September 30, 2020
How can higher education and university teaching be improved? This is the focus of the joint initiative "B3 – Bildung Beyond Boundaries" of the Jacobs Foundation and the Jacobs University. The Jacobs Foundation is now funding six projects led by scholars at Jacobs University in Bremen, who are committed to this goal – with a total of 750,000 euros.
B3 – Bildung Beyond Boundaries is like a laboratory for evidence-based innovation in higher education and university teaching. "We have invited scientists to develop new ideas for improving higher education and university teaching. We have challenged them to implement these ideas on Jacobs University’s campus and also to evaluate them experimentally," says Pablo Michael Zerm, co-initiator and member of the international university's Management Board.
The special concept has proven its worth. The Jacobs Foundation and Jacobs University launched the initiative in 2018. An international challenge followed. The cooperation of international and interdisciplinary teams was aimed to be promoted, with the emphasis on evidence-based educational research. In this first project phase, the Jacobs Foundation had already funded three projects with 650,000 euros.
In 2020, the second ideas challenge followed. Six projects were able to convince. Projects from various scientific disciplines are supported. Dr. Christoph Lattemann, Professor of Business Administration and Information Management, is researching solutions for e-learning that are designed to promote creativity. Dr. Sebastian Springer, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, wants to optimize laboratory courses – by incorporating digital teaching aids and new pedagogical approaches. Dr. Julia Timpe, University Lecturer in Contemporary European History, and Dr. Andreas Birk, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, are working in the context of digital humanities. They are concerned with the development and evaluation of educational methods that deal with contingencies, thus with uncertainties, doubts and contradictions.
The Jacobs Foundation is funding another project by Professor Birk. The project deals with the development of a laboratory course that serves as conceptual evidence for project-based online learning in engineering education. The sociologist Dr. Jakob Fruchtmann has proposed the creation of a Hybrid Neighborhood Museum as a portal to the world for Jacobs University. In an ongoing series of projects, Jacobs University students will research stories about the campus and Bremen, find tangible and intangible objects, develop apps and innovative forms of excursions, hold events, discuss their results publicly, and thus create an institution that is attractive and meaningful for both, Jacobs University and Bremen's citizens. Dr. Alexander M. Petrescu, Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemical Engineering, wants to develop "Lab@home", an online teaching concept in which students do not passively consume knowledge but focus on practical experiments.
"We want to make a contribution to sustainably improve the teaching and learning experience of students. The selected projects provide just the right impetus in this respect. We are already looking forward to the results," says Simon Sommer, co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation and co-initiator of B3 – Bildung Beyond Boundaries. The research projects will start in fall 2020 and run for 18 months.