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Educational innovation at Humanities: 'Students are great initiators’

In the academic year 2018 - 2019, the Faculty of Humanities established the Educational Innovation Programme. In this way, the faculty wants to realise the ambitions from the educational vision of Leiden University in education. How is the programme currently doing? We talked to project manager Sanne Arens about the current situation and look at what we can expect in the near future.

Despite the Covid pandemic, most projects have continued. ‘Sometimes at a slower pace or with some delay,' says Arens. ‘We deliberately did not start any new initiatives to encourage innovation, but it did happen that lecturers came to me because they wanted to do something in the area of digital skills, for example, or because they wanted to obtain an external education grant.'

In 2018-2019, the faculty decided to first support projects in the areas of skills, labour market preparation and interconnectedness of education and research. Since last year, projects in the areas of diversity and inclusion, and society have also been added. 'But good education and good projects naturally touch on more than one ambition,' she adds.

'Students are great initiators’

According to Arens, it is mainly students who are great initiators of innovation. ‘They report to lecturers because they think that their study programme pays too much attention to European or American academia, for example,' she explains. 'Or they want to make a difference in the world by addressing societal issues such as loneliness or climate change.'

A recent example of educational innovation involving students is the magazine LEAP, in which master's students publish their academic articles. Through a better connection between education and research, students are better prepared for an academic career.

Educational innovation and the future

Arens is thus very proud of the achieved results and excitedly looks forward to the role that educational innovation will play in the near future. The first item on the agenda is this autumn's Education Parade. 'On 17 November, the faculty will be organising an Education Parade, just like in 2019. Lecturers can give workshops or lectures about their innovation project, and there is a kind of market to enter into informal conversations with each other,' she explains. 'The day is about all types of innovation, so also in the field of online education and lecturer development. In 2019 it was a huge success, of course we hope to match that!'

Another important event will not take place until after the turn of the year. In 2022, Leiden gets to call itself the European City of Science for a year. It may not seem obvious, but educational innovation also plays a role in this. 'It is a good moment to show how the Faculty of Humanities is connected to the city,' says Arens. A number of projects with a direct link to the city are already running. 'Such as Things That Talk - in which the humanities are discovered through objects - or research into the Transvaal neighbourhood in Leiden by a number of historians. Programmes, lecturers or students who see opportunities for weaving societal themes such as health into education can still let us know.'

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