Utrecht University: Team Mixed Classroom wins one of three Hogeronderwijspremies for universities

The Mixed Classroom team of Utrecht University wins one of the three Dutch Hogeronderwijspremies external linkfor universities, issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The team from the Urban Futures Studio (UFS) has a chance of winning 1.2 million, 800,000 or 500,000 euros as a result of the nomination. Which team wins which prize will be announced by Minister van Engelshoven (OCW) on 1 March 2021.

This new education prize is created by the ministry to endorse the high quality of education at universities and colleges of higher education. It also serves as a great token of appreciation for teams of lecturers who deliver top performances and encourages lecturers to keep innovating in education and sharing knowledge.

Van Engelshoven: “For 25 years now, we have been awarding the Spinoza Prize in the Netherlands, which we use to promote top researchers. However, there has been no such prize for lecturers or teams of lecturers, and thus no form of appreciation for their outstanding work. The Hogeronderwijspremie should change that. The presentation of the prize had already been planned, but it could not have come at a more appropriate time. With the pandemic and digital education, many people inside and outside educational institutions are seeing how important innovative teaching teams are.”

‘Extremely happy’
Jesse Hoffman, together with his colleagues Peter Pelzer and Maarten Hajer, is the initiator of the Mixed Classroom and reacts to the news: “We are extremely happy! It is very important to us that the concept is appreciated in such a broad context. Especially as a typical Utrecht education initiative: working to create a better world and Continuing Education (education aimed at professionals). With the prize, we want to elevate the Mixed Classroom and future education. This way, we will continue to work on educational innovation at the crossroads of science and society.”

By awarding the prize to three different teams of lecturers from academic and higher professional education instead of choosing one winner or letting individual lecturers win, the minister also wants to appreciate and stimulate cooperation and innovation in education. The prize also sends the message that you can make a career in higher education not only as a researcher, but also as a teacher.

Bridging the outside world
The Mixed Classroom is the first product of the search for “the new classroom” that bridges the outside world. The project is an initiative of the Urban Futures Studio (UFS) in collaboration with the departments of Social Geography and Urban Planning and Sustainable Development (Copernicus Institute) of the Faculty of Geosciences.

This new concept is an important innovation within Continuing Education – education aimed at professionals. In addition, it is the cornerstone of new Futuring education at UU: education aimed at imagining the future. “Futuring” is the active process of “making the future”.