After having received a Comenius Teaching Fellowship to launch the Da Vinci Project for BA students in 2019, Bert Weckhuysen received a Comenius Senior Fellowship to expand it for MA students in the frame of the Utrecht University, Technical University of Eindhoven and Wageningen University and Research strategic alliance!
Sustainable development and the strive to make our economies more circular are grand challenges the world faces. These can only be solved via an interwoven collaboration of society, science and technology. Academic education should be at the forefront of training the new generation of connectors, who are skilled in collaborating outside their comfort zones and in creating viable and practical solutions with different stakeholders. This manner of working requires strong disciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge and skills, such as building bridges, experimenting, creating, philosophizing and acting.
Building on the success of the recently launched Da Vinci Project for Bachelor students, a program for Master students of the Utrecht University Strategic Alliance with Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research and University Medical Centre Utrecht will be developed to experiment with crossing the boundaries of scientific disciplines and work on real-life challenges with the involvement of stakeholders. Via an active learning-by-doing approach, students will be trained to collaborate in a transdisciplinary setting, thereby broadening their horizons and teaching them connecting skills, which are hard to acquire in a traditional academic environment. Using the Comenius Senior Fellowship, a new educational program will be set up, a pilot will be run for students of different scientific disciplines. They will solve specific sustainable development-related challenges of external stakeholders through an integral design process. This program will benefit a broader higher education community, as the concept and developed teaching materials will be disseminated to inspire similar projects in other universities and scientific fields.