The Impact Space

Making an impact in the core of our education

Working on a relevant societal urgency from the city of Rotterdam in an interdisciplinary context during your studies. From the end of August till the beginning of November a group of students worked on their ‘impact capacity’ in a real-life setting. Breaking down the boundaries and walls between the university and the city. The first Impact Space minor is a fact.

For the first time we executed the minor “Impact Space: your first steps into making positive societal impact”. This collaboration between the programme Impact at the Core and the convergence theme ‘Resilient Delta’, created a (minor) space where students embarked on an experiential journey, fueled by their curiosity to create positive societal impact. In this first edition the student groups focused on the theme of sports and youth in Rotterdam south.

Impact Space

Different style of learning and teaching

The learning process of this minor was based on experiential learning. It focused on guiding the students to care for and research societal matters with a curious mindset. Instead of concentrating on directly solving a rather complex and ill-defined problem, students were invited to unpack the concern and learn how to peel off different layers to grasp it better and, when necessary, rephrase it and design possible interventions. The process of problem orientation was intended to have an action-oriented approach in which students were required to interact with stakeholders in the field frequently. A part of the teachers guided the student teams and individual learning process, whereas the other teachers focused on the project (content-related). In addition, various experts came in to give workshops on for example design, futures literacy, or participatory research.

Instead of teachers assessing students using a checklist, students need to document and track their progress. They can provide context to why something has or has not succeeded, and this is being jointly assessed. From the start, the students are involved in (co-)shaping the conditions of success and failure.

Really something different for students

This type of impact-driven education requires and trains different skills and capabilities that are not usually needed for a university course, but very important skills for after graduation. Student Selina who participated in this first cycle of the minor confirmed that this is different from the regular educational approach: ‘This minor and education is really different from the standard approach we have, like studying materials and learning, reading and making an exam and you get a grade, and you are done’.

It also gives students a chance to work on a societal urgency and make an impact during their studies. The classes during the minor also took place outside of campus at the Veldacademie in Rotterdam South. Ali, a student who also participated in the minor: ‘I thought it would be interesting to do something within the community of Rotterdam and make an impact locally. I think it is very useful to be in the area you are working on as you get a chance to interact with the neighborhood and get a feel for it. This type of education is definitely more engaging and a lot more interesting, because this is really a different type of learning’.

Future steps

We made a short movie about the Impact Space and its unique qualities, which you can watch in this article. The importance of an impact space and impact-driven education in general is clear. That is why Impact at the Core will continue with co-designing, strengthening, and implementing impact-driven education at all faculties. Do you want to join the conversation and community or know more about what we do? Visit our website or send an email to

More information


Impact at the Core is a central innovation program at Erasmus University Rotterdam that works on education within which students work together on solutions for societal problems. We do this by designing, strengthening and co-developing initiatives for so-called impact-driven education. By that, we mean education in which our positive contribution to society plays a central role.

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