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Minor Violence Studies: interesting encounters and flying wooden blocks

The English taught interdisciplinary minor Violence Studies looks into various facets of interpersonal violence. Is this minor for all Leiden students? These two 'colleagues' are certain of it.

‘This minor keeps you curious all the time’

‘The topic of the minor immediately appealed to me. Specifically the course Collective Violence, as I'm really interested in criminal organizations. I’m a Sicilian, and over there obviously the mafia plays a significant role. So I wanted to find out more about that side of my history and of my country. Also, I took an interest the biological origins of violence.

The interdisciplinary setup of the minor certainly was valuable. So many different students from so many different academic backgrounds show up for this course – social studies, political science, gender studies, environmental studies and even an arts student. And I think that makes the subject matter more accessible to more people because you can learn from each other. The broadness of the topics of the minor also keeps you curious all the time; there’s this constant chance that you encounter something interesting, which might even show you what kind of path you want to take for your future academic or professional career. For instance, during the biological course called Violence and the Brain, I learned that women are less keen on violence because of evolutionary reasons. We need to protect our child. Just these little facts alone made the minor so interesting.

One of the most valuable parts of the minor was definitely the field trip to the riot police, where we witnessed a riot control training session. It’s good to see a practical side of dealing with violence. The training made clear that police don’t hate protesters or hurt them. Riot control is really a way to calm down a violent situation.

I would recommend this minor to all students. If you like the topic, definitely go for it.
But even if you're not sure if this minor is for you, the interdisciplinarity introduces you to all these topics that you can look into and give you a sense of where your path might take you next.’

Nerea Bellomo Corpa, third year Bachelors Security Studies

‘Running away from charging horses is quite intense’

‘As student ambassador I represent the department regional intelligence organisation (DRIO) of the police unit The Hague during collaborations with educational institutes. In this capacity, I’m also involved in the minor Violence Studies of Leiden University. A number of colleagues of mine take part in courses of the minor, I’m responsible for coordinating a students’ field trip to a training day of the riot police. It’s very useful for the police organisation when a few us can take part in certain courses of the minor, such as Collective Violence en Victims and Offenders. They can apply up-to-date insights to their own work, for instance when dealing with drug violence of public order and safety. Students assisting in a riot police training is also of great value to us, because for these training sessions the riot police has need of volunteers who are able to listen carefully and stick to their assignment. If they don’t, a training session takes up too much time. For students, it’s very useful to experience methods used by the riot police to deescalate a violent situation and isolate individuals responsible for things turning violent. Some may think that the riot police operate randomly, without a plan. But this is certainly not the case.

Training with the riot police was very cool. We assisted in a number of exercises. First, we were asked if we wanted to be a member of a group which would be more actively involved in the action, or in a group which would keep more of a distance. We entered a training area, consisting of buildings representing a village. In the first three exercises, the riot police practiced charges on horseback and driving people away. I was a member of a group more actively involved in the action. We had to throw wooden blocks and then run away from the horses. That was quite intense. Later, we assisted in exercises where you could be arrested and pulled away from a crowd. For both riot police and students, it was a very instructive day for both sides. The police are absolutely taking part in the next edition of the minor.’

Tim Schraa, Masters Crisis and Security Management and student ambassador at the DRIO police unit The Hague

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