The Gentle Art of Helping

Practical lessons for young professionals
Many recent graduates face the same problem as they enter the professional arena for the first time. They have learned to solve problems from an academic perspective, not in a manner that serves their new employer or customer in a memorable and meaningful way. The devil is always in the detail, and they overlook the relevant details.
Course levelMaster/PhD
Block 3
5 to 19 August
Recommended course combination
Block 1: Global Health, Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Clinic to Bench, Doing Research with Discourse Analysis
Block 2: Human Movement Analysis, Exercise and Sports for Wheelchair Users
Co-ordinating lecturerDr. Meindert Flikkema (winner of the 2015 Best Senior Lecturer title at VU Amsterdam, 2016 nominee for the national best tutor award).
Other lecturersPeter Tack
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, role plays, poetry, interactive discussion, case studies, observation
Form(s) of assessmentRole plays, assignments, paper
ECTS3 credits
Contact hours45
Total tuition fee€1150
Final-year undergraduates and above with a true interest in serving society at both the micro and the macro levels. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Students who are in their final year of bachelors studies or have obtained a full bachelors degree are able to register for this course. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students with a wide variety of backgrounds.
Many recent graduates face the same problem as they enter the professional arena for the first time. They have learned to solve problems from an academic perspective, not in a manner that serves their new employer or customer in a memorable and meaningful way. The devil is always in the detail, and they overlook the relevant details.

The results can be disheartening, even traumatic. At the very least, the graduate, their employer and their customer fail to reap the benefits of years of university training. At worst, fear and insecurity can turn an academic high-flyer into a professional flop.
This course is designed to smooth your passage from classroom to career by addressing some of the novel intellectual challenges you are likely to encounter in the workplace, be that in the public or the private sector. We call our approach the “gentle art” of helping: you learn to deal with the complexity of helping clients, to benefit from the help of senior colleagues, to navigate new processes of problem inquiry and to apply new ways of exploring customer needs.

With its unique approach, you will find the course an unorthodox experience. The facilitators practise what they preach, so you will be placed in unfamiliar situations and set unusual tasks. Even poetry could come into it… But by the end you will be better equipped to build helping relationships in a new world: the world of work.

•    You can explain and illustrate the complexity of helping relationships.
•    You can apply and propagate the “humble inquiry” methodology.
•    You can benefit effectively from “helping moves” and non-verbal communication in helping processes.
•    You can reflect effectively on your own helping efforts.
•    You can improve the value of personal interactive services.
Visits to De Nieuwe Poort “centre for encounters and inspiration” in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district, to the Miele Experience Centre in Vianen and to the Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership in Naarden.

Schein, E. (2009), Helping: How to Offer, Give and Receive Help. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler.
Flikkema, M. J. (ed.) (2016), Sense of Serving – Reconsidering the Role of Universities Now. Amsterdam: VU University Press.



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