosterone [2], and receptors sensitive to cortisol [3] have been found to be related to development of PTSD. These results should be interpreted with caution, as Dr Reijnen clearly explains in her recently written dis14

sertation (Warned): although it is relevant to consider if soldiers can be warned for these risk factors, current models are too insensitive and non-specific to really use these factors to select who should be sent on deployment. In addition, perhaps you will endanger the Dutch Army by not sending out these potentially hypervigilant soldiers that may spot threats sooner than others. Thus, even though there are factors increasing vulnerability to PTSD, it is better to use this information to monitor individuals at risk, rather than using this to select out these soldiers at risk. Second, studies from myself and colleagues showed that neurobiological differences at baseline can predict who will stay chronically ill and who will recover. For example, hippocampal volume [4], and anterior cingulate cortex activity and connectivity [5] have been shown to differ between persistent PTSD patients and patients who will remit. Moreover, only about half of the PTSD patients is accurately treated by our current golden standard methods. This shows the need for more research into the (neurobiological) differences between patients that do and do not respond to treatment, in order to develop new treatments for these individuals in the future. For you as honours students it may be good to think of the effect of being in a new environment, for example during your creative challenge or when studying abroad. This can also be a challenging time, where you meet a lot of new people, are outside your comfort zone, and perhaps in a bit more unstable environment then here in the Netherlands, just like soldiers being away on deploy-


Articles ment. Perhaps you may feel a bit alone at some points, or challenged by new situations. In these situations, you will learn to be flexible, you will learn how these situations will affect you and how you can adapt to your new situation and you may appreciate things from back home more. For me it was Dutch cheese, and my friends and family I missed the most when I was in Australia for a year. I learned that I really appreciate cooking for others and not only for myself. These experiences may make you more resilient and flexible to danger in the future. See it as important training in adjusting to new situations! Enjoy!

References [1] Eekhout, I., Reijnen, A., Vermetten, E., Geuze, E. (2016). Post-traumatic stress symptoms 5 years after military deployment to Afghanistan: an observational cohort study, The Lancet Psychiatry, 3 (1), 58-64 [2] From 18 July on download here the dissertation of Alieke Reijnen, PhD; WARNED https://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/358436. [3] Van Zuiden, M., Geuze, E., Willemen, H., Vermetten, E., Maas, M., Heijnen, C., & Kavelaars, A. (2011). Pre-Existing High Glucocorticoid Receptor Number Predicting Development of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms After Military Deployment. American Journal

of Psychiatry, 168 (1), 89-96 [4] Van Rooij, S., Kennis, M. Sjouwerman, R., Van den Heuvel, M., Kahn, R., Geuze, E. (2015). Smaller hippocampal volume as a vulnerability factor for persistence of PTSD. Psychological Medicin, 45 (13), 2737-2746 [5] Kennis, M., Reijnen, A., Van Rooij, S., Geuze, E. (2017). The predictive value of dorsal cingulate activity and fractional anisotropy on long-term PTSD symptom severity. Depression and Anxiety, 34 (5), 410-418

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Columns

Teaching a child about safety By Marieke van Leijen, Past Reality Integration (PRI) therapist, and Anne de Bruin, 2nd-year Psychology student Last week I was standing outside on the sidewalk, having a chat with my next-door neighbour. Suddenly his son Dennis, 3 years old, came running towards us from across the street. He crossed without looking. A car was driving nearby, but luckily not close enough to hit the little boy. Everything turned out okay. At least, I thought so. However, Dennis’ father grabbed his son’s arm and told him angrily that he should not have crossed the street without paying attention. The boy cringed.

“The father could have responded in several different ways. But why then did he get so angry?” I was watching this scene with pain in my heart. What happened? I wondered. The father could have responded in several different ways. But why then did he get so angry? And what was the effect of this intense reaction on his child? The answer to these questions cannot be found solely through rational thinking. An adequate sense of empathy is needed to understand such a situation and the impact it could have on a little boy like Dennis. The ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, of both father and son, makes you understand better what they are going through and how to help them as a therapist. Of course, I was not their therapist, but still 16

this kind of situations tends to get my interest. When I place myself in the position of my neighbour, I think he must have been scared for his son to suddenly cross the road. This, I would say, is very understandable. However, fear is not what he was showing. It seems like anger was placed on top of his fear, which he then averted on his son as if it was Dennis’ fault that he got scared. I am sure that this was not the father’s intention, but it was what was happening. When I then place myself in the child’s position, I think he must have gotten scared by his father’s angry response. What he is perceiving, is not that crossing a road without looking is dangerous, but that his father is dangerous. After all, his father is not lovingly trying to protect his son from getting harmed, but he is placing his fear upon him by getting angry. This anger, however, pulls away the attention from what my neighbour actually wanted to tell his son, because the fright tells his son more about him than about traffic. If I am right, the father achieves something totally different from what he intended to, namely that his son will be scared of him instead of being scared of traffic.


Columns This is what could happen with everything we teach our children. When a child feels that the caregiver really is worried about him, about his safety or development, he will be able to focus on that. However, when a child feels that the message he is receiving is actually about the caregiver’s own feelings of need or fear, he will only be confused. For who then is the child learning something, if it is not for himself? Can we ask a child to change his or her behavior because we cannot control our own emotions properly? And what are the consequences of such appeals, when it occurs more often, on the long term? It is commonly known that psychic problems strongly correlate with traumatic childhood experiences. This is supported by scientific research with the Attachment Theory [1]. Within this theory, a distinction is made between safe and unsafe attachment. Safe attachment develops when the primary caregiver is able to recognize the emotions and behavior of their child, separate from their own emotions. This then leads to stable relationships on the long term, better dispute resolution abilities and the ability to be supportive of one another [2]. However, I wonder whether there would actually exist such a thing as absolute safe attachment. Because, what exactly is the definition of a traumatic experience? Could we not describe the situation I mentioned above as a trauma as well? The child is still fully dependent and does not yet have the time perception that adults do. And what parent, I ask you, can always control their emotions and bring up the energy to fully pay attention to their child, support and comfort it? Of course, consequences will not have an impact as high as when maltreatment or abuse are the case, but I think we should not underplay the impact of parent’s ‘normal’ emotions on a child. As far as I’m concerned, psychic problems are part of

a continuous scale. Don’t we all suffer from mental obstacles from time to time? A few days later, I was walking with a friend of mine through her hometown. She has a son named Tom, two years old, who is always playing with his ball. We went for a walk in the park and Tom had, of course, his ball with him, which rolled away from time to time. When we reached a street, however, this became dangerous. Just before we arrived at the edge of the sidewalk, my friend kneeled down besides Tom and pointed towards the cars. “Try holding your ball very tight now, Tom, because there are cars passing this street. Can you see?” When we arrived on the other side, Tom only released his ball after looking questioningly at his mother. He fully trusted her judgment of safety. I was glad to see that communicating with children like this is also possible.

References [1] Kerig, P., Ludlow, A. & Wenar, C. (2012). Developmental psychopathology from infancy through adolescence, with DSM5 update supplement. London: McGraw-Hill. [2] De Waal, J. (2006). Partnerrelatietherapie, regulatie van emotie en gehechtheidstheorieën. Systeemtherapie, 4, 200-217.

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Columns

Dangerous? Not dangerous? Or not critical?

By Arjan van Tilborg, MSc, Honourscoördinator Educational Sciences We constantly encounter danger in our lives. Luckily, we humans evolved over a long period of time, becoming able to cope with all this ‘danger’. On the other hand, we also may come up with danger or dangerous beliefs that may not be so dangerous after all! Well, that’s what we think. For instance, research findings are constantly summarized in popular magazines or news websites about what is dangerous for our health or well-being, but what can we believe from what those news providers actually write down? In this article, I wrote down three topics that are thought to be dangerous, but appear not to be that dangerous after all, according to certain news items or according to a certain study! At least, that’s what I ‘conclude’. As an honours student, be aware of these conclusions; is it really true what I’ve written down below? What do you think of these ‘conclusions’? Think critically!

“Be critical and find out yourself what really to believe when reading about science!” 3. Coffee: On average, an individual drinks approximately 148 liters of coffee a year. It is thought that coffee reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your daily sleep-wake cycle, and that the caffeine within a cup of coffee evokes brain-activity, both causing sleeping problems. Moreover, it is thought that coffee has a negative influence on your intestines, your esophagus 18

and your stomach. All of this could well be, but coffee has far more positive outcomes for your health. A review study by Poole et al. [1] showed that coffee consumption was associated with lower risk for multiple types of cancer, cardiovascular mortality, and type 2 diabetes, and that coffee consumption had beneficial associations with Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Nothing to be worried about?! Well, be careful with the amount of coffee you drink every day. The authors concluded that the largest relative risk reduction to occur in individuals drinking three to four cups a day. Drinking 148 liters of coffee a year equals two cups of coffee a day. So, we can tentatively state that drinking average amounts of coffee will not be that dangerous for your health at all! Can we? 2. Ticks: When you were young, your mother probably ‘investigated’ your body on ticks after you played in the woods. We all know that tick bites may cause Lyme disease, with individuals suffering from fever and headaches as short-term illness, but more severe complications may occur on the long-term, such as facial nerve paralysis or even meningitis! However, a study by Jacobs et al. [2] showed that from the 146 people who were


Columns bitten by a tick, only one person suffered from signs related to Lyme disease, which is even less than 1% of all tick bites. Can we conclude from this study that tick bites aren’t that dangerous after all? Think critically yourself when you’re only reading the title of this study, which states that there is only a small chance of suffering from lymeborreliosis after suffering a tick bite at the island Ameland… . 1. App and drive (a bicycle): We’re thinking that we are aware about the dangers of being on our smartphone whilst driving through the city centre on our bike, aren’t we? Research by Valkenberg, Nijman, Schepers, Panneman, and Klein Wolt [3] showed that in the Netherlands, in approximately 1.2% of all bicycle accidents, smartphone use was involved. Although research showed that cycling behavior became worse when the cyclist was busy using a smartphone, a cyclist also adapts its cycling behavior when he/she is using a smartphone. Cyclists drive more slowly or drive more carefully, which makes them less vulnerable to become involved in a (severe) cycling accident! Still, our minister of infrastructure has plans to prohibit smartphone use on the bicycle from the year 2020 onwards. So, prepare yourself for this upcoming law and be aware to act socially and respectful when you are a road user; don’t app and drive! Does the aforementioned explanation about the non-dangers of smartphone-and-cycle mean that we can use our smartphone on our bikes with safety? In other words; do you agree with the minister of infrastructure that smartphone use on your bicycle should be punished? Or do you think that the minister must reconsider her plans? In all, the aforementioned topics are, of course, a little bit overstated and undifferentiated, but the core take home message is;

do not always believe what you’re reading! Take in mind the danger of research summaries written in news websites, newspapers, online magazines, or even this article in the Think Big Magazine! Be critical and find out yourself what really to believe when reading about science!

References [1] Poole, R., Kennedy, O. J., Roderick, P., Fallowfield, J. A., Hayes, P. C., & Parkes, J. (2017). Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. The British Medical Journal, 359, 1-18 [2] Jacobs, J. J.W. M., Noordhoek, G. T., Brouwers, J. M. M., Wielinga, P. R., Jacobs, J. A. P. M., & Brandenburg, A. H. (2008). Kleine kans op lymeborreliose na een tekenbeet op Ameland: onderzoek in een huisartsenpraktijk. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 152, 2022-2026 [3] Valkenberg, H., Nijman, S., Schepers, P., Panneman, M., & Klein Wolt, K. (2017). Fietsongevallen in Nederland. Retrieved from: www.veiligheid.nl

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“After the Second World War, the American Red Cross spread the story that eating right before you go swimming is dangerous.�


Myths

Swimming on a full stomach: Dangerous? By Floor de Champs, 2nd-year Interdisciplinary Social Science student Do not swim after you just ate is an advice many children have heard from their parents. It would cause cramps, which would be very dangerous while swimming. But is this claim correct? Already in the late thirties it was advised to at least wait 90 minutes after a meal before swimming. After the Second World War, the American Red Cross spread the story that eating right before you go swimming is dangerous. A source you would believe, would you not? The theory behind this story was that while swimming, your muscles need extra blood. However, to digest food, the stomach and intestines need blood too. So if you swim, your stomach would get too little blood and subsequently cramps, according to the Red Cross. In the worst case scenario, this can cause drowning. Also, the heart pumps blood around the body. When your muscles and intestines both need blood, this could lead to the heart giving up [1, 2, 3]. Reasons enough to listen to this story your parents are telling you, right? However, the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education (2011) shows that this claim is not true. The Journal compared different researches about swimming after eating and this shows that swimming with a full stomach does not pose any risks. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, as with any exercise after eating, and your sporting achievements might diminish, but it will not cause drowning or the heart giving up. It is true that the digestive process diverts the circulation of

the blood to the stomach and intestines, and to a certain extent away from the muscles. But there is not one single case known in which a person drowns from swimming with a full stomach. Most of the time, people drown from drinking alcohol before swimming or because people simply can not swim [3]. It is true that, when your heart has to divide the blood over many processes, your heart can give up easier. When you have eaten a royal lunch with many fats and directly go heavy sporting, this can be dangerous. This applies thus for every heavy sport and in particular for elderly people with overweight. However, swimming after you have just eaten is not dangerous itself [1, 2]. So now that you know that swimming on a full stomach is not dangerous, you can all swim with a peaceful mind when you have just eaten. And keep in mind that you always have to do what feels good for you. Your body will lead you the way, to the swimming pool or not. References [1] Baart, S. (1998, October 3). Zwemmen na het eten. De Volkskrant. Retrieved from: https://www.volkskrant.nl/sport/zwemmenna-het-eten~a470750/ [2] Chambers, P., Quan, L., Wernicke, P., & Markenson, D. (2011). American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Committee Scientific Review: Eating Before Swimming. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 5(4), 12. [3] Lonica. (2016, September 27). Feit of fabel: zwemmen na het eten is gevaarlijk. InfoNu. Retrieved from: https://sport.infonu.nl/watersport/175278-feit-of-fabel-zwemmen-na-heteten-is-gevaarlijk.html 21


Columns

‘‘La Vida Madrileña’’, studying in the capital of Spain By Raquel Coljee, 2nd-year Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology student The moment I found out Utrecht University would give me the opportunity to go abroad twice during my Bachelor Cultural Anthropology, I knew that I was going to apply for this university. Even though I think education can make a huge difference in our world and studying can show you other ways of thinking, I do believe that getting into contact with people from other cultures adds a lot to the knowledge already gained from studying. By being in an unfamiliar place, being dragged out of your comfort zone, having to adjust to another culture and to other habits, you learn most about yourself and about other people. In a situation like that, you will have to start over, you will have to put an effort in getting to know other people again, because you don’t have any friends yet. To be able to get around, you will have to get to know other cultures and maybe other languages. It’s in situations like these, that you get awakened; even when you’re only a two and a half hour flight away from home, differences can be huge. Where you grew up, who your parents are and what your culture enhalts, shapes your personality. Going abroad, leaving your surrounding, your culture, but still taking your own norms and values gives you the opportunity to see things from another perspective.

“To be able to get around, you will have to get to know other cultures and maybe other languages.” 22

To learn that ‘the Dutch way’ isn’t the only way and that this opportunity of getting in touch with other mind-sets might help you to broaden your own mindset. In my case, I left to Spain, to Madrid to be precise. And even though I was never in Madrid before, I was in other parts of Spain many times. I thought that I had figured it out; Spaniards are loud, they use a lot of swear words (which matches the Dutch), they eat paella and tapas, drink red wine, and they have a lot of national festivals where people dance flamenco. Spain is part of the European Union, I mean, how different can it be? Very different, would be my answer now. In my first week already I noticed that the Madrileños/as were not exactly like I imagined them. Yes they’re loud and yes they use coño and joder in every sentence. But there is something else about their linguistics as well. They also use the nicest words when they talk to someone. Strangers on the street don’t address me with ‘miss’, or ‘lady’; here I am ‘guapa’ (beautiful) or sometimes even ‘mi corazon’ (my heart). And so it comes, that every time I go to pay my coffee at the counter in the University canteen, and the lady says: “Gracias, mi corazon”, my heart warms up a bit more for the Spaniards. These little things make me realise that such a small gesture, such a small change of words, can make a person not only smile from the outside, but also from the inside. The thing that has impressed me the most until now about the people in Madrid, is their will to stand up for things they don’t


Columns agree with. Our generation in Madrid seems to have a very strong political position. It could be that I’m in contact with this movement so much because I’m studying at the faculty of political sciences and sociology, where this perspective is being expressed on a daily basis. But it’s not only within my university that this desire to be heard is expressed so loudly. Also on the streets there are a lot of protests. Until now LGBTrights and feminism are the two strongest movements within my faculty. Everyday the whole hallway on the ground floor is filled with rainbow flags, people singing songs, and banners. Several strikes have been organized while I was here and even professors sometimes participate in them; resulting in classes being cancelled. Students who tell something about a movement or a protest interrupt lectures and I’m observing everything with big eyes. I can’t imagine students with megaphones marching through the hallways of Ruppert screaming something along the lines of: “Men of quality do not fear equality!” Even though sometimes I think it’s getting a bit much in the university hallways (for example when I can’t cross the hallway because 40 girls are sitting on the ground and are blocking it), I do appreciate the Madrileños/as temperament and their fearlessness to stand up for what they think is right. Is studying abroad then only interesting and all fun? Definitely not. Studying in another language is way harder than I imagined it to be. It’s hard to come into contact with my Spanish classmates because they all have their own group of friends and I feel a little lost in class all the time. I want to say so many things, but I don’t dare too, because I’m worried my Spanish will not be good enough or that I will say something stupid. Instead of feeling like my professors think of me as one of their students, I feel like they

see me as a poor lost sheep, which in some classes I really am1. Maybe in a bit more time I will have learned to stand up for myself from the madrileños/as and I will have enough courage to give some input in my classes as well.

“These little things make me realise that such a small gesture, such a small change of words, can make a person not only smile from the outside, but also from the inside.” All by al, so far it has been such a great experience to live in the lively, liberal Madrid and luckily it has only been two months and I still have some time left to evolve into a Española. Even though I think I will not learn a lot from the subjects I’m taking here, I am learning a new language, I’m building an international network and I’m learning to adapt easily to different environments. Studying abroad is something that won’t hurt anyone and can be an amazing, educative experience. I would recommend it to everyone who has the opportunity to do it. You will come back having learned or at least improved a language, with a bunch of new friends from all parts of the world and most importantly, six months of memories and impressions that you will take with you for the rest of your life. 1 Tip: Stay within your own subject when studying in another language; don’t study international relations while being an anthropology student…

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THINK BIG

Find your limits

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Articles

Breaking the cycle of mental health and poverty: A clinical and sociological approach By Thomas van der Meer, Honours student Individual Assignment - Dare to Compare Although the global poverty rate has significantly decreased the past decades, with currently 9.6% of the world population being extremely poor, it remains a common problem and theme for discussion [1]. The global poverty rate is an absolute poverty rate, meaning it refers to the percentage of people with an income below a minimum standard. On the other hand, relative poverty is defined as earning less than a reference group, placing it in a cultural or societal perspective [2]. Within social sciences the causes and consequences of poverty are frequently investigated, yet poverty is approached differently by the separate disciplines. For example, sociology sheds light on the impact of social changes on poverty rates [3] and clinical psychology focuses on the influence of mental health or mental disorders on poverty and on the effects of poverty on mental health or mental disorders [4]. The aim of this paper is to compare how these disciplines investigate and try to improve the mental health of the poor by looking at the causes and consequences of poverty. Clinical psychologists investigate and treat people who are deranged or who are likely to get deranged in the future in order to enhance mental health. Research methods which are used are clinical experiments and surveys, often to test the effect of an intervention [5]. Recent research within the field of clinical psychology investigates the relation between poverty and common mental disorders (CMD; depression, anxiety and 26

somatoform disorders). A recent systematic review showed that 73-79% of the included studies reported a positive relation between poverty and CMD. Furthermore, the review showed that several dimensions of poverty like education and social status were strongly linked with the presence of CMD, while the relation between CMD and other dimensions of poverty like consumption and employment were more ambiguous. It was concluded that the focus of research must transfer from examining if poverty is related to CMD to examining if dimensions of poverty are associated with CMD. Consequently, more specific and appropriate intervention programmes can be designed and facilitated for individuals with a mental disorder [6]. Besides studying mental disorders, the discipline of clinical psychology has gained interest in the way poverty and (the lack of) mental health form a vicious circle, which can be divided into two causal pathways [4]. Firstly, according to the social causation hypothesis the negative conditions poor people live in result in a heightened risk of mental illness, because of an increase in social exclusion, traumatic events, malnutrition and stress [6]. Secondly, the social selection hypotheses

“Considering the individual as well as the societal level will result in a more profound and complete understanding of the relation between poverty and mental health.�


Articles

poses that people with poor mental health generally have high health expenses, less energy and are less productive and more frequently unemployed, resulting in a heightened risk of becoming or remaining poor [7]. Both pathways interact and strengthen one another, whereby poverty as well as mental illness is enhanced. Hereby, clinical psychologists strive to treat people with poor mental health or mental disorders by taking into account their individual situation in order to break the negative circle [4]. Normally, sociology focuses on solving social problems within a society by, for example, changing policies. In sociological research qualitative methods are frequently used. Where clinical psychology focuses more on the individual effects of the vicious circle of poverty and mental health, sociology enlightens the societal causes and consequences of poverty, also by acknowledging this circle. Wagstaff (2002) describes several

key organisations and societal networks, like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the health system, which are influential for maintaining or breaking this circle. These organisations’ primary goal is to improve the health situation of the poor, thereby diminishing the poverty rate. Improving the health situation can be accomplished by intervening on several societal levels. On the household/community level health improvements could be made by, for example, changing infrastructure or sanitary, on the health system level by more accessibility to this system and on the government level by implementing new health policies [3]. All in all, sociology differs from clinical psychology mostly on the level of analysis, relatively the societal level versus the individual level. Furthermore, where clinical psychology mostly uses quantitative methods, sociology typically utilizes qualitative 27


Articles measures. Moreover, clinical psychology aims to treat people who have a mental disorder or have poor mental health, whereas sociology tries to solve societal problems, like poverty or poor mental health. On the other hand, both disciplines do share similarities, like acknowledging and implementing the vicious circle of poverty and mental health. Additionally, both investigate how to improve mental health. By investigating on different levels, sociology and clinical psychology could utilize findings from the other discipline. Considering the individual as well as the societal level will result in a more profound and complete understanding of the relation between poverty and mental health. For example, by first qualitatively investigating problems poor people have with the healthcare system it will be possible to solve these problems, resulting in more opportunities for individuals to seek help from a clinical psychologist who can treat the mental illness [8]. Different disciplines of social sciences should work together to improve mental health and eradicate poverty once and for all.

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References [1] Roser, M. & Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2017). ‘Global Extreme Poverty’. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty/ [2] Di Fabio, A., & Maree, J. G. (2016). Using a transdisciplinary interpretive lens to broaden reflections on alleviating poverty and promoting decent work. Frontiers in psychology, 7. [3] Wagstaff, A. (2002). Poverty and health sector inequalities. Bulletin of the world health organization, 80, 97-105. [4] Lund, C., De Silva, M., Plagerson, S., Cooper, S., Chisholm, D., Das, J.,Knapp, M. & Patel, V. (2011). Poverty and mental disorders: breaking the cycle in low-income and middle-income countries. The lancet, 378, 1502-1514. [5] Barker, C., Pistrang, N., & Elliot, R. (1994). Wiley series in clinical psychology. Research methods in clinical and counselling psychology. Oxford, England: John Wiley [6] Lund, C., Breen, A., Flisher, A. J., Kakuma, R., Corrigall, J., Joska, J. A., ... & Patel, V. (2010). Poverty and common mental disorders in low and middle income countries: a systematic review. Social science & medicine, 71, 517-528. [7] Saraceno, B., Levav, I. Kohn, R. (2005). The public mental health significance of research on socio-economic factors in schizophrenia and major depression. World Psychiatry; 4, 181–85. [8] Wilton, R. (2004). Putting policy into practice? Poverty and people with serious mental illness. Social Science & Medicine, 58, 25-39.


Columns

The hazards of communication By Marloes de Jong, organisation counselor and coach

As a researcher and team coach on effective collaboration, I have had many opportunities to help and improve teamwork in various branches of industry. I experience my job as very meaningful when there are true risks at stake. Sometimes those risks involve loss of quality, lack of involvement or a reduced job satisfaction. However, there are also more serious problems being faced, for example in the construction sector. For me, the coaching of collaborations in this sector is most intriguing because not only quality, but also environmental risks, millions of euros and sometimes even the safety of people in the field are at stake there. In this column I would like to share my insights on what is necessary to coach and guide teams that come across such risks, costing them their effectiveness in communication, collaboration and results. I have been lucky enough to have worked with many teams in the construction sector, often consisting of multiple parties of both client’s and contractor’s side. I have been doing that from the context of Tauw Group, an international firm of consulting engineers. Tauw is an expert on technical risk management and has helped many clients and contractors to determine, prevent and handle risks, varying from dealing with the possibility of an earthquake that might cause a crane to drop, to hazards for pedestrians because of a potential gap between a bridge and its handrail. Because of their expertise, they discovered that the most risky part of the business is in fact… communication.

This is where I come in. Tauw wanted to offer their clients not only help and advice on those substantive risks, but also on the ‘soft’ risks like misinterpretation, implicit expectations, disappointments and all other aspects of human behavior that could cause significant risks to the progress, quality and final results of a project. For a good ten years we have been working together to create relational risk awareness, and to help focus, monitor and restore a team’s values and behavior concerning communication and collaboration.

“THE MOST RISKY PART OF THE BUSINESS IS IN FACT... COMMUNICATION.”

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Columns It has been an inspiring yet challenging journey so far. People under pressure of deadlines and budget are not always open to the ‘soft’ parts of the work. Especially in this sector, I might say, where ‘actions speak louder than words’ is one of the prevailing views. And where a question like “How do you feel about this?” makes people giggle rather than it gets them to think. It is difficult to coach such teams, but … it is possible! We have discovered that there are three key ingredients to pay attention to: 1. To increase the tension, to be able to address it while it happens 2. To explore the inherent meanings en intentions and to compare them with the implicit assumptions made 3. To focus on the do’s, instead of the don’ts I’ll give you an example to show how this works. Imagine this: a meeting between a client and Tauw Group as the contractor. Lots is at stake: they are working on the renovation of a Dutch canal, which contains various kilometers of water, shoots, vegetation, maintenance and channel sides. It involves many sub-contractors, a tight schedule and loads of regulations on what is and isn’t allowed to hack, prune, widen, and change in the surrounding landscape. It comes with a 25 million budget. And they’re in it together for a whole five years. We are meeting today, because ‘there have been a few small incidents’, as was indicated by the initiator of the meeting, on the contractor’s side. At first hand, those ‘incidents’ appear to be about contractual procedures. Anyone who would take a closer look, however, can see that it truly is about trust, integ

TRUST

rity and craftsmanship. The contrast between the seemingly friendly lunch earlier that day and the tone of voice half way through our meeting couldn’t be bigger. People are disappointed, offended and mad. The more I explore their sentiments (1 – increasing the tension), the closer we get to the fact that current events don’t meet up with (unspoken) expectations. “You know what the problem is? To you it’s all about the money!”, the principal client suddenly exclaims. One co-worker on the contractor’s side loses all color on his face. When I mention this, he gets angry: “About the money? Do you have any idea how hard I’ve been working, without the financial coverage?! All I want is to realize a beautiful product, to do my job as well as I can and to prevent the risks that threaten this project!” With his honesty, we get to an important point of disagreement. The contractor has been super focused on risks, and has been talking, calling and writing about them a lot. To the client this has come across as a ‘hassle’: talking about all those potential but not yet true risks is causing them to think the contractor is focused on problems instead of solutions. Especially when those risks might threaten their budget. Therefore, the client has been ignoring those memos. As an effect, however, the contractor thinks he is not being taken seriously (2 – exploring intentions versus assumptions). What follows is a range of examples that illustrates the bigger pattern: the contractor assumes he knows what the client expects, but doesn’t check these assumptions and therefore delivers something that is too much, too

LAUGHING


Columns little or just misses the mark. The client, on the other hand, is drawing conclusions about the interests and intentions of the contractor, without sharing them. Assumptions and perceptions are confirmed in their own interpretation. And in the end, both feel hurt by the lack of trust. As a facilitator I always wonder at this point: how do we solve this? The answer is in the grumbling of the group. In their angry mode, people tend to share what they don’t want, what they dislike, what bothers them. So the key is to look for what they do want. I always start by exploring the meaning behind all these examples of behavior, choices and actions. For instance: what is the meaning of all those memos about risks? Contractor: “To involve our client in what we are dealing with, what scenarios and consequences are possible, to make sure he has a choice, in time.” “Ah”, the client replies. “If that is what you pursue, then please know that I prefer a phone call before you start your whole essay on one risk. Then we can jointly determine whether to actually explore the risks and scenario’s or not.” (3 – focusing on the do’s) We use our last thirty minutes to share more of these assumptions, beliefs, preferences and needs. There is laughing. There is less tension. People are in touch again. We finish by determining some guidelines for collaboration and communication: checking your assumptions, making a phone call instead of emailing, sharing your doubts or annoyances with the person who it is about…. In the end a new contract arises: not on a legal or procedural level, but one on co-working and trust!

ASSUMPTIONS

BELIEFS

PREFERENCES

TENSION

NEEDS

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Myths

Babies do feel pain By Anne de Bruin, 2nd-year Psychology student Nowadays, it is hardly a question of whether babies can feel pain. Most of us even tend to say that babies are more easily hurt than adults. However, even as late as 1999, it was commonly stated and supported by research that infants up to one year of age could not consciously feel pain the way that we do [1]. The reactions babies gave to painful stimuli were interpreted as automatic responses rather than expressions of pain. The public opinion on this matter changed during the early years of the 21st century, but only in 2006 did research back this up. The Swedish Ph.D. student Marco Bartocci studied the patterns of supraspinal pain processing in infants and addressed babies’ experiences of painful stimuli. His study showed that painful and tactile stimuli influenced the blood circulation in infants’ somatosensory cortex, which implies the conscious sensory perception of pain [2]. As Marco Bartocci proved the conscious sensory perception of pain in babies, research conducted by Bellieni in 2012 shows us that we can recognize pain in newborns by looking at other markers as well. He differentiates between symptoms, which refer to conscious expressions, and signs, which are unconscious or involuntary expressions to pain. Examples of symptoms occurring when one experiences pain include the facial expression, body movements and sounds made. For babies, facial expressions of pain include features such as an open mouth and squeezed eyes. As for body movements, the activity of arms and legs are important indicators of pain. Sounds that go along with the experience of pain occur, of course, in the form of crying. The signs addressed by 32

Bellieni concern variations in heart rate and blood pressure, which both increase as a result of a painful experience. Furthermore, breathing changes and becomes more rapid, shallow or irregular. Lastly, the amount of stress hormones in the blood like cortisol and adrenaline increases [1]. All in all, when we combine the studies of Bartocci and Bellieni, which naturally are not the only researches pointing in this direction, it becomes clear that babies can indeed feel pain.

However, now that we know that babies can consciously feel pain and we saw how to recognize this through symptoms and signs, you might wonder why research used to say the opposite. Let’s take a closer look at the origins of infant pain denial. As mentioned before, babies’ responses to painful stimuli were mainly interpreted as a reflex, due to their lack of brain maturation. This was supported, for example, by research looking at the difference between reactions from two months old infants and children in later developmental stages. The fact that the younger children were not very successful in escaping from the pain stimulus would mean that they could not feel pain as well as the older children. A different contribution to infant pain denial came from Darwin’s theory. He compared children with animals, savages and primitives with only reflexive actions as their emotional expressions. These were considered less reliable markers of pain because they were reinforced by habits. A third important influence on this topic came from the psychological movement called Behaviorism, which exclusively focuses on observable behavior. From the point of view of the behaviorists, pain was simply a mechanical stimulus-response. Even a reflexive reaction to a certain possibly painful stimulus was considered irrelevant for the question of whether


Myths

infants experienced pain. Such a reaction was simply a reflex, an automatic response to stimuli. This led to researchers being unwilling to make causal claims about the experience of pain, even in the face of clear pain responses. This in turn, in combination with the previously mentioned theory of Darwin and statements about the lack of brain maturation, led to the denial of conscious pain in babies [3]. The statement that infants are not able to consciously experience pain led to the absence of analgesia for babies during medical procedures. I think we can all agree that undergoing medical procedures without analgesia would be fairly painful. Therefore, these examples of misleading research out-

comes and the consequences coming along with them show us once again the importance of reliable and valid research and a critical look from outsiders. References [1] Bellieni, C.V. (2012). Pain assessment in human fetus and infants. The AAPS Journal, 14, 456-461. doi: 10.1208/s12248-012-9354-5 [2] Bartocci, M., Bergqvist, L. L., Lagercrantz, H., & Anandd, K. J. S. (2006). Pain activates cortical areas in the preterm newborn brain. Elsevier, 122, 109-117. doi: 10.1016/j. pain.2006.01.015v [3] Rodkey, E. N., & Pillai Riddell, R. (2013). The infancy of infant pain research: The experimental origins of infant pain denial. Elsevier, 14, 338-350. doi: 10.1016/j. jpain.2012.12.017 33


Articles

Technology and education By Floor de Champs, 2nd-year Interdisciplinary Social Science student

As a child I was very excited to learn how to write and read. I found it a wonderful thing and practised a lot in my little notebook. Thinking back to these moments, I am stunned that there are people that want to abolish writing education. In my opinion, writing is very important and instructive. It’s for a reason they recommend making notes on paper instead of a laptop. Writing makes you remember things better. For me, that’s the same with reading, as I prefer books over a screen. The trend on schools to use laptops and tablets is then, in my opinion, a decline instead of an improvement.

The acquisition of knowledge is an active process in which we search for meaning and connections. It is important that the brain makes new connections, especially for (young) children. Children explore the world around them. Their curiousness about everything and eagerness to learn shapes the foundation of their further lives

Our brain develops most when we move. While moving, you have to coordinate your moves and verify whether they are effective. Keeping your brain activated, will strengthen the brain connections. Writing requires concentration and precise movement. Therefore it also leads to the brain making connections, for example between the left and the right hemisphere. It leads to a better concentration, better fine motor skills and faster thinking. It is thus very important and good for the brain development of children to write. They learn letters better when they have to write them down, because of the motoric movements. Also, for older people, like students, writing is better than typing. When typing on a computer or laptop, you do not have to make the same effort when writing. Writing requires you to summarize and paraphrase what you hear and you make a sort of memory track which stimulates the brain activity. This leads to a better remembering.

The arrival of digital devices, however, leads to children sitting behind screens. They do not longer have to amuse themselves, their attention is on digital devices. This leads to laziness of the brain, because the active thinking is replaced by more passive processes.

Some people plead to abolish writing education, because they think soon nobody uses a pen anymore. I think we will always get in situations in which you have to write something down. Besides that, as I just mentioned, writing stimulates the connections in the brain. You have to use your fine motor skills

Learning is the forming of strong and extensive networks inside the brain. Our thinking ability results from the connections between brain cells, the synapses. These synapses become stronger as new axons grow on brain cells, based on our experiences. The development of our brain by using it is the core of learning.

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Articles and also spatial capabilities. When writing, you have to construct the letters, divide the space you have and choose a layout. While with typing, on the other hand, these things are already done. Writing is a complex thing that will make you learn and remember many more things. There is also research that looks at reading differences between reading from paper or reading a text digitally. In the research of Mangen, Walgermo, and Brønnick (2013), 72 high school students were assigned into two groups, whereby one group read texts from paper and the other group read a pdf on a screen. The results show that students who read the texts on the computer scored lower on remembering the texts than students who read them on paper. It is easier to make a mental representation of a text if it is read from paper because you do not have to scroll. Using digital devices can thus influence one’s prestations. Writing is important when learning, and reading from paper helps to make a visual representation, whereby it is easier to remember the content. Besides the bad influence of digital media on neurologic and psychologic development, it also distracts from the thing you are working on, like homework. Doing a game in between or checking your social media is a simple thing to do. Therefore I think it is very important to keep writing and reading from books at schools and in education. Digital devices can be used as a supportive medium, but should never replace books and writing. Abandoning writing education means abandoning knowledge and opportunities for children to grow, learn and express themselves.

References Feenstra, S. (2018). ‘Je hoofd wordt een trage computer als je niet genoeg schrijft’. Retrieved from https://nos.nl/artikel/2213313-je- hoofd-wordt-een-trage-computer-als-je-nietgenoeg-schrijft.html Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68. Vervaet, E. (2014). Digitale media en kinderhersenen. Retrieved from https://wij-leren.nl/ digitale-dementie-hersenen.php

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Recommendations

Media These are a few recommendations we would like to telll you about

Books

Een goede man slaat soms zijn vrouw (1997) Joris Luyendijk Joris Luyendijk, student political sciences and Arabic language is 23 years old when he decides to move to Cairo for a year to improve his Arabic and study at the faculty of Political sciences. But another important reason why he moves to Egypt is to detect if the Islam can go together with democracy. Luyendijk discovers that there is not one Islam, there are many different interpretations of the doctrine among the Egyptian youth. Therefore it is impossible to answer his main question. Luyendijk tries to integrate in the daily life of the Egyptian youth. He talks with them about love, sex, politics, religion and the West. With humor, an open mind and a lot of effort, Luyendijk shows another world; a world in which democracy is not necessarily seen as the best regime, where being gay is perceived as an illness and a world in which women believe that a husband who sometimes hits his wife, is a caring, and therefore a good husband.

Documentaries

Inside Job (2010) Inside job shows the systematic corruption of the United States that caused the economical crisis according to Charles H. Ferguson, the director. The documentary is divided into five parts; How we got here, The Bubble (2001-2007), The crisis, Accountability and Where we are now. In these five parts Ferguson shows the process that led to the collapse of Wall street in 2008 and what happened afterwards. Available on Netflix. 36

A plastic ocean (2016) This documentary shows the shocking effects of the global use of plastic. The human behaviour of throwing plastics away in the nature has destroying effects on our environment. There are tons of plastics in the oceans, which is a high risk for the animals that are living there. In many countries there are now rules for the use of plastic and their digestion. Still there are many countries without rules about, for example, recycling of plastics. This documentary is very interesting and makes you think of our human behaviour concerning the use of plastics in daily life. First contact: lost tribe of the amazon (2016) This short documentary is about tribes in South-America and their first contact with the outside world. This first appearance of the tribe is caught on camera and a group of anthropologists now return to this area to see if they show up again. The anthropologists wonder why this tribe goes public. This documentary gives a solid view on how anthropologists proceed in their contact with primitive tribes and will let you think of the effects when native tribes like this come into contact with the modernized world.


Recommendations Films

City of God (2002) Rio de Janeiro in the 1970’s: An urban jungle, governed by drug dealers. The film is narrated from the perspective of a young boy called Rocket, but it tells the stories of several young boys. The film starts with a flashback to the 1960’s, when a young boy called Lil’dice kills a whole motel and disappears. This Lil’dice grows up to be Lil’z; the biggest hood of the neighbourhood. Where most kids choose to add to the drug circuit by working for one of the dealers, Rocket tries to stay on the good path and follow his dream to become a photographer. When the different drug dealers become tied up in a war, the whole city collapses. This war means the end of Lil’z and several drug dealers, but it is the beginning of Rocket’s career.

Series

Black Mirror (2011-now) Technology could impact our world in different ways. Nobody knows exactly what the future holds, but the makers of Black Mirror (a Netflix original) show a number of possibilities. The title reveals that the focus is on the dark side of technology. These series really make you think about the role technology could play in the coming years, and how it might change our society. The episodes are short movies you can watch separately, and up to now there are four seasons released. American Odyssey (2015) American Odyssey is a series located in Mali and the United States. Odelle Ballard, a sergeant in a special forces unit, discovers an international military conspiracy when her whole unit gets killed by mercenaries. The series follows Odelle in her attempt to prove this conspiracy, while she travels through Mali and gets hunted by the American government. 37


Travel log Community

FSW Honours study trip to Konstanz ‘17-‘18 By Dominique Rijkelijkhuizen and Jan-Willem Simons - Travel comittee On the 16th of April, the first year honours students embarked upon their trip abroad. This year’s destination was bound for the University of Konstanz, located in the utmost south of Germany, skirting the Swiss alps. The central academic theme of the trip concerned contemporary problems among youth. Students were assigned topics based on the expertise of those Konstanz academics that had expressed their eagerness to teach and work with the group. These topics were new addictions, effect of life experience on development of mental disorders, sexuality and gender identity, alcohol and risk perception and youngster’s health behaviour in social networks. Students were given the freedom to examine and tackle these issues in whatever way they deemed to be appropriate. For example, some students focused on policy interventions whereas others examined scientific literature or made a vlog. The products of the students labour were to be presented and discussed at a concluding symposium on the Thursday evening of that week. However, not all living is academic; Konstanz also offered great opportunities for more informal activities, something we as students made great use of. The city, located at the Bodensee and providing a view of the snow-laden alps, was at times truly beautiful. Of course, one needs to organize and plan to fully experience such beauty. As a result, the travel committee planned several activities for the group. On monday morning the group collected at Schiphol airport. After the flight, which was a bit turbulent, as some may recall, the students landed in Zürich. The train and 38

the bus rides all went very smoothly so in the evening the group arrived safely in the hostel. The first night involved a pub quiz, where students had to guess which committee member corresponded with which baby picture and had done what embarrassing activity in his or her past. This resulted in a few surprising revelations. After the pub quiz, although some were tired of the journey and went to sleep, other students ended up playing card games. On tuesday the bikes were picked up and the group made its first ever journey to the University of Konstanz. The first lecture concerned sexuality and gender identity. It addressed the different concepts of sex and gender, how these are studied and defined both biologically and socially. Groups of students subsequently considered and discussed propositions on this topic, such as how one might manipulate gender as a variable for research purposes. The second lecture of the day addressed legal highs; the rise in distribution and consumption of which has increased dramatically in Germany over the last few years. Groups of students were asked to consider different aspects of this problem, such as how easy these drugs might be obtained from the internet


Travel log Community or how policy makers formulate policy to combat these legal highs. After the lectures the students had time to eat and get ready for the first activity in the city of Konstanz. In order to discover the city and its highlights the group went on a so-called “vossenjacht” (literally, this word translates to ‘foxhound’), were they had to track down and do assignments for members of the organizing committee; which were dressed for the occasion. These “foxes” were scattered across the city of Konstanz and could be found based on certain obscure hints. The groups were all very eager to win and most groups found all the foxes and with that the letters for their word. The next day students attended a lecture concerning alcohol and risk perception. The research of dr. Imhof examined the effectiveness of anti-alcohol videos on the perception of risk and what kinds of videos are more effective at increasing such perception among youngsters. To prepare for the symposium, the groups stayed at the university to work on their own subjects. After a busy day on the University, the group ate together at a typical German restaurant, named Roter Gugelhan. The food was delicious and this restaurant is highly recommended when visiting Konstanz. On thursday, the first lecture of the day concerned youngster’s health behaviour in social networks. We learned that social group norms influence an individual’s alcohol consumption. One finding was that individuals tend to overestimate this norm and consequently drink more than would actually be expected from them by the group. Inversely, individuals function to establish the group norms which were determined to be a product exactly of the initial overestimation of the individual of the group norm. The second

lecture of the day was about the effect of life experiences on developmental disorders. Multiple factors were found to influence the development of disorders, which in turn were influenced and enabled by an individual’s genes and environment. It was however concluded that it often remains hard to pinpoint why certain people develop disorders whereas others in similar situations do not. As mentioned before, while attending lectures and becoming acquainted with the city of Konstanz and its university, students continually worked on their assigned topics. Policy interventions which sought to solve and overviews of scientific literature which sought to inform were created. Additionally, students formulated conflict inducing statements to facilitate discussion with regards to their topic during the symposium poster market. The idea was that symposium participants could vote whether they did or did not agree with the statement and its underlying argumentation. That evening projects from both students of Utrecht and Konstanz University were presented to the other students and teachers. Students briefly presented their ideas in short three minute segments to the entire group. Afterwards, students and teachers examined and discussed the students’ products with more detail during the more informal poster market. Discussion was prevalent and fervent. Both students and teachers considered, discussed and voted on statements. After the poster market was over, Arjan van Tilborg concluded the evening by discussing the results of the voting with regard to the statements. It quickly became apparent that disagreement mostly existed between the students of Utrecht and Konstanz, and not so much within the group as a whole. Finally, Arjan provided a word of thanks to Marijn Stok and the University of Konstanz. 39


Community To celebrate the success of the symposium, the cheerful honours students went to a karaoke bar in the heart of Konstanz. Although (luckily) not everyone had the microphone, everyone sang out loud. Beautiful songs were sung by several of our own. Thomas and Tirza gave an amazing performance with a lot of enthusiasm which ended in a standing ovation. Floor and Tessa sung very beautifully as well and even freestyled a bit during their performance. Arjan sung as promised with the organizing committee, in which he took the role of classic Danny Zuko and the committee all did a beautiful Sandy in “you’re the one that I want”. Max, Bryn and Dominique gave “Mamma mia” a new meaning. Maarten and Daniëlle sung “Summer love” and although we knew that Daniëlle could sing, we soon found out that Maarten knows his way around a microphone. The karaoke ended at twelve and everyone agreed that this was way too early. Karaoke will probably be a reoccuring theme within this group. Friday afternoon all education was done and the group could finally completely relax. Part of the group went swimming in the pool that belonged to the sauna. Others went sightseeing or chilled in the park. In the evening everyone gathered again for the pub crawl. The German students from Erasmus took us to several bars and clubs. Not all the shots from club “shots” were a success though. When everyone was ready to party, the group cycled to club Grey, where the ladies could enjoy 20 euros of free drinks! With different rooms in which different music was played, everyone got what they wanted. It was very nice and the group really enjoyed dancing and singing. This resulted in some people missing breakfast the next day. Luckily everyone had the day off, which means that sleeping a little longer was no problem. 40

Everyone enjoyed the day in a different way. Some went shopping, others visited the flower island and cuddled with goats, and others went canoeing. It was great weather and the atmosphere was really relaxed. That Saturday was a great ending to a great week with lots of new experiences, new knowledge and new friendships. Sunday it was time to go home, which bumped everybody because they would have liked to stay a little longer. The journey home was tiring but when everyone was safely in the plane, flown by the boyfriend of our own Michelle, even the organizing committee could finally breathe again. It was an amazing week and the group became a lot closer because of it. All in all the University of Konstanz provided our group with an academically challenging environment, a wonderful location to experience one’s honours study trip.

Photos by Michelle Aukes


Community

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Community

Community Facts

By Daan de Jong, 2nd-year Interdisciplinary Social Science student Most of our readers are part of the honours community. In the past college year we spent quite some time together. We went to the introduction camp, where the first friendship ties were formed. Every other week, another committee organized a meeting with drinks, bites and an interesting topic to think or talk about. We rolled from bar to bar with each other and we escaped from the room. And in Konstanz we were together for a whole week.

Sounds like we know each other pretty well. But do we? You might say ‘yes’, because you know your Dare to Compare workgroup or committee members so well. However, that’s not the community as a whole. Besides, some things we only disclose to anonymous surveys ;-). Therefore I conducted a survey among honours students in week 17 of this year (N = 68). The results are reported here. Take a look at them and see for yourself how well you knew the community!

Dichotomous variables (in %)

0 1

Are you born in De Randstad (area Between the four biggest cities in the Netherlands)?

52,9

44,1

Do you live in Utrecht?

29,5

70,5

Are you in your first bachelor?

26,5

73,3

Do you know which master you are going to apply for?

50,0

50,0

Are you (active) member of a studievereniging?

70,6

29,4

Are you member of a studentenvereniging?

76,5

23,5

Are you in a relationship?

42,6

57,4

Do you have a pet?

32,4

67,6

The survey was conducted with Google Forms and participants were approached via WhatsApp. 68 honours students filled out the form (52 females, 15 males, 1 missing gender). The respondents consist of 36 freshmen honours student (2nd-year bachelor), 30 sophomores (3rd-year bachelor) and 2 higher than 3rd year bachelor. Data were analysed with SPSS and are available upon request. 42


Community WEEKLY ALCOHOL CONSUMP-

frequency

FRIENDS The most popular series among honours students is Friends (11,8%). How I Met Your Mother and Game of Thrones share the second place (5,9%).

glasses

MONTHLY BINGE DRINKING

frequency

WAKE UP AND WORK OUT The average honours student wakes up at 08:30 am. Most honours students work out regularly: 30,9 per cent of the students exercise twice a week. 8,8 per cent never works out and 10,3 per cent more than three times a week.

incidence

WHAT TO DO NEXT? The majority of the community doesn’t know yet what to do after their study. About a fifth is going to apply for a PhD programme and about a quarter is going to look for a job.

frequency

month.

AGE

AVERAGE GRADE

frequency

STUDENT FINANCE LOAN 23,5 per cent of the honours students doesn’t use a student finance loan. Nearly half of the students that do borrow money from the government, receives more than 600 euros a

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Recommendations

Course Evaluations

Several Honours students evaluate the most interesting course of their curriculum

SOCIAL NETWORKS

By Daan de Jong, 2nd-year Interdisciplinary Social Science student Today, when people think of social networks, they probably most often think about the online social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where we keep in touch with our friends and are virtually connected to almost the entire world. Social networks in the sociological sense are much broader. Sociologists have studied social networks for quite some time, including networks consisting of real-life friendships, international affairs, interlocking directorships, (in)formal workplace relationships and organized crime. I followed the course Social Networks: An introduction to theory and empirical research, and this is what I learned: First, investigating social networks with formalized methods, graph theoretical measures and visual tools can yield interesting results. For example, obesity can spread through a social network [1], weak connections (rather than strong ones) are more valuable for finding a new job [2], more affective support can result in less job satisfaction (in jobs with low task-complexity) [3] and every random other person in the world is on average six ‘handshakes’ away [4]. Second, as we of course may expect from a social perspective: it is all about context. Being central in a network may be helpful to gain status and power, but a criminal might want to be in a less visible network position. The small-world phenomenon (a tiny proportion of long bridges in a network leads to an enormous decrease in average distance 44

between two nodes) might be beneficial for the efficiency of a power grid network, but these benefits tilt to disadvantages when considering the spread of diseases. Although weak ties are better than strong ones at providing someone with non-redundant information, having only weak ties leaves you with a lack of social support. It is clear that the questions about what is best always depend on the kind of networks and the sort of outcomes you are dealing with. Third, social network theory can be used as a mechanism for the important (but often neglected) micro-macro link in sociological theories [5]. It can explain how micro behavior can result in macro level outcomes. Therefore, a network perspective in our thinking about social phenomena can be really useful. So, the course offers a wide variety of insights from a social network perspective. When following the course, you will get acquainted with the primary theories and empirical studies about all topics I described here. The lectures and tutorials encourage you to think about the material yourself, and you will eventually apply this in your own research paper.

retrieved from [4]

References [1] Christakis, N.A. & Fowler, J.H. (2007). The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. The New England Journal of Medicine, 357: 370-379. [2] Granovetter, M. (1973) The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78:1360-80


Recommendations [3] Ducharme, L. & J.K. Martin (2000) Unrewarding work, co-worker support and job satisfaction: a test of the buffering hypothesis Work and Occupations 27:223-243 [4] Milgram, S. (1967) The small world problem. Psychology Today, 1:62-67. [5] Coleman, J.S., Microfoundations and macrosocial behavior, in: J.C. Alexander et al. (eds.), The Micro- Macro Link, Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press 1987, 153-173

porated into only one meeting per week with diverse activities throughout the day. From lectures, given by inspiring speakers, to exercises to improve your coaching skills. According to that, the meetings will be given by two or three trainers, in English or in Dutch and you can choose yourself if you want to join an English speaking group or Dutch speaking group on the first day of this course.

COACHING & TRAINING

“The course has shown me insights into my abilities as a coach, a trainer and person in general.”

By Brittany van Beek, 2nd-year Psychology student

Are you interested in getting to know yourself a little bit more? And do you love helping your friends with solving problems? Then this could be the perfect course for you. Some say it is comparable to the course: professional communication skills, and I would say that that is somewhat true. However I want to add that at the course coaching and training you meet students from other faculties, who can bring new insights to the group. Adding to that, this course has also shown me insights into my abilities as a coach, a trainer and person in general. The workgroup in which I participated got very close with each other and I can say that I made a few new friends! I truly believe that becoming so close, has helped me to grow even more. If you trust each other and start opening up more, these coachings-sessions can lead to big earnings for both the coachee and the coach. I also want to state that the literature is very well incorporated with the exercises during the course. A big plus for me there was that you could immediately see the practical use of the theory. And all these amazing features are incor-

I would highly recommend this course to others. Next year there is a big chance that I will be one of your workgroup-teachers, so hopefully there will be lots of you joining my workgroup by then!

PROFESSIONELE GESPREKSVOERING By Anniek van Lith, 2nd-year Psychology student

A new semester has come, which is something that I normally am very enthusiastic about, but this time I had a really hard time. Not only because of the amazing trip we made to Konstanz, but also because the new courses couldn’t attract my interest… Which isn’t very surprising, knowing that I had “Professionele gespreksvoering Klinische Psychologie” for the last two months; one of the most interesting courses I ever had. And why did I like this course so much? Because it was much more practical than the other courses offered at the University. 45


Recommendations It was a totally different way of learning. I really liked the atmosphere and the idea that you could use the subject-matter in practice. There was a lot of freedom to practice and to make mistakes.

“At one moment you could introduce yourself to each other, and one minute later you could be talking about very personal stuff and details.” I also was very surprised with how fast you could get close with someone. At one mo-

REJECTING MINORTIES

By Lara Buijze, 2nd-year Pedagogical Sciences student Have you ever read a newspaper? And did you see the many articles about minority groups and problems between different societal groups? You are not the only one, I’ve read them too! But until I followed this course, I didn’t quite understand the mechanisms behind it. Rejecting Minorities is one of the first courses I really enjoyed because of the relatedness to everyday life. The course focuses on prejudice, discrimination and intergroup relations and mostly on how the majority group reacts to the minority groups in society. These topics are visible every single day, for example if you read the newspaper or if you walk through the city-centre of Utrecht. Through this course I learned a lot about the mechanisms behind current societal debates and problems. The new theories we learned about, made me understand more regarding the problems in society. During the course we sometimes even focused on the Dutch society. The theories were mainly from 46

ment you could introduce yourself to each other, and one minute later you could be talking about very personal stuff and details. At the end of the course there was an assignment: a reflection paper. In the beginning I didn’t feel into it, but afterwards I can surely say that I have learned a lot about myself. I liked that I gained an opportunity to take a step back and could reflect on my personal growth. I would certainly recommend this course, because I really think it is a pity that I cannot do it again!

sociological and social psychological backgrounds, which broadened my views. Most theories are even applicable in my pedagogical studyfield. This shows that the theories are accurate in many fields of life.

“This course made me aware of my own contribution to intergroup relations.” Furthermore, I think the setup of this course is very well-thought-out, with for example small weekly assignments that kept me motivated to study the literature and participate in the lectures. Also, I enjoyed the interactive way of teaching during the workgroups. There were a lot of opportunities for discussions about current societal debates regarding minority groups, as well as weekly presentations or debate preparations, making sure I actively participated in this course. But mostly, this course made me aware of my own contribution to intergroup relations. So if you are up for a challenge regarding your own views on these societal problems, definitely apply to this course!


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THINK BIG: It's an honour - June edition  
THINK BIG: It's an honour - June edition  
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