VUB builds new educational model in radical co-creation with students from six European universities

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 — Higher education finds itself in unprecedented, turbulent times. News ways of thinking, working, learning and carrying out research, locally and around the world, are necessary to deal with new challenges. During EUTOPIA week, VUB and its students are tackling precisely these questions. Vice-rector for Education Jan Danckaert, professor of international politics Jonathan Holslag and Luc Soete, dean of the Brussels School of Governance, are leading the debate. EUTOPIA is part of the VUB's mission to collaborate with other European universities as an urban and engaged university on a new academic model for an open, inclusive and united Europe (#TheWorldNeedsYou*).

From 12-16 April, students, researchers and management of six universities are coming together virtually. These six universities together make up the European University EUTOPIA. Each day is built around a subject, and each subject is an important building block in the EUTOPIA Alliance. The subjects are inclusion, new innovative education and research models, social service, through collaboration with local partners, and seeking sustainable solutions in the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The host is the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Vice-chancellor Eva Wiberg, the current president of the EUTOPIA Alliance: “As president of EUTOPIA, I want our students to be prepared for the local and global challenges of the future. Sustainability, inclusion, collaboration, co-creation of students and international partnerships are the core of everything we do.’

You can find the programme here .

An event on the programme that may be of interest: EUTOPIAn Futures with Jonathan Holslag

On 13 April at 19.00, EUTOPIA examines the following issue: the future of Europe and the role of higher education in shaping it. Joining the debate are students from EUTOPIA, the Brussels School of Governance and the College of Europe, as well as Federica Mogherini, rector of the College of Europe, former high representative of the EU and vice-president of the European Commission, Jonathan Holslag and Luc Soete.

EUTOPIA’s innovative educational model

Just call it Erasmus 2.0! EUTOPIA is working on a completely new and innovative educational model, with a new sort of programme unit: Connected Learning Communities (CLCs).

Vice-rector Jan Danckaert explains the principle: “Through innovative teaching techniques, co-creation of course material and exchange of expertise, we are connecting students, academic staff and other stakeholders in interuniversity networks. We are building on existing and successful bottom-up initiatives in our six universities. The content is also very special. The aim of the programme units is precisely these major social challenges that we face. We have CLCs on multilingualism, urban challenges, data use, cognitive science, sustainability, etc. There are already 18 Connected Learning Communities in use on our campuses, and another 12 will come by 2022.’

VUB rector Caroline Pauwels adds: “The big advantage is that we are not starting a new or expensive initiative. We are making the best use of local and European resources, which complement each other well. Instead of traditional Erasmus exchanges, which for some people aren’t achievable in terms of time or money, the Connected Learning Communities allow us to offer short and effective exchanges, via accessible modules. In the long term, we also want to develop micro-credentials with the Connected Learning Communities. And so our European University EUTOPIA is preparing for a new era.’

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