Academic staff involved in a cross-faculty educational programme have been invited to an afternoon workshop at Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade in May in order to improve their leadership and mentoring skills by observing zoo animals. The learning goals include those specified in the next paragraph.
Rumour has it that following the successful staff workshop, the Executive Board will spend an entire weekend at the zoo. Their learning goals include observing without prejudice; recognising group dynamics, seeing how environment affects behaviour, and reflecting on their own behaviour in groups. It is not yet known which animals the Executive Board will be observing, nor whether they will all observe the same animals. Last, I heard the Executive Board was trying to decide which species most resembles those working at FASoS.
Plans for a reciprocal visit by the animals to the university are under discussion. An Inter-Species Working Group has been established to prepare the programme for the animals. The primates want to attend a meeting of the Board of Deans in order to learn more about alpha male behaviour (also called ‘leadership’). The big cats are more interested in developing their skills for tracking humans in urban environments. I don’t even want to imagine what objectives the snakes have. Until the Inter-Species Working Group has agreed the learning goals, the animals will certainly not be allowed to join any PBL sessions.
A Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed by the President of the University and the Lion King. The University’s Ethics Committee has insisted on two conditions so that no harm comes to any participants. First, extra support will be given to female participants – of all species – to prevent the development of any kind of Bokito effect. Second, the carnivorous animals will not eat members of the university; and the humans working at the university will not hunt the zoo animals nor harm them in any way. On behalf of the zoo animals, the Lion King has pointed out that humans have already inflicted much harm on many species, and they want further reassurance that human members of the university can be trusted.
Sally Wyatt, Professor Digital Cultures at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences