Interaction and learning from each other. That is the approach of the train-the-trainer program HAS University of Applied Sciences started this spring with 2 Romanian universities and their partners. They are the University of Architecture and Urban Planning and the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, both located in Bucharest. The program is part of the Urban Landscapes Romania project of the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) and kicked off on April 21 with an online meet & greet.
"Within the Urban Landscapes Romania project, several Dutch companies are working together on the design of cities," states Esther Vennekens, program leader from HAS University of Applied Sciences. "Think about safety, sustainability and green management. The underlying aim is to boost trade with Romania. But in addition to the financial incentive, the focus is also on knowledge exchange and we at HAS University of Applied Sciences have jumped on board. We would like to establish a relationship with local universities in countries that are developing rapidly. It's a way to share knowledge and learn from each other."
Meet & greet
Normally, such a program starts with a physical visit to get to know each other. But due to corona, such a mission was always postponed. Eventually, the initial contact took place mainly online and the parties decided to transform the mission into an online meet & greet on April 21. Lecturers Paulo van Breugel and Paul van der Donk had a part in the meet & greet and told us that it was a nice, open meeting. "The focus was on what opportunities and challenges there are in the education sector, keeping in mind what cities may look like in 2030. There are many similarities in how Dutch and Romanian cities are developing and greening and we could really find each other in that."
Mix of topics
After a general exploration, the participants worked in small groups to draw up a joint list of topics for the remainder of the program. A great result, according to both Esther and Paulo and Paul. Esther: "The two universities were also working together before the start of the program, but now there is a concrete list of topics that we can work on together in the coming period. It has become a mix of substantive topics in the field of urban and landscape design and topics that deal with our forms of education." Paul adds: "In doing so, we focus on interaction. For example, we show how we form a curriculum based on developments in the market. They have a scientific mandate and we want to hear how they deploy it."
A series of 6 online lessons is planned, starting in the new academic year every last Friday of the month. In April 2022 an excursion week will follow as a conclusion, during which it is hoped that it will still be possible to meet each other physically in the Netherlands and also to make company visits. Esther: "The universities would like to learn from us how they can better integrate practical cases in their education and have students work more on a project basis. The challenge here is to investigate what expertise the universities have, what the interests of local companies are and how you can bring the two together. We as HAS also learn a lot from this, it is a way to test whether our educational concept is transferable. We also create opportunities for students to work in Romania, think of internships, projects and research. This mainly involves students from the Management of the Living Environment and Applied Geo-information Science courses."