At the moment we are all dealing with a global pandemic of COVID-19, which requires strong global and cross-sectional collaboration. Student health and well-being is one of the important topics of consideration. We would like to share an initiative where we are using a university course within the Vrije Universiteit (VU) to provide insights for ongoing international investigation.
The bachelor’s course Health in the City course commenced in April. This course is fully devoted to Community Service Learning (CSL). Within CSL courses, students use their academic skills to contribute to solving complex problems often in close collaboration with a societal partner. Within the current course the VU and the royal tropical institute (KIT) are the commissioning parties and they are interested to learn how they can contribute to student health given the current COVID-19 crisis. The students of the course will conduct online interviews with a student from the VU and KIT about their experiences in relation to the current COVID-19 measures. Based on the results, a final report and practical recommendations on how to best deal with the current situation will be made. Moreover, this exercise will be directly feeding into an on-going international collaborative study of Athena Institute, VU and Institute for Social and Political Psychology NAES Ukraine. The results of the student work will be used to inform a questionnaire assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of university students in various context (currently NL and Ukraine, with potential to expansion to UK, Italy, Greece, Laos and Vietnam).
Adopting courses to address the current crisis gives students the opportunity to directly contribute to the latest developments regarding the COVID-19. Moreover, it offers an excellent opportunity to learn about the subject and to reflect and to express their own opinion. Despite these special times, online courses with a CSL component can certainly be educational and have added value within education but also beyond. As is shown by this example, it can contribute to international collaborative effort by offering special depth and embedment of the findings as well as to ensure their direct applicability for the population in need.
Written by dr. Elena Syurina
Interested to learn more about the possibilities of CSL? Contact Prof. M.B.M. Zweekhorst.
Contact Dr. Elena Syurina if you would like to have more information or contribute to the initiative of an international student wellbeing survey.