Organisation - May 3, 2018

Quarter million to improve integration of education, culture and society

Stijn van Gils

Wageningen University & Research has received an education grant of almost a quarter of a million euros. The university will use the money to better integrate various fields, but also to improve on the integration with society and cultures.

© Sven Menschel

The university aims to provide students with ways to approach ‘complex issues in society’. ‘Large issues are often complex’, says Arnold Bregt, who is responsible for education at WUR as the Dean of Education. ‘You can rarely solve such issues from within a single field. You will always have to deal with others. Other fields, society, other cultures. Our education should take this into account, and I think we could improve on this integration’, Bregt explains.

‘Separate components’
Bregt uses the new master Biobased Sciences as an example. ‘This programme wants to partially work in an interdisciplinary manner, but the review committee decided that offering the separate parts “plant”, “biotech” and “economy” within a programme is not sufficient to make it interdisciplinary. The review committee announced that this should definitely improve, and I think this applies to other programmes as well.’ But Bregt does think that there are also fields where it is implemented correctly. ‘I believe that the International Water Management programme does indeed live up to this integration.’

With the awarded grant, WUR wants to first get additional insight into the way integration is currently applied within Wageningen education. Indicators will be developed to monitor the quality of integration. The next step will be to see how best practices can be translated to other fields, and finally, the curriculum will be renewed where necessary.

Research knowingly focuses on integration between disciplines as well as integration with society and between cultures. ‘The latter really befits Wageningen, but I expect even that could be improved in places.’

Personal grant
The awarded grant is the result of an application for a ‘Comenius Leadership Fellow’. Bregt personally applied for this grant with the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO), a department of scientific financer NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). Bregt was one of the few (6 out of 23) to receive the grant. The grant has a duration of three years. Besides Bregt, four other WUR researchers are involved in the project as co-applicants.