Eva Goudswaard en Xander de Vries & the Tilburg Education Profile

Outreaching Honors Program: help others and develop yourself

Xander de Vries and Eva Goudswaard are enrolled in different Bachelor’s degree programs – Global Law and Psychology, respectively – but both of them participated in the Outreaching Honors Program. I asked them about the program and how it relates to the three pillars of the Tilburg Educational Profile: Knowledge, Skills, and Character.

By Robin de Hoon

The Outreaching Honors Program is a fully English-taught program that rests on three interrelated pillars:

  • Leadership
  • Collaborative Interactions
  • Social Entrepreneurship

For one full academic year, and with the option of a second year, students take a number of modules of their choice that relate to these pillars.

“The Outreaching Honors Program enables participating students to challenge themselves and to meet fellow students from other disciplines,” says Eva. For her, meeting students from other disciplines was the reason to participate in the program. “Through the program, I learned how important it can be for students to join a community.” Xander agrees, but for him the main reason to sign up was personal ambition.

What drives me is pushing and improving myself, and the Outreaching Honors Program gave me the opportunity to do so


One of the three pillars of the program is leadership, which concentrates on the personal development of students as individuals. Xander notes that this element is often called the “small Me” part of the program. “The leadership modules focus on what you as an individual want to learn and what you want to achieve during the program. To help you grow,  coaching is part and parcel of the program.”

Collaborative Interactions

But it doesn’t stop there. The program also addresses the “bigger Me” and it does so by offering modules relating to the other two pillars: Collaborative Interactions and Social Entrepreneurship.

Collaborative Interactions concern the dynamics of project groups and the immediate social environment.  The project groups have a great deal of freedom and this requires students to adopt a proactive attitude. “Students have several coaching sessions with their project group, and while these sessions address how students can tackle the program, groups essentially have to find their own way,” says Xander.

“The Collaborative Interactions pillar is a recurrent theme in the program,” Eva adds. “Participating students are assigned to groups of around six students each. These groups explore societal problems from an interdisciplinary perspective and write an advisory report.

For example, my first project group worked with the mental healthcare organization, the GGZ, of the City of Eindhoven. The GGZ had developed an app and wanted multidisciplinary advice, for example on protecting privacy, on how to best involve staff, and on making the app user-friendly.

My second project group collaborated with WijEindhoven and Buurt in Bloei. These organizations wanted us to develop an instrument they could use to qualitatively measure social cohesion in neighborhoods. We developed an app and wrote an action plan on how measurements could be best carried out.”

Social Entrepreneurship

The aim of the Social Entrepreneurship modules is to approach societal challenges in innovative ways, mainly by focusing on improvements students believe are called for.

In addition, students attend guest lectures on Social Entrepreneurship. For example, a speaker of FranklinCovey, a renowned firm that provides time management training and assessment services for organizations and individuals, gave several lectures on the firm’s core philosophy: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Community projects

To allow and enable participating students to build an individualized Outreaching profile, they are offered a wide array of modules relating to the three pillars. One such module is Community Projects, in which students participate in self-organized volunteer organizations that focus on a variety of social topics.

Eva and Xander both participated in this module, each joining an organization. Eva became involved in DICE, a foundation established in 2013, that raises money for an orphanage in India. DICE uses its funds to promote education for underpriviliged children by providing a safe and educational environment.

Xander joined Lend a Hand, a foundation that helps refugees: “We went to Dover and Calais to help out in refugee camps.”

You are pushed to do as much as possible yourself and that gives you a great deal of responsibility

Personal development

Eva and Xander point out that the Outreaching Honors Program focuses on personal development in the context of knowledge, skills, and character in a way that their regular degree programs do not offer. “The program doesn’t so much focus on acquiring new knowledge as it does on learning new skills and on character development.

As an Honors Program student, you are pushed to do as much as possible yourself and that gives you a great deal of responsibility,” says Eva, “and that in turn pushes you to go the extra mile.” Xander concurs: “Because of the freedom the program offers and the proactive attitude participating students are expected to show, I personally have acquired several skills and competences.

"The Outreaching Honors Program enables you to employ your knowledge and skills to help resolve societal problems.”

Read more about the Outreaching Honors Program

Read more about the Tilburg Educatioal Program