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Pieter de la Court Medal

Why the Pieter de la Court Medal?

The Pieter de la Court Medal is awarded annually by the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. 

"Pieter de la Court, born in Leiden as the son of Flemish immigrants, was one of the most important authors on politics and economics of the Dutch Golden Age. While still a student at Leiden University, he set up his own business as a cloth merchant, which continued to expand, making him one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his day. However, he was also a free thinker and outspoken critic of the society of his day, who energetically advocated religious tolerance, immigration, free trade, and democratization. Pieter de la Court was a citizen of Leiden who appeals to our imagination and whose views are still relevant today." "Het Welvaren van Leiden" [The Welfare of Leiden] (A. Weststeijn, 2018, p. 38). 

And this is just the back cover of the book about Pieter de la Court by the historian Arthur Weststeijn. The remainder of the short book provides us with fascinating insights into De La Court's life, and shows clearly why the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences building bears his name. And it also explains the thinking behind the Pieter de la Court Medal. 

The Pieter de la Court Medal will be awarded each year for an initiative by a student or group of students that, over the last academic year, has made a particular contribution to at least one of the Pieter de la Court themes:

  • Diversity & Inclusivity,
  • Democratisation,
  • Entrepreneurship & innovation and
  • Globilisation


The student or student initiative must come from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, i.e., the student(s) in question is/are taking a bachelor's, master's, or research master's degree, or a minor, at the Faculty. The prize is awarded by fellow students, so it is an initiative for students, by students.

Examples of initiatives for consideration might include a student who has made a major contribution to sustainability, or students who have set up an initiative to help international students to settle in in the Netherlands.  The important thing is that the initiative in question should be a social one and should, in its own way, embody the societal sensitivity and decisiveness that are characteristic of this faculty.

The candidates will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. Does the initiative relate to one of the Pieter de la Court themes?
  2. Has the initiative had an impact on the surroundings?
  3. Does the initiative translate academic knowledge and/or skills into societal commitment?
  4. Is the initiative an inspiration for others?
  5. Is the initiative extracurricular? (i.e., it is not part of a course or degree programme)
  6. Is the initiative a voluntary one? (i.e., the student is not paid for it)

The Pieter de la Court Medal will be awarded to the candidate who achieves the highest score in relation to the above criteria. The prize consists of a medal and an award certificate.

The jury for the Pieter de la Court Medal consists of:

  • Student-memeber of the Faculty Board (=chairperson)
  • two student members and
  • two members of staff.

The award ceremony is organised by the study associations and the assessor. The medal is presented annually during the new year's reception.

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