In the current educational landscape, little attention is generally paid to the link with society as a whole, according to UT teachers Maaike Mulder-Nijkamp and Bjorn de Koeijer. In order to prepare students for the “real world”, it is important to introduce them to practical issues with societal relevance while they are still at university. This approach will result in a stimulating learning environment and enhanced embedding of knowledge. One such relevant issue with a strong public and societal impact is the question of sustainability in the area of packaging development. A Senior Follows Comenius Grant for educational innovation within packaging development was awarded to UT academic staff.
‘Together with the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIVD), University of Twente and three institutes of higher education (The Hague University of Applied Sciences, HAS Den Bosch and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), we are bringing together the total body of knowledge about designing sustainable packaging,’ Maaike Mulder-Nijkamp explains. ‘In this educational module, which has been recently introduced into the three institutes of higher education, students learn how to approach real life case studies from different perspectives and to apply scientific knowledge about sustainability in practice.’
‘Evaluations have shown that introducing this educational module is successful, but that the more traditional method of teaching is no longer sufficient. In this project, we are trying to take collaboration between the above-mentioned parties to an even higher level. In our vision, all experts in a particular research area come together to share their knowledge. This creates a symbiotic ecosystem of learning together, rather than “just” learning from each other.’
‘A core objective of this project is therefore linking into a wider societal problem and devising solutions which build on the synthesis of knowledge and practice (educational establishments, businesses and knowledge institutes) leading to a more transdisciplinary way of learning.’
‘We intend to use the Senior Fellowship grant and an additional financial contribution by the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging to prepare the packaging designers of the future for the increasingly complex societal issues often found in practice.’
The Comenius Programme awards grants for educational innovation projects to so-called Teaching Fellows, Senior Fellows and Leadership Fellows. The Programme was founded to enable teaching staff to realise their vision and plans for educational innovation. They can use the grant to implement educational innovations and improvements in the context of a course element (for instance a course, curricular course or track).
See also the KIDV interview with Maaike Mulder-Nijkamp: Enabling students to discover sustainability for themselves
See also the KIDV-interview with Bjorn de Koeijer: Introduction of the Sustainability Guardian