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The third UvA Create a Course Challenge took place on Thursday, 29 November. This year's jury award went to 'Biotechnology: from pharma to Frankenstein'. According to the jury, this is a 'wonderful course with innovative teaching methods that is highly relevant to society'. The course will be offered in the first semester of 2019-2020 as an interdisciplinary elective at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS).

Nils Boonstra (21), Ida van Koolwijk (22), Tijmen Kuyper (21) and Julie Maas (24) created the course with the aim of making biotechnology generally understandable. Can people really live to 200? How long before people can choose the sex of their baby? How can biotechnology contribute to solving the problem of climate change? These are some of the questions that the four initiators would like to see discussed and answered as part of the course. The interdisciplinary character of the course is guaranteed, not least because each of the four students hails from a different field. 'By the end of this course, we want students to have at least mastered the basics of biotechnology. The objective is for students to draw connections between their own field and a specific challenge, such as cultured meat. So for instance, Economics students could look at the impact of cultured meat on supermarkets or something like that, whereas students from other fields could investigate its ethical aspects', the winners explained.

All finalists, the jury and the moderator. The four 2019 winners are at the front and on the right.

The jury's verdict

On behalf of the three-person jury, Roeland Voorbergen (chair, CSR) said that the course met all assessment criteria. Aside from the topic being highly up-to-date, the course also attracted praise for its innovate teaching methods and relevance to society. For example, students who take the course will be graded on an interactive workshop that they present to local residents or businesses. This type of multidisciplinary research and teaching helps bridge the gap between science and society.

The audience award went to the course Artificial Intelligence Safety, created by Victor Zuanazzi (27). If desired, all finalists will be aided and assisted with developing their course as an elective for their own faculty or degree programme.

What's next?

In the period ahead, the course developers at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) will sit down with the winners to develop their idea into an actual course which will be offered as an interdisciplinary elective in the first semester of the upcoming academic year.

The jury (from left to right): Guda van Noort (lecturer, Communication Science), Roeland Voorbergen (chair, CSR) and Lucy Wenting (director, IIS).

Visit the Create a Course Challenge website

The IIS received a total of 42 entries and had 26 of them developed into concrete ideas. Out of these, the best 10 ideas were selected, after which UvA students and staff were able to narrow the selection down to a top five by voting online.