TU Delft
Education Type
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2017/2018 Technology, Policy and Management Master Engineering and Policy Analysis
Understanding International Grand Challenges
Module Manager
Name E-mail
Dr.ir. B. Broekhans    B.Broekhans@tudelft.nl
Name E-mail
Dr.ir. B. Broekhans    B.Broekhans@tudelft.nl
Dr.ir. B. Enserink    B.Enserink@tudelft.nl
Ir. S.A. Tiemersma    S.A.Tiemersma@tudelft.nl
Responsible for assignments
Name E-mail
Dr.ir. B. Broekhans    B.Broekhans@tudelft.nl
Co-responsible for assignments
Name E-mail
Dr.ir. B. Enserink    B.Enserink@tudelft.nl
Contact Hours / Week x/x/x/x
Education Period
Start Education
Exam Period
Different, to be announced
Course Language
Course Contents
This course is about understanding international grand challenges: the complex challenges that politicians, policy makers, analysts, engineers and other actors will face and have to deal with in the coming decades. We cover global trends related to cyber risk and security, international economy and innovation, the global energy transition and adaptation to climate change. In this course, we analyse these grand challenges, see how and to what extent engineers and analysts can address these, and contribute to these and related challenges.
First, we will introduce the international grand challenges and discuss perspectives that help to describe their nature. A variety of grand challenges are introduced from various perspectives, such as that of practitioners, like policy makers, engineers, and criticasters.

Beyond description and explanation, in this course students collaboratively investigate how international grand challenges are governed, who and what drives change, how change is influenced and if and why change is accepted by other stakeholders. Students will reflect on how expertise is used by the variety of actors.

In the course, we will explicitly address six international grand challenges that link with TPM research. During the meetings students discuss theoretical perspectives and will study two grand challenges in-depth. At the end of the course students are not only able to explain international grand challenges, but are also able to consider the contribution EPA graduates can make to the understanding and governance of international grand challenges, as analysts or advisors.
Study Goals
At the end of this course students will be able to:
• Explain the complexity of ‘international grand challenges’;
• Analyse the governance of such challenges, and explain the related dilemmas;
• Recognize and reflect on the intrinsic dilemmas the EPA analyst/advisor will face when considering their contribution to effective policy to tackling grand challenges.
Education Method
This course will primarily consist of (interactive) tutorials, research, discussion and writing various papers.
Students will work on:
- A group report on two international grand challenges. This report is input for further research in the governance of change.
- A paper with a fellow student, on the governance of an international grand challenge, in which attention is paid to the role of experts and models.
- An individual essay that reflects on the contribution of a model or expert.
- A game about the conceptual lesson to take from multiple articles, to perform at the closing event, in a team of 6-8 students.

Formative assessment of both the report and paper is done by peer review. The group report is formative only, but essential input for the paper. The final grade for this course is determined as follows:
1. The paper and essay will only be graded if all assignments including the group report are handed in through Blackboard in time, prepared individually, and if they reflect serious effort.
2. The ability to explain the nature and governance of a particular international grand challenge is assessed through a paper (in pairs), is graded (70%).
3. The ability to discuss the role of models and experts in the governance of international grand challenges, and to consider your own future contribution is assessed through an individual essay which up/down grade the grade +/- 1 point.
4. The ability to conceptually explain the nature and governance of international grand challenges is assessed through the game (in teams), is graded (30%).
If the pair’s, individual or team's paper failed, students may improve each paper once. This is considered a retake.The maximum grade for a retake is 7.