Dr. Koen Wessels MSc

Urban Futures

Koen is a postdoctoral researcher in the Urban Futures Studio at the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development. As an action researcher and experimental educator, he is working on a novel project called Academy of Hope in close collaboration with Jesse Hoffman and Peter Pelzer. This project builds forth on earlier work at the Studio around the notion of The Mixed Classroom. It is informed by the conviction that in the current day and age, in which complex crises interweave and conventional structures are challenged, we need to reimagine and recreate the role of the university in society. We are particularly interested in  staging and researching forms of inquiry through which students mix with other agents of change, collaboratively (re)imaginge a sustainable and ecologically just future, and explore the possibility-space this opens up in the here and now. 


Koen wrote his PhD dissertation on ‘Pedagogy of Entanglement’, emphasizing the particular ways in which students (of any age) are simultaneously shaped-by and shapers-of the complex challenges that permeate our lives. In close collaboration with a group of teachers as co-researchers, he worked on helpful axiological (i.e. purposes) and praxeological (i.e. practices) perspectives for teaching the entangled student. Key concepts in this work are relational ontology, entanglement-orientedness, entanglement-awareness, hopeful action, inquiry, diffraction, perceptiveness, and integrity. 


At the end of his student years (Koen obtained a bachelor degree in Human Movement Sciences & master degree in Educational Sciences), Koen became one of the initiators of the Dutch educational initiative De Bildung Academie. Central in this endeavor, was to establish a strong and generative connection between education, students’ personal development, and complex societal challenges. Today, The Bildung Academy is an established organization hosting numerous experimental educational programs and collaborating with educational institutions throughout the Netherlands, offering strategical advice, training teachers, and helping (re)design curricula.