Indonesia has recently gained 25 Building with Nature university lecturers. In February Heleen Vreugdenhil, working at TU Delft and Deltares, together with colleagues Amrit Cado van der Lelij and Bouke Ottow from Deltares, trained a group of university lecturers to set up and teach a Building with Nature curriculum at ten different universities in Indonesia. The training took place as part of a larger project to restore mangrove habitat. Wetlands International and EcoShape initiated the training funded by the German and Dutch governments.
Training students is essential in the upscaling of Building with Nature (BwN). Many participants had a background in civil engineering, but there were also ecologists and experts in aquaculture and planning.
Heleen Vreugdenhil: “This diversity is very common in BwN education. We set up the training together with Jill Slinger from TU Delft to guarantee a good didactic quality. We selected videos and assignment material from the Massive Open Online Course Engineering: Building with Nature that were discussed during the training.”
BwN principles and didactic skills
Heleen: u201cThe four course days consisted of a substantive part and a part about didactics. Theory and practice alternated. I explained the Building with Nature MOOC myself. An important and educational part was the case study on Demak, where the EcoShape pilot for mangrove restoration is also running. The students had to make and evaluate a BwN design for Demak themselves: which BwN principles have you applied and what considerations have you made? Amrit took care of the substantive BwN part, especially the ecological perspective. Bouke took care of the didactic part: how do you transfer the knowledge? As a final assignment, the students designed a curriculum that they can use at their university. u201d
“What I personally really liked about the course: we taught in a workshop setting, among other things. The idea of applying co-design came from Jill Slinger and has a thorough scientific basis”, says Heleen. “The students remember it better this way, they are also busy with their hands. You can see in the photos that it is very lively. It became more and more creative. The solutions of the 4 groups for the area were very different and very different from the actual solution being tested in the pilot. It provided quite different perspectives. A group placed the semi-permeable dams perpendicular to the coast. Another group chose to gradually expand the coast. Yet another group made a link with aquaculture.”
An important learning moment during the course was about the different perspectives that exist on nature, which is also the part the MOOC starts with. This was developed by Elisabeth Ruijgrok from Witteveen+Bos. Heleen continues: “The students enjoyed getting to know their own perspective and hearing that other people look at nature differently. At the same time, the differences can be bridged when you talk to each other and you can come up with creative solutions. ”
“Based on the substantive and didactic lessons, the students made a design for a subject that they could include in their curriculum, integrating the MOOC into the lectures. This way they made a kickstart, as it were, to actually give the course at their university. The students were enthusiastic and we were able to help them with their university’s need to teach Building with Nature.”
Heleen: “I am working with Jill Slinger on the follow-up to the MOOC, which focuses more on the social context of BwN. It will start on March 31 this year. This course is about identifying stakeholders, their interests, and building coalitions in Building with Nature. We also paid attention to this in our course in Indonesia, but the participants found the stakeholder analysis and the naming of interdependencies still a bit difficult. It remains a challenge to dare to put aside existing designs or your own “brilliant” idea and to make something together. The need to embed such exercises in a well thought-out educational structure was emphasized once again. I am convinced that educational materials such as MOOCs contribute to BwN quality and skills worldwide.”
Sequel to successful Building with Nature MOOC
The successful Engineering: Building with Nature MOOC is running for the fourth time this year. A total of 18,754 students from more than 168 countries have already registered, including this fourth year. Since this year, the MOOC has been expanded with case material from Indonesia. The follow-up to this MOOC, Beyond Engineering: Building with Nature, which focuses more on Social Design Principles using international examples, will start on 31 March.