The aim of the Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab (RASL) is to arrive at an equal crosspollination between arts and science in order to address and redefine societal issues. RASL is a collaboration between Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA) of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Codarts Rotterdam for joint, cross-disciplinary education and research.
The RASL minor ‘Re-imagining Tomorrow through Arts and Sciences’ is an innovative educational programme in which students redefine a societal issue of their own choosing in a transdisciplinary collaboration. These complex issues (such as climate change) simply cannot be defined within a single discipline, and this makes new forms of collective learning and working indispensable. The minor allows both students and teachers to develop the skills and insights needed for this.
Equality among disciplines
“RASL’s basic principle is collaboration that is based on equality among the various disciplines and institutes”, says Liesbeth Noordegraaf Eelens, Professor of Transformative Education at the Erasmus School of Philosophy and Professor of Transdisciplinary Education at Codarts Rotterdam. “In the minor, teams are made up of students from EUR, WdkA, and Codarts. Together, based on their interests, they choose an issue to work on.”
Re-imagining Tomorrow through Arts and Sciences
This minor, which started in September 2019, is a good example of how RASL intends to work now and in the future. During the minor, students learn to identify and recognise the limits of various types of knowledge. In the course of the learning process, students must relate to their own discipline, to other students and disciplines, to society, and learn how to critically reflect on their own position. The teachers’ team, made up of a proportional representation of teachers from the participating institutes, works in the same way as the students.
Exploring different worlds
Each year, the team creates the content of the education by holding ‘theme sessions’— weekly transdisciplinary compositions in which artistic and academic knowledge, guest teachers, and educational formats are brought to bear on a theme that provides new insights into rethinking both existing structures and transdisciplinary practices. Examples of these are Ecologies, Borders, and Radical Imagination. “The underlying goal of the minor is to initiate in students a process by which they explore the worlds they learn and work in,” says Roger Teeuwen, Education Manager Research of the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam. “How complexity and entanglement can be a source of connection and imagination.”
The Dutch Higher Education Premium
This new Dutch Higher Education Premium was established to endorse the high quality of education at universities and academies and to express appreciation for educational teams that perform at top level. Minister Van Engelshoven: “For 25 years now, we have the Spinoza Premium to honour top level researchers in the Netherlands. For teachers and teams of teachers such a premium was lacking and with it a way of expressing appreciation for their excellent work. This premium should change that.”
Premium for the development of new Bachelor and Master study programmes
The three nominated teams compete for premiums of 1.2 million, 800,000 or 500,000 euros, respectively. Which team of teachers wins which premium will be announced on 1 March 2021 at the annual Comenius Festival. RASL is currently working on a new Bachelor and Master programme, based on the notion of equality that is so characteristic of RASL.
More information about RASL and the minor ‘Re-imagining Tomorrow through Arts and Sciences’ can be found at rasl.nu, which also features a video about students’ experiences with the minor.