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University College GroningenEducationProjectsFormer Projects

Social Engagement at UCG

Global challenges is a part of our core programme during the first year. Global challenges approaches the great challenges of the 21st Century from several perspectives. Problems such as the financial and economic crisis, use of natural resources, hunger and obesity will be addressed in lectures, study group seminars and debates with guest speakers, from either a business, systemic or individual perspective. Students choose one of these three perspectives. Each student will write argumentative essays addressing a self-chosen aspect of the challenges using the theoretical content provided in the study groups. To prepare for the essay writing and lectures, there are three academic writing workshops and one academic discussion and debate workshop incorporated in the course.

Social Outreach projects at UCG

After completing the global challenges course, our students will put their knowledge into practice during our interdiscplinary project work. We have several projects that focus on social engagement and social outreach. An example is our Project Rome. Last year a group of 10 second year students explored the issues and problems that Rome is currently facing. One project investigated 'bottom-up' solutions to Rome's waste problem, while the other group looked at the complexity of reasons behind Rome's enormous waste of municipal water. Last week, a new group of second year students travelled to Rome again. This group of students worked on a project that focuses on the social arena in Rome and the interactions between locals and tourists.

Another example of a Social Outreach project that our students are involved in is the Refugee project. The target group of the project consists of higher educated refugees (refugee students, refugees with an academic background or other higher educated refugees). The project concentrates on different aspects of the situation of these refugees in the Netherlands. The participating UCG students will get the opportunity to learn directly from real life stories of refugees by means of interviews and by taking part in seminars to which also refugees themselves are invited. The student-refugees and other higher educated refugees are also invited to take part in the project.

The Submariner

Over the 2016-2017 academic year, seven second year students banded together to found The Submariner ( an online magazine dedicated to in-depth but non-academic analyses of social, economic, and cultural issues. Under the guidance of an academic supervisor, these students have learned journalistic form and trained their eyes to seek and find all kinds of untold stories. From right-wing populism to gender violence to the effects of the internet upon behavioural and cultural norms, The Submariner is all about “going deeper”: into the unexplored depths that lie beneath the still and sunny surface. Furthermore, The Submariner will soon be seeking additional contributors. If you or anyone you know has a flair for writing and a story to tell, we recommend that you get in touch.

Exemplary student work in The Submariner

Malaysia´s Regress by Danial Lissborg (

Zwarte Piet It´s time to say goodbye by Claire van der Wal (

Internet Foe or Friend by Carlijn Keijzer (

How Abby could change the world by Marius Merz (

Justice and Peace
Justice and Peace

Shelter City

UCG is also involved in the Shelter City project. Shelter City is a nationwide initiative of Justice and Peace Netherlands, a human rights organisation, to protect human rights defenders. More information about Shelter City could be found here.

Marius Merz (Second year student about participating in the Shelter City project:

"The second year in the University College Groningen offered me the chance to partake in the project ‘Shelter City’. This project is organized by the organization ‘Justice and Peace’, which strives to improve the access to social and environmental justice, by providing support to human rights defenders from all over the world. At the time we were working with them, a journalist from the Gaza stripe was looking for shelter. We, the UCG students, were part of the ‘working group’, meaning that we were mostly involved in the practical tasks, like taking her around the city, or helping to organize a public lecture for the whole RUG. The most formative experience to me was when our guest had a four hours long talk about the daily life as a journalist in such a, politically and socially, instable area. Not only the somehow absurd idea of pursuing such a career under those circumstances but also the determination of our guest to keep fighting against human right restrictions made this project a revealing experience to me.

After this special project day, we got back to our actual activity, the ‘The Submariners’ journalism project. Our group consists of second year students from all kind of different majors. We, ‘The Submariners’ established an online platform, on which we publish our journalistic pieces. The topics vary from the increasing power of populism in the western world, to the issue of transgender identity in Malaysia. After working on this project for almost one academic year now, the final product will be a book, consisting of all the work we have done. Next to the independent work, we also attended workshops, which taught us the basic foundations of journalism. This project gave us the opportunity to get to know the work of a journalist as well as it challenged us to critically look at controversially discussed topics in the contemporary world."

Last modified:03 January 2019 4.36 p.m.