The ENHANCE Future Lab pilot took place from 2 to 6 May at TU Berlin. 17 high-school students from 6 different European cities of the ENHANCE partner universities got together in Berlin to share their visions of academia and higher education in the future. They participated in a workshop as well as in cultural activities and experienced an international exchange of ideas among a diverse group of young adults.
Susann Fegter, professor of education at TU Berlin and project leader of the Future Lab: “We invite young people to participate in the process of building a European ENHANCE universities campus as they are the future students with a right to be heard by decision makers and with innovative and fresh perspectives on education”.
The workshop week was addressing questions like “How do you want to learn and explore knowledge after finishing school?”, “What do you consider to be future challenges?” and “What is the role of universities in the future?”. To initiate exchange about these topics, the young adults participated in five sessions from Wednesday to Friday, using creative and participatory methods, followed by a video-recorded presentation on Friday. To sparkle up their workshops and give them opportunities to get to know Berlin, a guided tour of the Futurium expedition, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, and a visit to the German Bundestag parliament building were part of the program. With some free time on Wednesday and Friday, the young adults also had the chance to explore the history and culture of Berlin on their own when they visited i.e. the Brandenburg Gate and the Tempelhofer Feld, and made the best of their trip.
A VERY SATISFYING EXPERIENCE FOR THE PARTICIPANTS
Enrico Tagliaferri, one of the accompanying adults on this trip and member of POLIMI’s international office and, praised the quality of the discussions, which gave the opportunity to exchange different point of views, both for adults and students. He noticed the high motivation of the young adults for this topic: “It has been a surprise to discover how the new generations are attracted by university and excited to be in an international environment.” Ingfrid Thowsen, project leader of the Future Lab from NTNU sees this as a proof that “the perspectives and reflections of young adults are of essence when further developing higher education for the future”.
The students themselves enjoyed their exchange very much, appreciating the intercultural exchange: One participant from Milan said it was beautiful to have “the chance to work wit students from all around Europe on a common task so useful to (them)”. Another Milan participant emphasized the social opportunity this Future Lab presented and added that “everything was made in a way to really put (us) at ease, so that (we) could feel free to express (our) thoughts”. A student from Valencia explained how the Future Lab had “allowed us to be aware and to face our future stage in education and the role of universities in the coming years with more courage. Let’s hope that meetings like this one will help build the future European university.”
Future Lab project coordinator Nick Oelrichs (TU Berlin) was also very grateful “for the spirit of joy and the openness in the discussions among the students” and highlighted the “great cooperation between the ENHANCE partner universities that only made this Future Lab happen.”
All participants were very satisfied by this week spent together and are looking forward to see how their views might be implemented in building the future of European universities. The ENHANCE alliance thanks all the participants and promises to spread the process and the result of the Future Lab further. A short videography for this purpose and other material will be published in the upcoming months on the ENHANCE channels.