28 June 2017 • by Kimberley Brewster
Applying cross-learning in times of peace and conflict
Educational research conducted by Biggs and Kallenbach[i], among others, has found that linking theory with practical experiences increases learning outcomes and enhances the student motivation. International Public Management (IPM) lecturers were looking for a new way to teach students more about the various specialisms in their field while acquiring experience in them at the same time – a method known as cross-learning. This is how they came to develop the ‘Social Media for Peace’ project.
The project team – a class of 25 second-year IPM students – worked together on organising the conference: ‘Social Media for Peace’. Elissa Saltani, a student involved in the project: ‘Various teams for the project were set up, each with its own objective and focus. The Finance Team focused mainly on making decisions about money – things like sponsoring and distributing the money among the other teams. The Facilities Team was responsible for arranging the venue, the catering and all the other necessary items. The Marketing Team worked on promoting the conference. And then there was the Programme Team that collaborated with students of the Catholic University of Leuven in organising all the details of the programme for the event. Each team had a manager. In addition, the entire class was supervised by a general manager and her assistant. The teams were free to make their own decisions about things like the budget and guest speakers but the final decisions were up to the management team (the team managers, the general manager and her assistant).
The teams worked together on organising the ‘Social Media for Peace’ conference; their goal was to raise awareness among students, professionals and others of the effect that social media has on conflicts and peace. ‘Social media can have a positive impact – good examples being #Notinmyname and #blacklivesmatter, but they can also have negative impacts. This became clear during the conference by means of our lectures, workshops and panel debates,’ said Elissa.
As Elissa knows now, organising a conference requires a lot of knowledge and patience. ‘You learn how to deal with various situations and different kinds of people. But I really learned a lot from this project. Especially since I’m also participating in Urban Expedition in Life Quality, an honours programme set up at the start of this academic year by three lecturers in the Faculty of Health, Nutrition & Sport. The experience I acquired in this honours programme – doing things like organising events and working with a large group of students – made it easier for me to organise the conference. This also worked both ways since I could also apply what I learned in setting up the conference to the honours programme.
More information about the conference is available at: peacegoesviral.com
[i] Kallenbach, T. (2014). Leren (en) doceren in het hoger onderwijs. Boom Lemma Uitgevers.