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VU Dream Teams

In a Dream Team, you’ll make a social impact while developing your personal and professional skills. For example, you’ll help prevent major wildfires, combat food waste on campus, or improve the biological age of employees and students. Register before 22 June!

In a Dream Team, you’ll use each other’s knowledge and skills to take on a social challenge for a year. You’ll be part of a team consisting of 8-14 Bachelor’s and Master’s students from various study programmes, with a wide range of skills. That means you’ll complement each other, strengthen each other, push your boundaries and grow not only academically, but also on a personal and social level. In short: you’ll develop A Broader Mind.

The Dream Teams have been active since 2021-2022 and have already led to several great initiatives and successes. And now you, too, have the opportunity to work on ideas and solutions to challenging social issues in the upcoming academic year. These are as follows:

Burning Lowlands Dream Team
Across the globe, we’re seeing more and more large-scale wildfires. Due to climate change, we expect such fires to become increasingly common in the Netherlands as well. But our country is so densely populated and highly developed that we’re neither equipped nor prepared for it. Together, we need to think about how to prevent these devastating fires. And that’s complex, because there are many interests at stake. How can we protect nature, farm agriculture, ensure recreation and increase biodiversity while at the same time guaranteeing our safety against destructive fires? As part of this Dream Team, you’ll look for ideas and solutions that a wide range of stakeholders can get on board with. Join Burning Lowlands!

VU ProFit! Dream Team
We all know that exercising more, reducing stress, eating healthier and getting enough sleep is good for our health. Yet for many of us it’s tough to actually do this, let alone to sustain it. In this Dream Team, you’ll challenge VU Amsterdam employees and fellow students to measure and improve their biological age. How old are you really? And how can we get healthier? You’ll develop interventions and put together a series of measuring tools. Because to measure is to know. By doing so, you’ll investigate what works and what doesn’t when it comes to reducing the biological age, and you’ll help to improve the physical and mental health of both students and staff. Take action and make the campus fit!

Reduce Food Waste Dream Team
All over the world, we’re throwing away food while part of the population goes hungry. It’s also bad for the environment because the food has already been “produced”. In the Netherlands, too, we waste around 33 kilograms of food and 65 litres of drinks per person every year. We should be more sustainable, including on the university campus! In this Dream Team, you’ll investigate how to make students and employees more aware of food waste and encourage them to make better choices. For example, how can caterers better match supply and demand at VU Amsterdam? How can we ensure that we actually eat and drink all the food we’ve ordered, taken away or brought from home? And how can we give any leftovers a good home? How much do you think we can reduce food waste?

PULSE Racing Dream Team
PULSE Racing is dedicated to improving the mobility and vitality of individuals with spinal cord injuries (the athletes) through the use of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). With FES, muscles contract as pulses are sent through the skin to the nerves. In this way, PULSE Racing enables athletes with spinal cord injuries to cycle again. PULSE Racing participates in national and international competitions and has even won gold at the Cybathlon, a competition where talented para-athletes compete for the gold medal using advanced robotics. PULSE Racing combines sports, rehabilitation, and technology, aiming to increase awareness of FES and allow even more athletes to experience the possibilities and benefits of FES.

Why take part?

  • You’ll develop skills that contribute to your personal and professional growth.
  • You’ll work on issues involving stakeholders with different perspectives and interests – a useful experience that you can apply in many situations in practice.
  • Together, you’ll look for interesting partners, inside or outside VU Amsterdam. You’ll learn to network, maintain relationships with stakeholders and pitch creative ideas in a professional context.
  • Your team will be assisted by researchers (ambassadors) who share their knowledge, skills and professional networks.
  • You’ll receive 6 extracurricular ECTS if you meet certain conditions. In some cases, you can earn 6 intracurricular ECTS. See the FAQs at the bottom of this page.
  • Your team will be supervised by the Demonstrator Lab, where you’ll meet the other Dream Teams and can ask practical questions. You’ll also receive a training programme in which you’ll learn to draw up objectives and priorities, to make and meet collaboration agreements, and to make adjustments based on progress and results.

Ready to join? Register no later than 22 June!
Interested? Sign up for one of the teams by June 22, 2023, using this registration link. Selection interviews will take place during the first week of July.

Testimonials of other students

“I thought it was a great experience! You learn to work together and give and receive constructive criticism. You’re part of an interesting network and are well supervised by the Demonstrator Lab and two professors. The result? Together with Jellinek and 3D, we organised an information session on drugs and substances. We also came up with a plan to make the stairwell in the Main Building more attractive, so that students and employees take the stairs more often. So ProFit!”

Anouk Raanhuis
Second-year Bachelor’s student of Health Sciences – chair of the ProFit! Dream Team 2022-2023

“I discovered that if you really go for something together, you can achieve a lot. Believing that creates a lot of energy and confidence among your teammates and yourself. I now have the courage to delegate to people instead of thinking ‘I'll do it myself’. Ambassadors, your team made up of students from all kinds of programmes and all different years: everyone helps to share knowledge and experiences, and I learned a lot from that. It also made me more flexible. I now think in terms of solutions instead of problems.”

Kristel den Engelsman
Fourth-year student of Human Movement Sciences – deputy manager PULSE Racing Dream Team

Birgit Kaman MSc Human Movement Sciences and former Dream Team

Birgit Kaman MSc Human Movement Sciences and former Dream Team

“Working within the PULSE Dream Team is a very valuable experience. The translation of theory into practice is educational and also a lot of fun. I’m using my scientific knowledge in a different way, but I’m also learning how to manage and organize a company. PULSE has given me insight into what is possible with my education. I have also learned how important working in a multidisciplinary team can be.”

Extra information about Dream Teams

  • Who supervises the Dream Teams? (ambassadors)

    Burning Lowlands Dream Team
    This team is linked to the Connected World profile theme.

    Niels van Manen
    Niels is a researcher at the Department of Spatial Economics of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and at SPINLab, the Spatial Information Laboratory. This laboratory serves as the center for research and education in the field of Geo-information Science at the VU. He teaches at the Amsterdam University College and the VU Learn! Academy. His research mainly focuses on geographic information systems in the context of historical research, mapping urban risks, and Geodesign for urban heritage planning.

    VU ProFit! Dream Team
    This team is linked to the Human Health & Life Sciences profile theme.

    Hein Daanen
    Hein is a human movement scientist and professor in Exercise Physiology at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences. His research focuses on human adaptations to heat and cold. Over recent years, he’s been involved in the management of three Dream Teams at TU Delft and VU Amsterdam: the Human Power Team (fastest cyclist), Wasub (fastest underwater “bicycle”) and PULSE Racing (fastest cyclist using muscle electrostimulation in athletes with spinal cord injuries).

    Hanneke Wijnhoven Hanneke is a health scientist, epidemiologist and associate professor at the Department of Health Sciences. Her research focuses on the impact of a healthy lifestyle (nutrition, healthy weight and physical activity in particular) and on healthy ageing. Within this, she studies the role of diversity, such as the differences between men and women. Her ambition is to use her research to contribute to improving people’s well-being. She enjoys working with others who pursue the same goal. Together with the motivated and talented students in the VU ProFit! Dream Team and ambassador Hein Daanen, she enjoys the challenge of improving the lifestyle of university staff and students.

    Reduce Food Waste Dream Team
    This team is linked to the Science for Sustainability profile theme.

    Ingeborg Brouwer
    Ingeborg is a nutrition scientist and professor of Nutrition for Healthy Living at the Department of Health Sciences. Her research focuses on the effects of food on health and sustainability. She looks at how different foods and diets impact health and well-being outcomes, and how much pressure they put on the environment – for example, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions or land use. Ingeborg is looking forward to working with the Dream Team students to make the Netherlands a better place.

    Margreet Olthof
    Margreet works at the Department of Health Sciences, is a nutritional scientist and director of the Master’s programme in Health Sciences. She conducts research in the field of nutrition and human health, including nutrition in specific phases of life (young and old), the health effects of what we eat and drink (such as coffee), and sustainable, healthy food for people and planet. She’s happy to take up the challenge with the Dream Team of making concrete, creative plans that will help people in the Netherlands make healthier and more sustainable food choices, as part of the grand “planet-friendly food” mission.

    PULSE Racing Dream Team
    This team is linked to the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

    Thomas Janssen
    Thomas is professor of Rehabilitation Research at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at VU, where he teaches courses in exercise physiology and rehabilitation. He also leads research in the field of spinal cord injury and adapted sports in rehabilitation centre Reade and is academically (co-)responsible for the Centre for Adapted Sports Amsterdam, part of the Amsterdam Institute of Sport Science. Cycling as fast as possible with the aid of electrostimulation, the goal of this Dream Team, is not only interesting on a academic level, the knowledge gained can also mean a lot for the health and fitness of people with spinal cord injury.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Why does taking part offer a unique opportunity?

    You’ll operate in a self-managing, interdisciplinary team in which you’ll tackle a specific social issue and work towards a concrete end result. This includes, for example, writing a business plan, setting up or maintaining a website, attracting sponsors and making contact with companies and institutions. You’ll be supervised by VU ambassadors and the Demonstrator Lab, and you’ll receive an integrated training programme. This allows you to put your (theoretical) knowledge into practice, working with students from various disciplines.

    How does the recruitment and selection process work?
    Register for one of the Dream Teams no later than Thursday 22 June 2023 via this sign up link. Include a cover letter or video message in which you make it clear why you want to participate in a particular Dream Team and what you think you can contribute. Don’t forget to include your personal details, current study programme and year, and your preferred Dream Team. The selection interviews will take place in the first week of July. And if you’re selected? Then you and your Dream Team will get to work from September 2023!

    Do the Dream Teams receive study credits?  

    You’re eligible for 6 extracurricular ECTS if you write a report about your Dream Team. The report must contain a number of elements, which you can ask the ambassador or a member of the supervisory team about in advance.

    In some cases, it’s possible to earn 6 intracurricular ECTS because the credits can be integrated into an existing programme component – for example, a practical internship or elective. It’s up to the programme whether or not to offer this.

    How much time does it take to participate?
    You’ll spend an average of 6-10 hours a week on Dream Team activities. In consultation with the team, you’re free to spend more or less time on the assignment, but it’s not the intention that you stop in the meantime.

    What are the selection criteria? Do I need good grades?

    Selection is primarily based on your motivation. Knowledge and expertise relating to the topic of the Dream Team are also considered. Furthermore, we aim to bring students from different study programmes together in a team. Do you have contagious enthusiasm and an enterprising attitude? If so, this could work to your advantage! Grades and study progress may also be taken into account in the selection process (as a secondary factor).

    What’s the duration of a Dream Team?
    A Dream Team is active for one academic year. In September, we ask for a bit of extra time to orient the new team and to give the programme a good start.

    Does a Dream Team have funding at their disposal?
    Yes, every Dream Team receives seed capital. We also expect you to look for sponsors and financiers yourself, which is part of the learning process.

    Does it matter which study programme I’m doing? 
    No, whichever study programme you’re following, you can make a meaningful contribution from any discipline.

    What’s the working language of the team?
    Dutch or English – you decide among yourselves.

    Where do the Dream Teams carry out their activities?
    The Dream Teams have their own shared space in the W&N building.

    Where can I go with further questions?  

    Email your questions to

  • Contact

    Dream Team related questions
    Linda van de Burgwal

More information about VU Profile themes