Team CHARM-EU wins the first UU Team Award

On Tuesday 4 July 2023, during the Teaching and Learning Inspiration Days, the very first UU Team Award was awarded to the CHARM-EU team, for the project evolving around the CHARM-EU Master Global Challenges for Sustainability, which tests didactic concepts with transdisciplinary challenge-based learning at its core. The master's programme, which launched in September 2021, offers hybrid education in which students and teachers work together synchronously at five universities, including Utrecht University. The Master's is the first ever joint degree programme as part of a European Universities Initiative funded by the European Commission.

Within Utrecht University, the Master’s is embedded in the Faculty of Geosciences at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. It is led by programme leader Marjanneke Vijge with participation of more than 60 UU staff from various faculties and departments. The Master’s was developed as a testbed for educational innovation and institutional transformations for Open Science by the now nine CHARM-EU partners. The CHARM-EU team receives regular requests from UU colleagues for consultation on educational innovations. The Master’s thus pushes the boundaries of many of the educational innovations that the UU is pioneering, including interdisciplinary, challenge-based and community-engaged learning with technology-enhanced teaching and hybrid classrooms as part of UU’s Future Learning Spaces. UU had a crucial role in the development of the Master’s, as lead developer of the programme structure, assessment techniques and pedagogical guidelines that are based on the Utrecht Educational model. UU currently leads four modules in the Master’s, including the final Capstone phase in which student teams across the five universities address sustainability challenges that are submitted by external stakeholders (NGOs, businesses and (inter)governmental agencies) across Europe and Africa.

Marjanneke Vijge about winning the UU Team Award: “This is a great recognition for the entire CHARM-EU team. It proves that the Master’s is not just an innovative program, but also has large added-value in the wider field of higher education and Open Science that extends beyond Utrecht University and the Netherlands. I am especially excited about the Master’s as a testbed for transdisciplinary challenge-based education and research, where we work together with external stakeholders, students and university staff to address sustainability challenges. In the new phase of CHARM-EU, our current experiences with the interuniversity research hubs and the Capstone phase of the Master’s will be replicated and scaled up in global (mixed) classrooms and an interuniversity sustainability challenge platform across (associate) partners in Europe, Africa and Latin America. In this way, we continue to contribute to sustainability transformations across Europe and the Global South.”

By winning the UU Team Award, the team will receive guidance to further develop the proposal, so that they can submit their proposal for the Dutch Education Award in January 2024 on behalf of Utrecht University. The Dutch Education Award is awarded yearly to an education team that realizes a special impact for students, teachers or the education field through innovation in our education. Winning the UU Team Award also wins the team one thousand euros to spend on a team activity, workshop or training of their choice.  

Congratulations to CHARM-EU for winning the UU Team Award.


A total of three teams were nominated for the UU Team Award. In addition to CHARM-EU, AvatarZOO and Da Vinci also stood a chance of winning the prize.

The AvatarZOO team brings together the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UMCU and LUMC with private and societal partners. With a virtual AR learning environment that uses 3-dimensional anatomical models, the project aims to reduce the use of laboratory animals and the use of cadavers for training purposes in both the medical and veterinary sectors.

The Da Vinci team aims to teach next-generation professionals specific skills to become true changemakers. The team has designed two programmes, embedded in the Graduate School of Natural Sciences in the Science faculty, for undergraduate students and for graduate students. The programmes focus on open education and are accessible to students at any stage of their studies, striving for inclusiveness and diversity. 

We would also like to congratulate these teams for their fantastic achievement and the great work they do.