Isabelle Reymen, professor Design of Innovation Ecosystems, gives inaugural lecture on educational reform and the university of the future

October 2, 2019
photo: Rob Stork

In order to better match the demands of the labour market and contribute to the big challenges in the world, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has started an educational reform that bridges the gap between university and society. The initiative, called TU/e innovation Space, is unique in the world and celebrates its first anniversary. In TU/e innovation Space, co-founded by professor Isabelle Reymen (Design of Innovation Ecosystems), students not only attend classes but also venture outside and build prototypes to solve societal challenges. In the past academic year more than 1700 students from 24 different courses worked on real-life challenges provided by by companies, governments, artists and researchers. In her inaugural lecture on 4 October professor Reymen will highlight her vision on the new role of the university.

Societal challenges

According to Reymen university education no longer fits the needs of today’s students. “Many students want to create impact and do something useful for society. At the same time we’re dealing with huge societal challenges that require smart solutions. Being sources of knowledge and talent, universities can play a key role in solving these challenges. But they have to dare to change.”

Challenge-Based Learning

TU/e innovation Space is Reymen’s way to tackle this problem. In TU/e innovation Space, students from different disciplines work together on societal challenges; from issues in health care to sustainable energy. This educational reform is called Challenge-Based Learning and almost entirely takes place outside the classroom. Reymen: “Students go outside to talk to stakeholders and analyse the problem. Then they start working on hands-on solutions and making the first prototypes.” In Dutch news show 'Goedemorgen Nederland' (starts at 12.30) the Dutch Minister of Finance Eric Wiebes called TU/e innovation Space a prime example of how the Dutch educational system could reach top international levels.

Start-ups & student teams

TU/e innovation Space has already helped several student based start-ups to grow and leave the safe envrionment of the university. For example, student start-up Spike is working on safe and sustainable electric mobility, such as a fully electric motorbike. Student-team CASA is building affordable and sustainable housing for the rental market.

New reality

In her inaugural lecture Isabelle Reymen will talk about her research on the new, entrepreneurial role of universities as partners in collaborations with the government and the private sector. Aside from the students, university teachers will also have to adapt to the new reality, Reymen says. “The emphasis for teachers will be more on coaching instead of transferring knowledge.”

Hilde de Laat
(Science Information Officer)