Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Seven thesis awards, an education award, three lectures, a musical intermezzo and a demonstration by animal activists outside the entrance to the St. Janskerk. The programme for the celebration of the 34th anniversary of Maastricht University last Thursday was a full one. Rector Gerard Mols announced an innovation of the problem-based learning system.
“The theme of the new year will be the development of a ‘Leading in Learning’ master plan,” said rector Mols in his opening speech. Numerous questions are waiting for an answer: is the Maastricht problem-based learning system still up to date, do we teach what we preach, what knowledge and skills do graduates need in this increasingly globalised society, and last but not least, “to what extent can and should internationalisation and globalisation be the triggers for the innovation of problem-based education.” Future generations, according to the rector, will live in a global society and economy. They will encounter global problems and questions. To find answers, they need broad knowledge, the skills to understand and appreciate different cultures, the willingness to learn from others and the ability to take sound decisions in uncertain situations.
The problem-based learning system, which produces students who have learned to solve problems, is eminently suited as a system that prepares individuals for their role in such a global society, according to Mols. However, adaptations are necessary. “If we agree that, as a university, we need to produce internationally oriented, globally aware citizens, capable of analysing social problems and of looking for sensible solutions, then we must not only review the contents of our programmes, but also our teaching methodology.” The programmes could become more interdisciplinary, and the PBL system could make more use of e-learning, for example. All of which should take place in international tutorial groups, which bring together individuals of various cultures, nationalities, and religious or political backgrounds.
These innovations can only succeed if investments are made in staff training and in creating a truly international education community. Another objective that the UM wishes to achieve this year, is to create a network of universities with a reputation for educational innovation. “Our university will take the initiative to bring these forerunners of university innovators together, through visiting professors, taking up key positions in educational research and, if necessary, by starting a magazine.”
Mols concluded by saying that innovation is not an easy task, and that the UM wants to make every effort to stimulate creativity. Bureaucracy will be restricted as much as possible, creativity will be rewarded, he promised.