Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 410132-B-6
Wicked Problems 202: Developing theoretical Insights
Course info
Course module410132-B-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences; TSB: Organization Studies; Organization Studies;
Is part of
B Organization Studies
B Organization Studies: Global Management of Social Issues 
dr. S.A.M. Blancke
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.M. Cawston
Other course modules lecturer
dr. J. Raab
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. C.R.J.J. Rijken
Other course modules lecturer
dr. C. Van Mol
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2019
Starting block
Course mode
Registration openfrom 23/03/2020 up to and including 02/08/2020
Upon successful completion of this course:
  1. Students can describe and discuss the nature of the ‘wicked’ problem of international migration (using the elaborated criteria from WP 101: value divergence, uncertainty, complexity) and have an understanding of the differences between linear and complex decision making.
  2. Students can identify the micro and macro causes of individual migration behavior and can identify how micro migration behavior creates macro patterns of international migration.
    • Students can identify the micro and macro causes of individual migration behavior from a multi-causal perspective, drawing from history, sociology and economics, and can also identify the legal aspects and
    • Students can identify how macro-patterns of international migration are shaped by individual behavior, using among others push-pull theories, neoclassical theories, system theories and network theories.
  3. Students can describe the relevance of immigrant acculturation and ethnic prejudiced reactions for understanding migration (and vice versa), can describe the ‘wickedness’ of these two subthemes, and can identify the basic theories underlying these problems.
  4. Student can apply their knowledge about the nature and causes of international migration to a migration-related topic (i.e., they can present an overview of important theories, concepts and research on a self-selected social issue related to migration which is currently important in public debate), and they can combine these insights in a policy brief focusing on one or two countries and deducting societal implications and recommendations for policy and/or future research.
  5. Students can present their work to a larger audience in a meaningful manner
Short content
This course studies international migration as a complex, wicked problem. It deepens pre-existing knowledge of GMSI students on (causes of) wicked problems by extending their knowledge about the different characteristics and dimensions of wicked problems and by studying this particular wicked problem from a macro-micro-macro perspective. It studies the macro-causes of individual migration (historical, legal, economic, and socio-structural aspects) and the micro-causes (economic, social, and cultural causes), as well as its interaction. It also studies how macro patterns (international migration) can be understood from individual (migration) behaviour applying theories from different disciplines (e.g., push-pull theory, neoclassical theory, historical-structural theories). Migration-related subthemes that are being studied are immigrant acculturation and ethnic prejudiced reactions from native populations. On a more general level, the philosophical and ethical aspects of migration are also being treated; how can we understand migration both from a positivistic side (‘Erklaeren’) and interpretative side (‘Verstehen’)?; and what are the tensions between a human rights perspective on migration versus national (welfare rights), and how does that influence migration policy? The course ends with a policy brief in which small groups of students develop advice for an (imaginary) EU commissioner based on their analysis of a migration issue in one or two countries of interest.

Course structure
The course consists of two parts. In part 1 (week 1-5), 13 lectures are given. The first week (lecture 1-2) advances upon wicked problems insights from Wicked Problems 101, and discusses the wickedness of the problem of international migration. The second week (lectures 3-5) puts migration in a historical context and presents the macro-micro-macro perspective (Coleman’s boat) to understand social problems, in this case international migration, and presents existing theories to explain international migration. The third week (lectures 6-7) elaborates our understanding of individual migration behaviour by discussing positivistic theories (‘Erklaeren’) versus interpretative theories (‘Verstehen’) and is given by colleagues from Philosophy. The fourth week (lectures 8-10) treats the legal aspects of international migration and discusses the social philosophical, ethical aspects from a human rights and national rights perspective. The fifth week (lectures 11-13) discusses ethnic acculturation and ethnic exclusionism as related subthemes, and the substantive part is ended with a concluding lecture which dives deeper into new forms of migration within the European Union.
Part 2 of the course (week 6-8) involves group work by students on a migration topic of choice. In groups of 3, students prepare a policy brief on a migration issue for an imaginary EU commissioner and his/her team. To make things not too complicated, students have to choose one or two countries as a setting. The chosen subtheme should be related to the general themes introduced in part 1 of the course and should be currently important in politics/the media. The brief consists of an application of the knowledge acquired in part 1 of the course to the understanding of the chosen topic and chosen subgroup (i.,e, wickedness of the subtheme, theoretical causes, short review of research literature). On basis of this brief analysis students provide policy recommendations and/or recommendations for future research. A first version of the policy brief is presented in a mini conference, after which students will receive comments from co-students and teachers and finalize their work. For the presentation skills, students will be trained in labs.
There are compulsory seminars (labs) throughout the course. In part 1 there will be compulsory seminars in which students present the literature of the week, make assignments, and discuss/debate on migration issues. In part 2 of the course, there will be a lab with instructions on presentation skills and the mini conference will have compulsory attendance.

The final grade consists of four parts: a written exam (50%, individual grade), written assignments (10%, individual grade), policy brief - paper (30%, group grade) and a presentation of the policy brief (10%, individual grade).

Grades for the different parts can compensate, yet note that all parts need to be done (sufficient or insufficient) in order to get a final grade. The grades for the assignments, policy brief, and presentation are only valid during the academic year in which they are obtained. In case of not passing the course, these parts have to be re-examined.
Contact person
dr. C. Van Mol
Timetable information
Wicked Problems 202: Developing theoretical Insights
Written test opportunities
Written test opportunities (HIST)
Schriftelijk / WrittenEXAM_01BLOK 4115-06-2020
Schriftelijk / WrittenEXAM_01BLOK 4207-07-2020
Required materials
Recommended materials

Final Result

Policy brief group paper

4 Papers


Kies de Nederlandse taal