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Inspiration box: Examples from VU Amsterdam

This module provides inspirations, models, and examples of a diversity of educational tools used in community service learning in different courses and projects within VU Amsterdam.

The inspiration box will showcase resources such as reflection tools, ethics guidelines, evaluation/student assessment models, etc. from different courses within VU Amsterdam.

Examples of CSL courses & course-specific tools from VU Amsterdam

  • Interdisciplinary community service learning (iCSL)

    The interdisciplinary community service learning (iCSL) module is designed for master students from diverse programs and disciplinary backgrounds to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration between students, and transdisciplinary linkage with societal partners to work on various thematic challenges together. Students in this course have worked in interdisciplinary groups that have tackled various societal issues in the following themes: Circular Economy, Digital Inclusion, Food, COVID-19. The iCSL module consists of two courses. The first course (iCSL1) focuses on identifying and defining the societal challenges, while the second course (iCSL2) engages students to address those challenges.

    Read more on the teaching/learning methods applied in the iCSL module to foster transdisciplinary collaboration built around a wider community topic or issue.

  • Analysis of Governmental Policy (AGP)

    Analysis of Governmental Policy (AGP): This 8-week MSc course is a compulsory course for first year Management Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Health and Life Sciences master students. The course aims to train students in providing policy advice for a complex social issue on the basis of interdisciplinary research. The course consists of a theoretical and a practical component. In the theoretical part, students get acquainted with theoretical concepts and models about policy. The practical part of the course forms the CSL assignment. Student teams write a policy advisory report for an external community partner. The projects focus on addressing complex social issues and concern topics such as loneliness, alcohol behavior, and eHealth inequality. At the start of the study, students interview a community partner to explicate the question at stake. Thereafter, students interview approximately 12 stakeholders with different views, these views are integrated in a interdisciplinary report. At the end of the course, students present their main results and recommendations to the community partner and write a policy advisory report.

  • Gezondheid in de stad (Health in the city)

    Gezondheid in de stad (Health in the city): In this course, students work together with a community partner in small subgroups for two months on a societal issue, for instance welfare, care, liveability and other themes related to public health. In consultation with the community partner, the project is defined, planned and executed, mostly including collection and analysis of data for a community-based needs assessment or research assignment. Results are reported back to the community, and where possible including concrete recommendations pertaining to public health. Feedback meetings are held twice a week at the VU with student and teachers, where skills training, peer review and reflection are central activities. In this video one of such projects with the Salvation Army is detailed.

  • Community-based health interventions

    Community-based health interventions: In this 4-week course as part of the minor Global Health, students work on a CSL project with the Salvation Army around a current need or problem. For 2021 for instance, the assignment was on implementing e-health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students speak with the community (partner) on multiple occasions in the first two weeks of the course to gather necessary information for the assignment, and go on field visits if possible. Students are expected to integrate the theoretical knowledge and case studies discussed throughout the course with new information obtained through conversations with the community partner. The assignment is undertaken in small teams of 4-5 students. The final output of the project is twofold: 1) a final product tailor-made for the Salvation Army including a 1-2 page summary (for instance videos, posters and brief reports), and 2) an oral presentation for the community partner, teachers and peers. Reflection takes place throughout the course and is facilitated during the various working groups to further enhance the learning.

Examples of research projects and project tools from VU Amsterdam

  • Stigma Assessment and Reduction of Impact (SARI) Project

    The 'SARI' project (Stigma Assessment and Reduction of Impact) was a research project of the Athena Institute of the VU Amsterdam and the University of Indonesia. This participatory research project was conducted in the Cirebon district in Indonesia. The aim of the project was to reduce stigma surrounding leprosy in the Indonesian (local) community and to reduce the impact of leprosy on both the people who have leprosy and their families. This participatory research project included multiple stakeholders from academia, government, civil society, and the community. It used an interactive learning and action approach that helped integrate knowledge from multiple stakeholders. 

    Read more on the SARI project.

  • Patient involvement in health research, policy & care practice

    Patients are gaining a more active role in health care systems. The move toward patient-centered medicine aims to provide the best health care for patients, taking their goals, preferences, and values into account. Further, the involvement of patients in agenda setting in health research policy is also gaining traction as it not only helps improve the quality and impact of these policies by making use of their experiential knowledge, but also provides them their moral right to be a part of research and policy processes that affect them. Dr. Carina Pittens is an Assistant Professor from Athena Institute, VU Amsterdam, who focuses on patient/user involvement in health research, policy and care-practice. She is involved in many research projects related to improving meaningful patient/user involvement and collaborations between health professionals of and between different (long term care) organizations. 

    Read more on patient involvement in health research, policy & care practice.

  • Other research projects from Athena Institute

    Athena coordinates, and is a partner in many different projects, which are all engaging a wide variety of stakeholders. 

    Read more on the different research projects at the Athena Institute.