News

Virtual Winter School 2021

Published on
February 18, 2021

The long-lasting Covid-19 pandemics have caught the world off guard. To keep the winter school going, Wageningen Academy developed a two-week virtual program on the latest trends and technologies in the biotechnology, agriculture and food sector. The winter school welcomed a total of fifty-four Chinese students from sixteen universities. The online winter journey consisted of thirty lectures from academic and industry experts. The customized programme is developed in collaboration with Looker Education Group and open for students and teachers from top universities in China.

Insights into global challenges

"Consilience is the philosophy that we carry when designing the curricula, " says Zhen Liu, the program manager of 2021 Virtual Winter School, "We want to provide students a comprehensive perspective to gain a sharp insight into the global challenges and trends in the agro-food sector. A broad spectrum of subjects were offered divided into four themes, equipping students with knowledge and tools to understand the challenges, and how the challenges were addressed in the real-life scenarios."

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Interdisciplinary approach

Furthermore, the Virtual Winter School was aimed to encourage students to learn how to formulate their research questions and find solutions by working together with team members with diversified backgrounds. The proposed solutions were presented in the form of presentations and examined by the Winter School Jury Committee. "We encourage students to apply an interdisciplinary approach, and incorporating the gained knowledge and information into their proposed solutions," Zhen stressed, "In this way, students can gain first-hand experience of knowledge and technology transfer and gain a deeper understanding of the essence of innovation."

Structure Winter School 2021

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Virtual is Vital

The Covid-proof Winter School has proven its success; not only it is well-received by the students, but the participating lecturers also enjoyed it. The online learning did not hinder the interaction between students and lecturers; rather, students found the winter school interesting and a good experience. Thanks to the Brightspace platform that reconfigured the spaces and time of teaching, which still allowed us to create a powerful learning environment for these globally minded and locally rooted students.  

Future events

"The future likes to surprise us; shocks like pandemics or extreme weather events might hit us again in the future. Virtual teaching helps us to develop agile and responsive education for unexpected shocks and gives us a tool to explore a future-ready education. But we shall not think alone; joint insights from the business sector, government, and society need to work together to guard the education for a better future." Zhen elaborates.


Special acknowledgement to the Winter School Coordination Team, namely Dr. Xiaomei Yang, Ir. Davy Meijer, Ir. Els van de Zande, Dr. Weishan Chen, Dr. Lu Zhang, for your excellent contribution.

It was a nice experience for me to co-coordinate this winter school with my colleagues. I am very happy to see that our lectures were well-received by the students. One of the highlights was the last day when students present their ideas for the group assignment. I was impressed by the quality of presentations and I very much appreciated the effort the students had put in. I hope the students had enjoyed the winter school as much as I did, and hope we see more international students at other online courses in future.
Lu Zhang, assistant professor WUR
If I may use one word to summarize this Winter School, I would say “Eager.” As one of the lectures, I had the privilege to follow the courses as well. The eagerness from both lecturers and students left me a great impression. The lecturers were eager to share, teach, and encourage, while students were eager to learn, study, and ask questions. Such positive vibes inspired me, and I am honored to be part of this journey.
Kun Han, Chief Chinese Representative of the Fresh Produce Centre (GroentenFruit Huis)

More information

For more information about the Winter School Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food, check the programme page.