'I could put into practice what I learnt at university.'

Students of the Bachelor of Social Geography and Planning immediately apply the knowledge they gain in the lecture halls in society. Together with social partners, students work and learn in the city, contributing to cultural and urban development as part of their studies. This form of education is called Community Engaged Learning. CEL ambassador Irina van Aalst of the faculty of Geosciences is teacher and coordinator of the bachelor. In this video, Irina, students and social partners RAUM and Stad&Co talk about their experiences.

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Visual fieldwork

Stadslab RAUM imagines, questions and researches the future of our urban life. Every year, RAUM has a summer programme, the Stadscamping, on Utrecht's Berlijnplein. In the city studio at RAUM, students worked with design anthropologist Tina Lenz in the Leidsche Rijn area.

Participatory and action research establishes connections with different groups of residents. Visual fieldwork maps the emotional layers of these residents. In this project, the students spoke to over 250 residents and entrepreneurs about their personal experiences and perceptions of the neighbourhood. The artistic research 'Emotional Mapping' reveals a diversity of insights for the future of the growing urban area. The emotions were exhibited this summer at RAUM Stadscamping.

Student Stef Hofman on this experience: "Unlike normally sitting in books and studying behind a laptop, we now went into the neighbourhood. It is very valuable to put into practice what I actually learnt at university. I think as a social geographer it is also important to do that now, rather than only when you start working."

Connection through food

The Jaarbeurs area is booming. Many new, often circular, buildings have already been completed and many more developments are planned in the coming years. A stone's throw away is a whole other world. In this world, the lively Kanaalstraat is the beating heart of the multicultural district of Lombok. Family-run businesses with roots all over the world attract a diverse shopping public. The smell of freshly baked bread and special spice mixtures meets you.

Beursplein and Lombok seem like two neighbours who talk to each other over the fence at Westplein, but don't frequent each other's floors. These two worlds look different, but at the same time have a lot to learn from each other. How do you build a bridge? Students here, together with Stad&Co, investigated how food can create a connection between Lombok and Beurskwartier. Is it possible to get a bit more 'Lombok' on the menus of Beursplein? This exchange can create local consumption networks that entrepreneurs can benefit from, fewer delivery trips due to the short distance, and it can strengthen social cohesion and mutual understanding.

Stad&Co works with governments, entrepreneurs and property owners on city centre and shopping areas. Charlie Hoge of Stad&Co: "Making an impact is one of our core values. What better way to do that than to give students a chance to experiment in practice in the work they might want to do later on? And for me personally: I really enjoyed working with them and being able to contribute to that, to see them grow and learn."