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Political Science

Judith Huigens

‘What I am most passionate about is teaching, or really: helping people to learn.’

Judith Huigens is a lecturer at the Political Science Department and first-year coordinator. 

Judith Huijgens
Photographer: Jeroen Doomernik

Which course(s) do you teach?

‘As the coordinator of the first year, my goal is to ensure that the various courses and tutorials in the first year build up to a coherent programme. I encourage lecturers and tutors to align their individual courses with the overall learning objectives for the first year. With my team of tutors, I also develop the programme for the tutorial groups.

One of the highlights in our first year is the research project, an intensive course of one month in which the students in each tutor group conduct their own research on a topic of their choosing. Students try to answer their research questions by doing empirical research, including interviews, observations, surveys and other data sources. At the end of the month, each group presents the findings of their research project to all first-year students and to a jury of staff members.

I also teach an elective course in our MSc programme on the relationship between the European Union and the United States of America, that takes a critical look at the ways in which we can understand EU/US relations and how these relations matter for the identity of these two western superpowers.’

What do you want students to learn?

‘What I am most passionate about is teaching, or really: helping people to learn. Learning does not end after you finish university; it is a skill that will remain essential in professional life. In order to help students to develop this skill, my teaching is very interactive. I want my students to be asking questions, talk and write about the material, and perform critical analyses. As a teacher, I try to promote these skills by offering inspiration, examples, knowledge, feedback, critical questions and practical assignments. As a tutor, I also coach students. Three times a year, I discuss their study progress as well as their specific interests and prospects for the future.’

What is your own research about?

‘I am interested in the ways in which the European Union is represented in international diplomatic networks: does the EU take part in the big conversations such as the G8 summit? Does such participation make a difference, and if so, in what sense? My research helps me to have expertise in a certain topic. At the same time, teaching methodology to students helps me to remain alert as to methodological standards in conducting my own research. This interaction between research and teaching is the essence of what studying at a university can yield: a continuous mode of learning!’