During the final meeting of the Thesis Project on 10 February, several students presented their theses. Students from different disciplines conduct research on formulated practice-oriented challenges in The Hague South-West. 'The Thesis Project provides a connection between theory and practice.'
Text: Abdelkarim Megaiz (Leiden University)
Photos: Nesie Wang
The education platform is a partnership of TU Delft, Erasmus University, and Leiden University. The final meeting was a nice, balanced mix of students, stakeholders, and supervisors from the university. Clearly, the project is catching on: the number of participating students has increased from 94 to 500. This popularity is not surprising, according to Mandy Koenraads, coordinator of the Thesis Project. 'It takes more work than a regular thesis process, but it also creates more connections with stakeholders and other interested parties. In addition, students receive several workshops, where they expand their professional skills and learn what it is like to collaborate with stakeholders.'
Stakeholders can range from the municipality of The Hague, various neighbourhood professionals, such as youth workers, to residents of the municipality. 'Anyone can participate as a stakeholder. All we expect is that they act as contacts for the students and are present during the kick-off, where the students present their ideas,' Mandy reveals. The stakeholders contribute various practical challenges for the students to work on. The supervisors from the universities then help the students translate these practical challenges into a scientific research question.
Mark van Ostaijen attended the closing session as supervisor. 'At the Thesis Project, you bring the university closer to the people. We are accessible and approachable to more people this way, bringing theory and practice together,' Mark says. 'It creates a bond between science and society, with our students contributing to knowledge about the various neighbourhoods that fall under The Hague South-West. Mark: 'You notice that the students loosen up a lot, which is why more and more organisations want to participate in this project.'
One of the students who participated in the Thesis Project is Sjoerd Jansma, who soon noticed the involvement of stakeholders and supervisors. 'The municipality and other stakeholders are also really curious about the outcomes of your thesis. That makes your thesis more practical and you also know what you are doing it for.' He too took part in the various workshops offered. He benefited a lot from these. 'I especially found science communication useful, so that I learned better how to communicate your outcomes to practice. The Thesis Project ensures that theory and practice are brought together.'