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Megaprojects to break down silo mentality

Megaprojects to break down silo mentality

Megaprojects at AAU allow students to become stronger in their own area while also working with sustainability. Such was the opinion of a teacher and two students who attended Wednesday's megaproject conference at AAU. The conference also kicked off the megaprojects of the next semester.

Text and Photo: Trine Kristensen, AAU Communication. Translation: LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication

The first 28 students who worked on megaprojects at AAU received congratulations from Pro-rector Inger Askehave along with a diploma certifying that they had completed a project under the megaprojects of the 2019 autumn semester.

The congratulations and diploma ceremony were part of the first megaproject conference that marked both the end of the first semester with megaprojects as well as the launch of the megaprojects of the spring semester.

Holistic solutions to complex problems

- The megaprojects are a way to unite students across disciplines, semesters and campuses, allowing students to work on unified, holistic solutions to complex issues, said Pro-rector Inger Askehave in her welcome address.

The megaprojects are being done in conjunction with the City of Aalborg providing challenges under the titles “Sustainable Living” and “The Circular Region”, and Councilman Lasse P.N. Olsen was delighted with the partnership based on local challenges.

Asbjørn Riis-Søndergaard, philosopher in sustainability, also gave a presentation on the need for a paradigm shift in the way we think and consume, and that megaprojects are a good gateway to this.

In the autumn semester, there were a total of seven projects, partly with a focus on waste.

View video from the megaproject conference below:

Stronger professional identity for the students

Hanne Louise Jensen, Associate Professor in Sociology, supervised one of the groups and was previously involved in developing an elective in environmental and climate sociology.

- Students are looking for opportunities to get in on the sustainability agenda, and the megaprojects are a good avenue for doing that. It's a big win for students without a huge extra workload. In addition, the megaprojects allow them to see that their competences are in demand in the labour market. This clearly helps to strengthen their professional identity, Hanne Louise Jensen explains.

The two sociology students supervised by Hanne Louise Jensen support this. Their project focused on waste sorting in student housing, and they exchanged input and experiences with a group of economics students working with zero waste shops in Aalborg.

- I'm passionate about the sustainability area, so the megaproject was ideal for me. We were challenged by the economics group on our project and it’s great to already be working with groups from other areas. We’ll be doing that when we enter the labour market, says Freja Christensen, a third semester sociology student.

- It confirmed for me what I’m capable of, and I’ve become better at arguing for my own expertise. In general, the megaprojects are a really good option for students. It takes a little more time, but there’s also a great personal benefit. I’d like to get a Master’s degree in sustainability, and I can easily imagine working on a megaproject again later in the programme, says Line Andersen, who is also a sociology student in the third semester.

Teachers expand their network

The megaprojects will continue in the spring semester 2020 and until the summer of 2021. At the megaproject conference, a total of 11 new challenges were presented that can be worked on in the spring semester. The challenges are still defined under the two major projects Sustainable Living and The Circular Region.

Hanne Louise Jensen contributed a challenge to the spring semester's megaproject, and she encourages both students and teachers to take part in the megaprojects.

- As a supervisor on a megaproject, you expand your network with the expertise of other departments, which can be very useful when it comes to knowledge sharing in teaching and electives. In addition, you can help facilitate relationships between students from different areas, making sure for example that they meet early in the idea phase and choose a joint project that they would all like to work on in their semester project, Hanne Louise Jensen explains.

More information

  • On megaprojects.aau.dk you can find information about the megaprojects, including information targeted to students, supervisors, departments and external partners.