What we do for teachers at WUR

Society Based Education is part of the Education Support Centre of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The Education Support Centre offers educational support within the university and aims to inspire, facilitate and support the teaching staff. Education Support Centre contributes to the optimisation of the educational environment and the implementation of educational innovations.

Society Based Education stimulates and facilitates meaningful learning in 'real-life', authentic situations in which students learn to apply scientific and practical knowledge to address complex and interdisciplinary and societal problems. In addition to testing their scientific knowledge in practice, students learn to look beyond the boundaries of their field, come into contact with their future professional field and develop social and personal skills.

For many years now, we have been recruiting authentic assignments for various WU courses. In the matchmaking process we take into account the learning objectives of the course, the wishes of the teacher and the level and disciplinary background of the students. Society Based Education employees have different disciplinary backgrounds so that we can recruit Wageningen University broadly for student assignments.

What Society Based Education does:

  • Recruits current issues from society;
  • Translates issues into clear assignments for students;
  • Inform social partners about practical matters, such as responsiblities, costs, time investement, intellectual ownership and copyright;
  • Talks to social partners about what they can expect from the learning process and the outcome of collaboration with students.

Why a collaboration with Society Based Education?

Thanks to our many years of experience in recruiting and describing authentic student projects and monitoring the learning process, we have built up knowledge on how to optimally design the learning process in which students work together with social partners. We are happy to share this knowledge with teachers at WUR so that the learning process has added value for all the stakeholders involved.

Engaged research connecting community with higher education

ENtRANCE (ENgaged ReseArch coNnecting Community with higher Education) is a EU Erasmus+ project that ran between 2017-2020. The project goal was to explore and enhance societal engagement of students and academic staff delivering scientific research support to local communities which face societal challenges.

The project partner institutions involved were: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (coordinating institution), Wageningen University, Instituto Universitário da Maia, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, and Vilnius College of Technologies and Design. The ENtRANCE project is part of the wider Living Knowledge Network.

The project results are published in this handbook. The handbook is intended primarily for education institutions seeking to utilize the skills of students and staff to engage in research projects together with civil society organizations.

Click here to read more about this project and the project results.

Examples of WU courses for which we recruit authentic assignments:

Settings for Health Promotion (HSO-30806)

Many factors related to health and well-being, such as social position, level of literacy, culture and policy, lie outside the health sector. Health Promotion is an integrated approach, in which, in addition to disease, health and the social and cultural context in which people live, work and play are central. These 'settings' offer opportunities to promote health and well-being in an effective and cost-effective manner. In this course, Master’s students are assigned the tasks of researching and mapping the opportunities and possibilities of a 'real-life case'.

Examples of 'real-life cases' are:

  • The design of a business park to promote the well-being of employees;

  • The positive influence of a care farm on the well-being of clients;

  • New housing concepts for the elderly so that they can continue to live independently for as long as possible.

Environmental Project Studies (ETE-25812)

In this course Bachelor’s students work on a current, multidisciplinary environmental issue. Based on an assignment from a commissioner, the students write a project proposal and implement it. An assignment must contain at least one of the following 3 domains:

  1. Environmental System Analysis

  2. Environmental Technology

  3. Environmental Policy

The assignments are of an extensive nature. After all, it is a learning objective of the course that the students learn to enter into dialogue with the commissioner and identify suitable research questions together.

Design of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies (WSG-60812)

In multidisciplinary teams of 4 to 7 Master students, students from the MSc programs Climate Studies and Earth & Environment work on an authentic consultancy assignment for a commissioner. Possible commissioners are local, regional or national government institutions, regional water authorities, research institutions, international NGOs or private institutions.

Case Studies Product Quality (FQD-24306)

Based on the literature and discussions, the students advise their commissioner on the next feasible step required to implement or improve a product, process or technology. The Bachelor’s student teams are asked to link their proposed product or process improvement to existing practical business operations.

Communication and Persuasion (CPT-23306)

This Bachelor’s programme deals with the basic principles of persuasion and social influence. The underlying processes of persuasion and exerting influence will be studied from a social psychological perspective. Questions addressed include: 'What are attitudes, and how can they be changed?', 'How are people affected by their social environment?' and 'Can people be influenced without being aware of it?' The course aims to help students better understand people's behaviour, both on an individual and group level, by applying recent theories of persuasiveness to real-life situations. This course is taught in the 2nd year of the Bachelor’s Communication and Life Sciences and Business & Consumer Studies. The assignments we recruit for this course should offer students the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge acquired during the course about processes of social influence and persuasion.

Academic Consultancy Training (YRM-60809)

The aim of this Master’s course is to offer students the opportunity to carry out an academic consultancy project in collaboration with an external commissioner. Students work in multidisciplinary (and often multicultural) teams in a trans-disciplinary way. This means that, based on the collection and analysis of academic data, the student team combines academic and practical knowledge to respond to the commissioner's question or challenge. The project is concluded with an academic consultancy advice for future actions for the commissioner.