In the new mission, creating a positive societal impact is central. The Design Lab ‘Fostering our societal impact identity’ is wholly focused on ways in which the university can best reach its goal of societal impact. One of the Lab members is student Luuk Teeuwen, currently in his sixth year of the double degree Economics and Law programme of the Erasmus School of Law.
Luuk is a true Rotterdammer. Born and raised here, he feels connected to the city and to Erasmus University. ‘Attending the double degree Economics and Law programme has taught me a lot about the university,’ Luuk explains, ‘because you can see both faculties from within, and can compare what both faculties are doing - right and wrong - in the area of societal impact.’
Besides his studies Luuk has been an active member of the study association In Duplo: ‘That’s where you really notice that when you actively involve students you can create a lot of impact. For example they organise pro bono consulting projects for foundations and companies in Rotterdam, and that is a win-win situation: students learn hands-on, and the companies benefit as well.’ It was through the experience Luuk has gained from his degree and study association that he decided to participate in Strategy 2024: ‘I really want to encourage the involvement of students in society, and I have seen the ways that the university can support and impact society.’
Impact of EUR
Erasmus University is already involved in society in a variety of ways. ‘Erasmus MC has a lot of impact on Rotterdam and the Netherlands, and the university also sets up projects on its own: like language buddies for Dutch language course members and Lead Your Future [a movement focused on increasing opportunities for a new generation of women]. Besides projects like these, impact is created with student-generated projects and ideas like a couple of sustainability initiatives on campus,’ he explains.
In his Design Lab Luuk focuses largely on the possibilities for making impact play a substantial role in the curriculum. ‘Some courses in Economics, for example, are quite abstract, but there is always the possibility of finding a practical link to the acquired knowledge. First of all students must be aware of current societal challenges. The next step is to offer cases from the real world and create awareness of how economists can contribute to solving these practical problems.’ Luuk stresses the importance of emphasising impact in the curriculum. ‘Every course should focus on practical relevance to current society and offer tools that make contribution to society.’
A mission of creating impact is a good fit for Erasmus University, claims Luuk. ‘The Rotterdam mentality of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work is reflected in the students of Erasmus.’ And the students really want to make a contribution.. ‘The entrepreneurial spirit that Erasmus University is known for has a positive use in society.’ Thus the choice to involve students in Strategy 2024 is the right choice: ‘The University has done absolutely the right thing in giving students the possibility to apply to the Strategic Design Labs,’ says Luuk. ‘The discussion sometimes gets very scientific in these labs. But as a student you can contribute by making the discussion a little more concrete, placing the role of students central, and thinking about how we can bring existing initiatives together and how the university can support these initiatives and the students in the best way possible.’