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How to engage young people with communities such as AiREAS (air quality and health)?

The first questions to the Fontys “communication” students were “how does a community arise?” and “how do you keep a community alive?”. These questions were a warm-up for the essential question why we as AiREAS and study group had come together, namely “how can AiREAS involve young people in the challenge of health and air quality”. Five groups of three people, aged around 23, mixed male and female, sometimes only ladies due to the large amount of female presence in the group, set to work on the challenge. The initiative for this challenge had come from the students themselves, especially Hannah van den Hurk, who had participated in the recent AiREAS executive conference as youthful challenger of the management committee. After the introduction of Jean-Paul Close, people had about 90 minutes to come up with concrete proposals.

In those 90 minutes, the young people had to master the challenge of AiREAS because it was unknown territory for them? Then they should discuss together whether they could come up with a project for connection and communication? And finally prepare and deliver a presentation. Both the teacher and Jean-Paul Close did their rounds to assist the students with their questions or background information. They set to work with enthusiasm in an extremely relaxed and creative way. And the result may be there. Five applicable and executable project propositions were presented in a professional manner. It is unimaginable how free, open and creative these young people can be if they are given the space and incentives.
Naturally, these creative young people were challenged to implement their 4 x WIN ideas with the help of the AiREAS community. Without exception, they accepted the challenge.

Hats off to these beautiful, involved people. They give us hope and trust in the future!

Video pitches about sustainable human progress: learning

The evolution of learning

Niels van Maaren is lecturer and researcher at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Eindhoven. He tells us about his integration of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations) in his lecturing. “Big deal”, you may say but it is a highly significant move. In our own School of Talents & Wellness we started to work together with the scholing system already 10 years ago by adding the sustainocratic topics of core natural human values and shared responsibility. This is so significant because it gives the students an extra dimension of shared responsibility, awareness and creativity. Their study is placed in context of the huge challenges that we face as humankind. The young people are challenged to use this new contextual framing to come up with new ideas by themselves. It does not matter what they choose to study, everything can be placed into the servant context for humankind, society and our planet. They don’t come to school anymore with the expectations of a job in the future, learning theories from a book. They now come to school to think of meanful 4 x WIN contributions to the world and themselves.

This also transforms the job of the educators. In the past they would be classroom professors working their way through the pages of a book. They would expect the students to memorize the theory for their exams. The cognitive senses of the students would be stimulated, not the need for processing into genuin understanding. With the addition of the SDGs (or in our case the core natural human values) the students to need to process their knowledge or lack thereof. Many start with the understanding of the challenge and then start looking at the available resources to do something in a creative way. They start looking at information in an applied way. Information becomes alive in the context that can be personalized to the personal environment of the student him or herself. Next to the cognitive interpretation an emotional sense of meaning is added, generating an impuls of self reflection and self study.

The lecturers transform into expert coaches, sources of information, valuable support and mentorship. Students become more demanding, communicative, voicing their desires, their needs, their insecurities and doubts. They become magicians that surprise the world through creativity and new insights, even their mentors. And that is what it is all about. To hold space for unprecedented innovation without prejudism, just open stimulus. It says “Fontys for Society” and Niels shows how this is done.