Arjen Wals is the son of two environmental educators. They laid his foundation for his current mission: to engage citizens meaningfully in sustainable challenges through empowerment, an ethic of care and the capacity to disrupt, sustain and transform. He is professor of transformative learning for social-ecological sustainability in Wageningen University and Research.
Arjen is frustrated by the neo-liberal, technicist and anti-intellectualist mindsets that push us all towards extinction. He deeply feels the need to transition towards more inclusive, holistic and caring values, whereby he considers education critical in facilitating such a transition .
Through his writings, blogs, tweets, teaching, passion, students, ... he hopes to inspire and 'teach' alternative ways of being in the world that are off the grid of maladaptive globalization.
Thomas Remeriewas inspired by Arjen and his perspective on education for sustainable development. He is a biologist and finished his PhD in Marine Biology at Ghent University. In 2009 he started as a lecturer at Artevelde University College in the Bachelor of preschool education. He’s teaching in natural sciences education & global citizenship education.
He wants to challenge students to think about their own role in society as an adult, but also as a future preschool teacher. The question how our students can become active global citizens, ready for the challenges of tomorrow plays a central role in his teaching courses.
Daniella Tilburyheld University research and leadership positions in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Gibraltar. She assessed sustainability initiatives in over 45 countries. She was inspired by work undertaken at Deakin University in Australia.
She believes deeply that education (and higher education) are negatively influencing our thinking and shaping mindsets. “We need to learn to change ourselves and education systems; understand the resistance to change; and open our minds to alternatives. We need to understand that change is a snake & ladders game - learning to avoid slippery snakes & building ladders to accelerate change.”
By mapping stakeholder interests; understanding the levers for change but most importantly co-creating visions for change, she makes progress.
Joke Denekensis the chairman of the commission of Ecocampus, a team of leaders and experts that are trying to make a change within the higher education in Flanders. She was general practitioner for 36 years, head of the department of General Practice at the University of Antwerp for 22 years, responsible for education and research, and 10 years vice rector for education at the University of Antwerp.
In her opinion learning processes are still too informative, not formative enough and only sometimes transformative. “A paradigm shift in the way we teach our students is necessary to prepare students in higher education to become change agents in future society.”
As vice rector of education at the University of Antwerp she had the opportunity together with many other motivated teachers and students, to steer the educational system into a more student - centered way, to activate students to take more responsibility for their own learning processes.
We let them talk.
Jo De Wachter is interested in the links between science, technology and society. He is eager to study new opportunities and the cross-over potential that high-tech and creative players can generate. He currently works on 'smart & sustainable cities' and 'the future of healthcare'.
What bothered him was the lack of autonomy-supportive learning environments - involving real tools, real choice, real trust. So, together with colleagues of RVO Society, KU Leuven Campus GroupT and imec, they set up several open-ended design and engineering projects inviting students and companies to participate. One of the projects was the creation of a students' run cooperative company, CORE, focusing on rational energy use.
He became fully aware of the diversity of innovation tracks and sustainable development projects. Much more is possible when people with different backgrounds cooperate. He believes a lot of the solutions to our current challenges will be created/invented by cooperative co-design efforts, using technology building blocks which already exist today.
As an engineer student, Yolan Gielenparticipated in an interesting postgraduate named "innovating entrepreneurship for engineers". In this postgraduate he worked for 2 years in the student cooperative CORE. Now he organizes bootcamps circular economy for Circular Flanders.
He doesn't know how it started, but he just wants to create a world with more equity. He think it's very unfair that it matters so much where you are born to how your life will be. That's why he loves projects like Khan Academy, that offers open source education to everyone.
He believes he makes the difference by putting things into motion. He can only do this because he knows his strengths and weaknesses. He dreams of setting up a cooperative business school.
We let them talk.
Ilse Van Den Bercktis a researcher at UCLL in Leuven who focuses on wicked business models, wicked organising and underlying legal vehicles, such as cooperatives.
Educated in Applied Economics, she soon discovered the world’s challenges are more complex and unpredictable than any textbook has answers for. Ilse has the ‘guts’ to live from her heart. She found the courage and strength to contribute to a more healthy, sustainable world. She was confronted with many challenges, such as leaving the ‘golden’ cage’ of a very comfortable job. Staying true to what she believes in had a great impact on her professional life.
Claudia Schmittis Managing Director and Scientific Coordinator of the Center for a Sustainable University in Hamburg. She focusses on organisational development and in her methods she integrates playfulness, psychodrama etc. She encourages people to relate to all senses and to challenge themselves every day. Intuition is a key word!
She’s convinced that techniques such as shared learning, co-creation and serious play are much more appropriate to address issues of sustainable development than more conventional teaching techniques.
We let them talk.
One evening is all it took to put Arnoud Raskin’s world upside down. When he went to a lecture about street children about 20 years ago, he did not expect it to have such a great impact on his future ambitions. He started developing mobile schools for street children and became a social entrepreneur.
Arnoud is convinced that an inner drive is the key to success when designing and developing new tools. If you want to contribute to social justice, you shouldn’t just do what others tell you to do: you need to listen to your heart, observe and learn. This is why he launched StreetwiZe, with which he targets at executives and employees. StreetwiZe teaches business people to learn from the mindset of street children. Arnoud shows these kids are not just vulnerable victims, always in need for help, but experts in dealing with daily crises and constant change. We need them more, than they need us …
Tom Kuppensis assistant professor in teaching methodology of economics at the Centre for Environmental Sciences of Hasselt University. He thinks business economics education devotes too much time to short term profit maximization, whereas the contribution of businesses to complex societal challenges remains underexposed. He wants to prepare economics students and future teachers to integrate sustainability in their professional behaviour, in business and in the classroom.
Every individual has different learning strategies, so he uses the theory of planned behaviour to differentiate his teaching approach. Some people need to be moved emotionally (attitude), others need to be convinced that employers highly value sustainability (subjective norm) and some doubt whether their efforts will have an impact (perceived behavioral control) in order to convince them to exhibit sustainable professional behavior. Luckily, this is the way his students remember his lectures.
We let them talk.
Hard to describe Jaroslav Andělin a few lines. He has been an artist, photographer, curator, consultant, museum director and educator. He’s interested in exploring various aspects of democracy, especially education and sustainability as its key issues.
He witnessed the events of September 11, 2001 in New York and has been bothered and frustrated by the direction the world has been going since. He realized that he needs to engage in major issues, which leads him to organize exhibitions and discussions. In 2016, he opened the exhibition ‘Back to the Sandbox: Art and Radical Pedagogy’, examining democracy, creativity and transdisciplinarity with the aim of introducing new perspectives of learning and creativity.
Irene Hermansis an organisational psychologist who’s always been interested in human behaviour and the triggers that lead to behavioural change. In UC Leuven-Limburg she supports the transition to a sustainable higher education. She prefers a bottom up approach and connects the efforts of UCLL with the network of The Shift.
Irene is interested in global citizenship and connecting people with one common goal: living well within the limits of our planet. How to do good, taking care of the here and now and the there and later?
She also engages in AFS, the international exchange organization for students, as she’s convinced that the more you learn about the world, the more you’ll try to be the changemaker in your own life.