ISP 2019 in the Netherlands

How to inform residents of the city of The Hague about the energy transition and what will it take to get them into action to get off the gas grid and embrace alternative ways of heating their houses and cooking their meals? That was the central question of the intensive study period of the PEETS project 2019 in The Hague and the island of Ameland. At the same time, students worked on their transversal skills.

The Hague

39 students studying at GCU Scotland, LAMK Finland and THUAS Netherlands assembled on the evening of May 30th at the Stayokay hostel in the city of The Hague. The group consisted of 11 nationalities, from 4 continents and 9 different study programs, guaranteeing an international, intercultural and interdisciplinary approach. The first evening had get-to-know-each-other activities and a pizza dinner.

On Friday there were lectures and exercises on communication planning, interviewing skills and intercultural competencies. In the afternoon local students presented the city of The Hague to the foreign students. Saturday started with a presentation from Duurzaam Den Haag (Sustainable The Hague) on energy transition away from gas and towards sustainable ways of heating the house and cooking. The focus was on two specific neighborhoods: Koningsplein and Zeeheldenkwartier. In the afternoon students interviewed residents of these neighborhoods on facts, opinions, experiences and motives concerning the energy transition.


Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were spent on the island of Ameland. Staff and students experienced a coach trip through the lovely Dutch countryside (many wind mills, wind farms and dikes) a ferry trip from Holwerd to Nes and a 9 km bicycle ride (how sustainable can you go?) to the accommodation Sier aan Zee on the western tip of the island. In 3 teams students constructed a portable water pump. With climate change, weather is getting more and more extreme causing torrential rain fall in The Netherlands. A portable pump could help residents pumping water out of their basements in an easily accessible way.

Constructing and assembling a water pump in intercultural and interdisciplinary teams causes multiple challenges, which forces students out of their comfort zones, creating excellent opportunities for deep learning. We had a presentation from the municipality of Ameland (who claim to be the most sustainable municipality of The Netherlands) and a visit to the local solar park. On the final day, the performances of the water pumps needed to be assessed during so called Pump Olympics. Characteristics assessed were power, thrust, noise, precision and mobility. We arrived back in The Hague in a thunder storm with torrential rain, adding to the relevance of the project.

The Hague again

Wednesday started with a welcome from the Head of Faculty from THUAS and a second lecture on communication planning. In the afternoon students received a presentation on sustainable architecture from Pieter Sitsen (KOW architecten) after which they could work in their 3 groups on the recommendations for the city of The Hague on energy transition. Thursday had more group work but only after students had a work shop on personal branding. In the afternoon staff provided extra challenges by expediting deadlines and alterations to the assignment.

On Friday morning students presented their plans and recommendations to Duurzaam Den Haag. The afternoon had a focus on reflection with the STARR methodology and the post test (students did a pre test when starting with the pre assignments in March). Research data on these tests are to be presented in a later stadium. The grand final of the ISP took place in the Higher Hospitality School in the Hague where we underwent an obstacle dinner.


ISP 2018 in Finland

The ISP week consisted of several activities, which were aimed at supporting the learning of employability and transversal skills.

Group forming and getting to know each other

The week started on Thursday evening with team forming and roles introduction with getting-to-know each other activities on the arrival evening. Also the three student mentors were appointed in the teams. There was pizza dinner.

The evening together in the first evening was successful in supporting the students feeling of togetherness based on the interviews.

Lectures on the introduction day

This evaluation is based on observation notes, students feedback and student interviews.

The first full day was an introduction day and it consisted of topics like: introduction & outline of the week, Multicultural team work, Solar energy in Finland, Solar Project in Africa, Employability – transversal skills, Introduction to experimental learning phase. The introduction day was carefully planned to support the XPL, addition from ISP1 was for example a lecture on multicultural teamwork.

XPL Camp days and company visits

The ISP2 consisted of 3 days in camp conditions. Students were accommodated in cottages with a shared main building where the meals were served. The main objective for the camp days were to build solar power to charge mobile phones. Based on the student evaluation report the students were 89% (very) satisfied for the camp. The students were working in groups of 12-13 (3 groups). The students were working eagerly and they seem to be enjoying themselves. The students seemed to have been satisfied with the staff performance and the instructions where and when to be present were clear as 89 % were (very) satisfied compared to ISP1 (67%).

There were 3 company visits (ABB, P-H Waste Management Ltd, and Kanava brewery) and the satisfaction was quite high among the students (76-78%) were (very) satisfied.

Team work day

Team work day consisted of Marketing strategy / lectures & workshop and in the afternoon the teams were preparing the presentation for the next day.

Finishing day

In the morning of the finishing day the students were giving the presentation of the results and marketing speech to Mr Josphat Siror, regional leader in Kenya.

The afternoon was reserved for presentation and reflection with STARR and for student feedback. Students were well committed and open to reflect chosen situations during the teamwork. The STARR method was first presented and then used in groups. STARR is offering a clear structure for the reflection and it taught the students a reflection method that they could use in work life.

Students’ post-test and evaluation questionnaire were given a specific time during the last day. This was guaranteeing that the feedback from students was received (38 answered from total of 39 students).

In the end of the finishing day, the photos from the week were shared and final words and thanks were said. This was a nice closing of the week and participants’ were feeling happy and cheerful.

PEETS’s ISP was concluded with a collective dinner.


I.S.P. 2017 in Scotland

We are delighted to report the outcomes and impact of the first year of PEETS. It entailed a lot of behind the scenes work and research and entailed significant collaboration between our academic and industrial partners.

Key collaborative activities included

1. Training needs assessment
2. Research and development of presentations into renewable energy for each country
3. Preparation of student “self-introduction” videos
4. Tracking of development of “international competencies”
5. Development of International competencies App
6. 10 day intensive study period in Scotland for 50 students and staff (9 nationalities) which included
• presentation from students, academia and industry;
• visits to industrial facilities (Whitelee windfarm, Cruachan Pumped storage Hydro scheme, Scottish Association for Marine Science – presentations on impacts of marine windfarms);
• 3 days planning, setting out, constructing 3X5M wind turbines at Constructionarium Scotland Ltd.;
• role play in a “mock Public Inquiry” relating to a windfarm application;
• social activities including preparing a starter from their own country for the International Dinner; tour of Glasgow and Oban; visit to distillery; participating in Ceilidh.

A summary of PEETS including photographs of the ISP activities is available in this online presentation at the Higher Education Academy conference in July 2017.

We are very keen to demonstrate the overall impact of the PEETS project. The impacts of our activities are similar across the three University Partners but particularly the 50 staff and students participating in the ISP (66% in another European Country). The impacts can be seen over a number of levels:

Local level – immediate impact on participating students, their teachers and the Industries that are involved in the project. This has included increased understanding of key International competencies and the development of enhanced employability skills which will help bridge the skills gap in this sector.

National level – dissemination of initiatives to other universities; involvement of policy makers, demonstrating impact of project through robust academic evaluation. PEETS has already been shortlisted as a finalist in the Scottish Green Energy Awards on November 30th 2017.

EU Level – extension and promotion of the network throughout the EU, between the participant HEIs and to non participating HEIs through the development and dissemination of intellectual outputs – module development, training materials, and more specifically the development of the IC App. We have been invited to present our findings at a number of International Conferences and have received requests from a number of other Universities who are keen to collaborate with the PEETS team in the future.

The impact on the students involved is that they have participated in a challenging and transformational experience that has broadened their horizon and their network. They have improved their international competencies and enhanced their self-confidence, career development and employability. It is likely the impacts on students development will become more significant over the next couple of years as the students reflect on their activities and mature as young learners.

The 3 universities concerned have gained valuable experience in how to teach and facilitate the development of international competencies to students in an interdisciplinary, international and intercultural setting. They have learned from working with international experts from their partners. University staff can further develop their own cultural awareness, innovation skills and excellence in teaching. The incorporation of this module into the partner’s institution’s curricula will have a long term impact on the programs involved, but will also have a wider effect in the development of similar future collaborative projects, leading to increased internationalization of the partner’s institution’s curricula.

PEETS has also encouraged greater cross-school/department collaboration within the Universities eg – involvement of the Careers Service; Disability support service; School of Health and Life Sciences (students from the BSc Dietetics programme supporting the International dinner)

The project has had a positive impact on individual staff members who have used some of the materials as evidence of scholarly activity which can contribute to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

The Universities have benefitted through direct funding which has partly supported the research and development of the project. It has also directly supported student and staff mobility – at a time when mobility has declined.

The outputs of the first year have been presented at 2 International Conferences so this along with the planned journal papers (part of our overall dissemination plan) will be considered for REF 2021 and TEF.