Utrecht, Netherlands

Experimentation for Global Transformation

when 13 July 2021 - 17 July 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1.5 EC
fee EUR 750

Due to the covid-19 outbreak, this program has been cancelled for 2020.

This course is about experimentation to catalyse systemic change and confront global challenges: (1) why is experimentation essential as we search for transformative solutions for addressing global challenges?; (2) what modes of experimentation and iterative learning can generate the insights necessary to address global challenges in transformative ways?; (3) what different evaluation methods are used to assess the impact of experiments; (4) how can we create the right enabling environments to nurture, manage, and sustain experimentation and iterative learning? To answer these questions, the course is grounded in case study examples across different global challenges, and through open discussions.

The world is confronting a complex set of global challenges, from climate change to inequality, that in order to be addressed, require profound transformations in the way we live. While these challenges are universal, they are experienced across the globe in many and different local contexts. Hence, solutions need to be rooted in local contexts, but also draw on and contribute to emerging global and more universal standards. Global challenges require a systemic change, for which a series of systems thinking tools and frameworks have been developed. Transformations and systems change have become the new language of various initiatives working on global challenges, from IPCC, UN SDGs, to philanthropic and development organizations. This has generated a thick and dense web of transnational communities of people and organizations navigating and contesting the nature of and solutions for global challenges.

Experimentation, and an accompanying process of evaluation, and iterative learning is necessary to confront global challenges. It needs to be grounded in collective experimentation with new institutions, legal procedures, technologies, infrastructures, regulations, consumer practices, business models, and ways of looking at the world. Locally embedded solutions require a creative process in need of spaces to play up and play out the politics of behavioral responses of new approaches.

This one-week module is offered by Utrecht University's Centre for Global Challenges, a joint initiative of the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. The Centre promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and experimentation between Utrecht University researchers, its students, and societal stakeholders from across the globe. Our aim is to critically understand and confront in transformative ways those global challenges that intersect human rights, conflict and security, sustainability, and equity.

Grounded in many case study examples across different global challenges, and through open discussions, this course aims to generate a deeper understanding of the why, the what, and the how experimentation and iterative learning toward transformation and systemic change: (1) why is experimentation essential as we search for transformative solutions for addressing global challenges?; (2) what modes of experimentation and iterative learning can generate the insights necessary to address global challenges in transformative ways?; (3) what different evaluation methods are used to assess the impact of experiments; (4) how can we create the right enabling environments to nurture, manage, and sustain experimentation and iterative learning?

Course leader

Prof. dr. Joost de Laat

Target group

The Experimentation toward Global Transformation course is designed for professionals in public-, international-, and non-profit organizations and soon-to-be graduates who would like to pursue additional studies in order to upgrade the skills and competencies to contribute to transformative solutions for the world's most pressing challenges using action oriented experiments and iterative learning. These individuals are looking for flexible, cross-cultural programmes that facilitate interdisciplinary problem solving, as well as a programme that emphasises strong decision-making, strategic communication, and leadership.

Course aim

After completion of this module, participants: Understand the (historical) background, the perspectives and the limitations of experimentation and iterative learning as contributors to transformation (s) in the context of a globalising world;
Are able to define appropriate learning questions that need answering towards the goal of achieving transformative outcomes;
Identify the appropriate experimentation instrument (programme, policy, and policy processes) to answer these questions, including ethics aspects;
Design the appropriate evaluation approach that fits with the experimentation instrument;
Understand the opportunities and limitations for experimental knowledge to affect (collective) action; and
Can assess whether existing enabling environments are conducive to experimentation and make recommendations for improvement.

Fee info

EUR 750: Course + course materials + lunch
EUR 200: Housing fee: optional

Register for this course
on course website