Transdisciplinary Education: Good practices at Utrecht University

  • Open Science: the Open Science programme at Utrecht University calls for an “open outlook” and “open attitude”, recognising how openness and accessibility affect the relationship of science with society. It is centred around five tracks, one of which is “Open Education”. Open education involves encouraging students to take an open attitude to society, preparing students for the diversity of views and perspectives that they will be exposed to outside of the “academic bubble” and teaching them how to engage with such views. Open education further looks to removing barriers to participation in university education, including finance, language, and the accessibility of locations.
  • Community Engaged Learning (CEL): CEL is a form of university-based teaching achieved through direct dialogue with society. In CEL, a community consisting of students, teachers, and societal partners raise difficult questions about societal issues, and seek creative solutions through sustained contact and reciprocal commitment to one another. The Centre for Academic Teaching offers a rich amount of (support) possibilities and information about developing CEL education.
  • CHARM-EU: this initiative has launched a master’s programme at Utrecht University in Global Challenges for Sustainability, in which students address the pressing need for sustainability in a transdisciplinary and challenge-based environment. Students follow a challenge-driven curricula with the aim of developing critical thinking skills capable of addressing societal challenges.
  • The EWUU Alliance: an alliance between various Dutch universities (including Utrecht University) aims to adopt a Challenge Based Learning approach. Within this programme, students from different disciplines cooperate with one another and social partners on real-world problems within the business community or society in general. The programme aims to conduct impactful work whilst developing skills which will help students later on.
  • Mixed Classrooms: mixed classrooms involve students from different disciplines and national/local policymakers coming together as part of one classroom where they learn from and with each other. A central theme of the course is that images and perceptions of the future help in determining present actions. There is currently funding available to set up your own mixed classroom.
  • Clinical Legal Education: Utrecht University hosts a variety of Clinical Legal Education programmes, which seeks to match student legal knowledge with the needs of organisations. Students gain first-hand knowledge of institutions and provide legal expertise to partner organisations.
  • UULabs: this initiative aims to create sustainability-related testing grounds on campus in which we bring education, research and operations together. These testing grounds are living labs: real-world experiments in which researchers, students and societal partners co-create solutions for complex sustainability challenges.

Many more examples of collaboration with external partners can be found at U-Collaborate, a Utrecht University platform which can help those seeking to collaborate with the University in organising future programmes.