Students indicate that they want more attention for interdisciplinary education that connects to complex contemporary issues. The vision of Radboud University is also aimed at linking education and research to (regional) issues. What is needed when you want to incorporate this type of learning in academic education?
The educational concept of Community Engaged Learning (CEL) fits in well with this. Students learn to use their academic knowledge and skills to contribute to solving social issues. Collaboration with external partners (residents, municipality, companies) is central to this, as is collaboration and learning with students from other knowledge institutions (HBO and MBO).
This also means a different educational setting for teachers. This offers new possibilities, but at the same time requires support. Think of professionalisation, time and space. Some experience has already been gained with multi-level education, but an effort is still being made (also within the RU) to find a way in which this can be properly embedded in the curriculum of several study programmes. The aim of Maartje and Marijn is to discover more about education which is linked to social issues from the context of the neighbourhood. In addition, they also investigate the way in which multi-level education can be designed at a good (academic) level.
In this voucher project, students of different educational levels work together on walk-along edible greenery in the Meijhorst district. Two to five students per institution (MBO, HBO and WO) will focus on the social impact of the picking route, the marketing and communication and making plans for a sustainable effect of the picking route project. In doing so, they partly take charge and responsibility for their own learning process. This process is in line with the established frameworks drawn up by their own study programmes. The students do this under the supervision of a project teacher.
After completion, it seems that because students from different educational institutions worked together on a project, they quickly connected with each other. As a result, they easily provided each other with feedback. This project also resulted in the finding that a form of education like this, which connects to complex contemporary issues, is, with some trial and error, very suitable to be implemented in various curricula. For instance, it is important that a project is in line with a programme's objectives, but that learning objectives can also be set within the project. In addition, it is important that all students within the project are equally advanced in their studies, so that there is no difference in the development of necessary skills.
Moreover, the added value of such a project is that applying theoretically acquired knowledge to practice is of great benefit. Not only for the residents involved in the picking route, but also for the students who thus gain life experience and learn about other groups in society.
RN7 made a video about Maartje and Marijn's project: