The Da Vinci Project: advancing sustainability here at Utrecht University
The Da Vinci Project is a hand-on course for bachelor students from all over Utrecht University. The main idea of the project is that small groups of students are linked to a client, someone from a company, who has a practical problem and wants the students to come up with a creative solution. The problems are all linked to sustainability. Through a process of design thinking, the students are supported to think out of the box. Also, ‘college tours’ are organized, in which a professional from the field of sustainability is interviewed.
Supervised by Brianne McGonigle Leyh, the students taking part in one of the projects were Marius Tuin, Lauren Bulters, Celso Cyrus, and Mirte Bulsink. Their client was Mark Kauw, project leader of the sustainability program at Utrecht University. He wanted the team to find a way to promote sustainability and biodiversity among students through a circular forest on campus that will be built in the next few years. After a long process of interviewing stakeholders, design thinking workshops and brainstorming, we came to the idea of a “Forestroom”. This is a restroom in the university library that is transformed into a forest. When students enter the Forestroom, all their senses will be stimulated and above all, the students can scan a QR code that will lead them to an app with background information on biodiversity and a quiz. In the end, people are stimulated to visit the circular forest and deepen their knowledge on biodiversity. This Forestroom is low key and easy to realize, as the bathrooms do already exist and people go to the bathrooms anyway.
The students have submitted this idea in competition called Uni Eco, which recognizes students that have original solutions to green challenges. In the category of “actions to support and enhance biodiversity” they hope to win the prize in order to realize this project!