Universiteit Leiden
Universiteit Leiden
Rapenburg 70, 2311 EZ Leiden, Pays-Bas
Universiteit Leiden
collectifs_d_unitiativesEUniWell - SEED FUNDING CALL

Working with Students to Organize Community Care

Rapenburg100 is a student chaplaincy in Leiden that seeks to organize and facilitate activities that help students in their development, (existential) questions or efforts to work on societal problems. Its existing offer includes student-based initiatives such as a twice-weekly meditation group and Green Kitchen, where students gather leftover food from the market and cook vegan meals for free or a donation. It also gives intensive board-trainings to some twenty student societies per year. Board members learn about their motivations, conflict resolution and dealing with difficult situations that might arise in a student society. From 2019-2021 a worker at Rapenburg100 undertook action research at Leiden University to promote meditation and mindfulness-based interventions for students. It was found that, however urgent the situation, it was difficult to reach students. Further research revealed that this is a more general problem for well-being initiatives, including at other universities.


The Project: an action-research oriented approach

This project seeks to start from a new perspective. Rather than observationally studying a phenomenon or developing a program and then promoting it to individual students, we want to work together with student boards and societies to see what they want to do and what they see themselves doing in terms of student wellbeing. An action-research approach means taking “an approach in which the action researcher and a client collaborate in the diagnosis of the problem and in the development of a solution based on the diagnosis.”[1]

To the student societies, we would make available a current offer of a variety of workshops ranging from performance pressure or improving the mental health literacy of students, but we also want to look at possibilities of organizing care within student societies themselves, empowering students to take on a responsibility for caring for peers. This could mean that a board member or a committee within the student society takes up the portfolio of wellbeing and it would be investigated with them what this would entail. As students themselves have indicated that student wellbeing is an important topic to them and given already existing relations to Rapenburg100 through our board training program, we imagine that this approach would reach - and involve - many students. In this way, both the involvement of students and the methodology of the project make this an innovative proposal.  

Current partners

The PKvV: a student-run representative organ for 24 student societies in Leiden. They promote the cooperation between student societies and try to facilitate their interests through their relations with the university, university college or organizations like Rapenburg100. In the past years, they have themselves received board training from Rapenburg100 and are thus well-acquainted with our organisation. They would promote us to student societies and platform us where needed.

Thinktank Leiden and City: the thinktank is a student-based organisation that works on behalf of the city of Leiden and the PKvV to solve issues for the city. The students themselves come from various student societies and as such have good access to what’s happening within societies. They will make a first inventory of what boards think would be feasible to do for them in organizing community care. This is important as student societies have different cultures and one size in terms of an offer doesn’t fit all. We want to start with the motivations and drives of student societies themselves, preserving their autonomy and having it be a project that fits their own narrative and story as a society.

Various boards: various boards from student societies, with whom Rapenburg100 has through time cultivated good relations, have already expressed interest in a more expansive program to address student wellbeing.

We are looking for:

Ideally, we are looking for partners who have a representative organ similar to the PKvV or even a student society or community with which they could work. However, as our project would take place within existing relations that have taken time to build, we understand if this would not be feasible. We are therefore also very much open to work with partners who might apply a more theoretical frame to what we are doing, such that we can formalize or create a ‘method’ out of our practice. We are also interested in, as we would have students involved in our project, to work with projects that try to build a platform where students can engage with each other. Lastly, we are also open to any other ideas should partners have them in relation to our project. 


[1] https://research-methodology.net/research-methods/action-research/

Porteur de l'initiative

DARDAN Bastiaan