Pilot: Transformative education learning program

Students at Education and Innovation Lab

In light of the bigger movement at Erasmus University, contributing to positive change and the transformation of society, we initiated an experimental learning journey for EUR teachers running from March to November 2023 with the support from the Community for Learning and Innovation.  

The intention of this process was twofold. We aimed to connect teachers around the central question of how to contribute to the transformation of society through transformative education, and to create a space for inner development needed to be able to bring the new into the old system. It was a process-oriented intervention within the organization, a steppingstone to catalyze transformation at our university together with EUR teachers. 


The intention of the pilot comes together in the following goals: 

  • Creating a space for inner development to be able to bring the new into the old system. 
  • Facilitating a joint exploration of what makes education transformative education, both through dialogue and through the activities experienced during the sessions. 
  • Discovering ways forward to facilitate and support transformative education. 

Creative process 

The process of designing the pilot throughout the year was a creative experimental process itself. We started with an intention which crystalized itself throughout the process, each session and its design was an iteration in which we fine-tuned the next steps of the process and intentions for the following sessions. This way a space for experimentation was created beyond a predefined outcome.  

What happened? 

The design of the experience resulted in 4 sessions scheduled throughout the year, unfolding around the main question ‘How can we contribute to the transformation of society, through transformative education?’. Each session was then designed around a focus question: 

  • Session 1 (29 March): What is transformation to me? 
  • Session 2 (7 June): What makes education transformative education? 
  • Session 3 (30 August): Who am I in the organization? 
  • Session 4 (14 November): How can we contribute to the movement towards the new? 

Part of the sessions was devoted to personal reflection activities to take leadership in bringing change, and part of the session was devoted to co-exploring transformative education and organizational ways forward. The activities included in the sessions were experiential and reflective in nature, inviting dialogue, embodied self-reflection and connection. The design was inspired by principles of designing a creative and transformative process by Ruimtehouders, Swets & Van der Voort (2021) who created a model referred to as the ‘waving process’ in which different theories (like Theory U, the creative rollercoaster, the hero’s journey) are integrated. The design and activities were also inspired by systemic work.  


Beginning 2023 an open call invited teachers to join this experimental pilot project. There were around 20 registrations, which resulted in 14 participants. Not all participants could join each session, which resulted in mixed groups of 3 to 11 participants for each of the different sessions. 

What were the learnings and outcomes? 

We believe that the results of this pilot ripple through in the organization by the inner development of the participants involved. By exploring how you meet yourself in the process of bringing change, discovering your serving place in the organization, understanding the patterns you developed through your life and daring to move beyond what you used to do, it becomes possible to bring something new. It allows people to take personal leadership and discover their potential to start being the change they want to invite in the system. Transformation on an organizational level goes hand in hand with the transformation of the people in the organization themselves. 

The following insights arose from the facilitator’s reflections on the experience:  

  • The acknowledged space to be, connect and self-reflect was appreciated by the participants. Participants shared that they felt supported by each other, and by the open space for exploring their experiences with bringing change. So a time and space to connect and reflect beyond the result-driven day to day work environment, was fruitful for change. 
  • The (embodied) reflection activities focused on increased awareness of participants’ own values, opinions, identity and patterns seemed to be successful to invite personal transformation. It helped participants to reflect on a deeper level and to become aware of the impact of their own inner development. It should be mentioned though that there was no evaluation done on the effects of the experience for the participants and their way of being and acting in the organization. 
  • Participants mentioned they did not always feel supported by the organization. Shifting the perspective to what you have to bring as part of the organization, and taking your serving place in the movement towards the new seemed to create space for ways forward. The challenge here is to be prepared to be uncomfortable in breaking (personal and organizational) patterns. 

 What’s next? 

This pilot experience resulted in the wish to create a low threshold space where teachers can bring in themselves and challenges with inviting something new in the system. A space to explore what it means to take personal leadership in bringing change and facilitate inner development, using approaches like embodied reflection, constellation and experiential activities. The possibilities for such a follow-up of this pilot are currently being explored.  

Sources of inspiration 

Hjort, M., Veenbaas, W., Broekhuizen, M., & Coerts, J. A. (2017). De tekens verstaan: over plek en ordening als bron in verbindend leiderschap. een uitgave van Phoenix Opleidingen. 

 Hüther, G. (2015). Etwas mehr Hirn, bitte: Eine Einladung zur Wiederentdeckung der Freude am eigenen Denken und der Lust am gemeinsamen Gestalten. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 

Scharmer, C. O. (2009). Theory U: Learning from the future as it emerges. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 

Swets, H. & Voort, R. van der (2021). Durf te doen wat onbekend is – Ruimte houden voor een nieuwe beweging. Woerden: Ruimtehouders. 

Veenbaas, W., Hjort, M., Broekhuizen, M., & Drikx, M. (2019). Passe-partout: vensters op leren. 

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes