Student-led education for sustainable development // Examples of active student participation at UU
December 19, 2019
CEMUS is primarily student-led university centre, that was founded in 1992 by students and professors. At CEMUS, students are hired as course coordinators to plan and run university courses for credit. Working as a course coordinator usually entails planning a course for 3 months, And then running the course for 6 months, together with a colleague. During the first three months, you get to know the colleague you will be working with and get acquainted with all the course materials and topics We look at new topics or themes that perhaps were missing from the course before that we deem relevant in relation to the course goals. We also have meetings with other colleagues, where all the course coordinators come together We have about ten courses running each semester, and all the coordinators meet at regular intervals during the planning process to learn from each other and share ideas providing everything that you might need, that you don’t have already. In addition to the support of co-workers and the CEMUS core team, each course has a work group that supports the development of the course, which educational coordinator, Jakob Grandin, says helps to ensure the quality of the education. I think a key thing about this student-led process is that students are not just unconditionally hired as course coordinators to run a course. The whole educational model builds on collaboration between, in part, the students we hire as coordinators, who really do have a big responsibility for the creative, pedagogical and, in part, the theoretical development of the course but they do that in collaboration with a work group, which is made up of researchers and sometimes practitioners. The work group meets two or three times during the planning process and helps ensure the academic quality, and contributes to the examination, and are part of a creative process. So, what does a typical CEMUS course look like? The basic structure of the course is that we have scheduled guest lecturers, seminars and workshops Beyond that, we also have interesting sessions where we work with various pedagogical tools, for example, that students host or lead a session, or that the students invite a guest they think is interesting in relation to the theme of the course As a couse coordinator you don’t really take on the role of a teacher You act more as a facilitator and a guide through the course We as course coordinators don’t lecture or teach, but we follow the students through the course We are perhaps able to see the students’ perspective more easily than a regular teacher, since we are students at the same time as we work with the courses This makes it easier for us to relate to how the students experience the course Jakob says active student participation is particularly important in questions of sustainable development because there are few clear cut answers. We really can’t have a pedagogical process where we provide the answers, because we don’t have the answers to these questions. Instead, we have to have a process where the students are invited to co-create based on the building blocks that we can provide them with. We can provide lectures and a variety of literature But in the end it’s often up to the students to put these pieces together to through workshops and seminars create a new understanding, a new whole from these parts And that’s maybe when we go from seeing students merely as consumers of pre-packaged knowledge to seeing them as producers of knowledge, too. Students create both new knowledge and projects and so on in the course of the education. It was only when I started working with courses that I realised what kind of responsibility you have as a student I gained much greater respect for the courses at the university and a much deeper understanding of what learning entails and the responsibility I have for my own learning as a student I can’t just take a course and expect it to provide me with knowledge, actually, I play an active part in creating the knowledge that both my peers and I take from the course.