International Week: global learning and collaboration

Each year, the School of Built Environment organizes an International Week for students and international partners in the construction and infrastructure domain. In the week of 19 to 22 April, Japan, Finland and the United States got together to connect, share knowledge and collaborate.

Reinier van den Berg International Week

The 3-day program was a full and varied one, with webinars, presentations and meetings.

"A great program with good speakers," says lecturer Marwin Jurjus, who prepared the 2022 International Week with 5 of his colleagues. "Students from the 1st and 2nd year of the Dutch-taught programs in Architecture and Construction Engineering and Civil Engineering interacted online with fellow students from places like Japan, Finland and the United States." On the Tuesday morning, for example, 3 groups of HAN students held presentations on courtyard residential centers, independent living and assisted living. Students from Tokyo University presented their research projects. 

On the Tuesday afternoon a workshop was held on the Ultimate Marina Layout. Students from HAN and Minnesota State University teamed up online to design a marina. Marwin Jurjus: "This university also has a Civil Engineering program and had two classes participating in the workshop." On the Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, a two-part workshop was given on the Railroad Underpass

​HAN students also had various opportunities during the International Week to get a taste of what it would be like to do a minor or internship abroad. Like during the Be Global Café and in a presentation about cooperation with Tokyo University and Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.

Expanding on collaboration

That same Wednesday, Erica Johnson, director of the Center for Global Engagement at Minnesota State University, visited HAN. She was enthusiastic about our approach and wants to expand the collaboration with our school. "We already have several open lines of communication with this university," says Marwin Jurjus. "Minnesota State University has adopted our concept of Buro Built for example" Buro Built is the student-run bureau for structural and civil engineering consultancy, BMI (building information modelling) and 3D design.

Reinier van den Berg 

Can we still turn the tide? Yes, we can!

A highlight of International Week was the presentation by RTL weatherman Reinier van den Berg on Wednesday afternoon. Van den Berg gave a rundown of observable climate change and then showed his listeners the smart and sustainable choices he himself made when building his home. From heat pumps and solar panels to evergreens as blinds on the outside and shade cloths. 

Reinier van den Berg spoke about the climate with such enthusiasm and gravity that you feel compelled to do something.

Rémi van Rijsbergen, 1st year student of Architecture and Construction Engineering, was impressed with Reinier van den Berg's presentation. Rémi: “He spoke about the climate change he sees as a weatherman. There’s more rain, more sun, it’s getting hotter and the heat is becoming more extreme. Temperature records in the Netherlands suddenly broken by 3 degrees and in Canada even by 6 degrees. He spoke about the climate with such enthusiasm and gravity that you feel compelled to do something. 

World citizens with an eye for SDGs

The organizers of the International Week took full advantage of all the online opportunities. The schedule obviously needed to accommodate the different time zones in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Interacting with other students, working together and learning about different practices all helps develop students' world citizenship, Marwin Jurjus believes: "It’s become much more accessible. It’s so easy now to interact with people on the other side of the world and learn about customs in other cultures."

Study trips are great fun, but you have to measure them against the sustainable development goals.

But he does not see remote contact becoming the norm in the future. “Study trips are great fun, but you have to measure them against the sustainable development goals. That doesn't mean you should scrap them all together, but you should ask yourself the question:  How much does the study trip contribute to the education, and does that outweigh the adverse effects of travel?"