STEAM+ newsletter: transdisciplinarity and talent development

STEAM+ Newsletter May 2021

Innovating STE(A)M in Higher Education with Transdisciplinary Talent Programs (STEAM+) is a large-scale innovative project with a holistic approach, aiming to provide educational policy makers with instruments to prepare new generations for handling the challenges of our time. The STEAM+ team proudly presents the latest project news and updates.

In this newsletter:

  • Frontrunners interviews
  • Policy meetings in different countries
  • Oslo Project Meeting 22-23 April 2021
  • Upcoming events
  • Update on impact of the COVID-19 situation on our project
Frontrunners interviews in STEAM+

Each partner country interviewed frontrunners in the field of transdisciplinary education or STEAM approaches in order to learn from their experiences and gather input for our nationally held policy workshops. Frontrunners are thinkers or practitioners who explore visionary new approaches to higher education facing the complexity of the 21st Century (of which Covid gives us a first taster). The following frontrunners were interviewed:

  • Kristin Vinje (NOKUT Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
  • André Baier (TU Berlin)
  • Piero Martin (University of Padua)
  • Michaela Schwinghammer (teacher, Steam+ member, JKU Linz)
  • Ron Weerheijm (Policy maker in Honours Education at University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam)
  • Julie Debrauwere, VUB (Free University Brussels)
  • Gert van Hecken (Institute of Development Policy at University of Antwerp)

The interviewees reflected on challenges we are facing and pinpointed the fact that there is an urgent need for educating students with a transdisciplinary approach, which is not to possible by extrapolating from the current models we are using today. We clearly see that these pioneers are aware of the needs for unknown future. The European Green Deal too calls for a shift in values across the economy, putting human and planetary health central. A clear long-term vision with reachable stepping-stones and transparent good practices is needed to spur societal learning.

Policy meetings in different countries

Having a positive impact on society, talent development and STEAM education, needs to involve the policy makers in each country and at EU level who are the key actors to implement ideas and make changes. We have planned all the meetings with the national policy makers in each participant country between April-June 2021. The main aim of these meetings is raising awareness among policy makers about the importance of transdisciplinary approach in education and the need of STEAM education for tackling the future societal challenges, and/or discussing the challenges and opportunities in each country in these areas. The outcomes of these meetings will be an inspiration menu for policy makers across the EU.

Our partners from Norway and Austria have already had their first meetings with their national policy makers. These are two countries with different cultural background and traditions concerning talent development and STEAM initiatives. Talent development and STEAM education is well-known in Austria and there are a lot of available supports for new STEAM initiatives, however, in Norway, there is still a need to convince policy makers to invest more in this area, so one size does not fit all. It proves the significance of our projects and the needs for raising awareness of policy means across Europe. Curious about how to inspire policy makers and convince them about the importance of STEAM education and talent development? Stay tuned, more information will be coming in future.


Oslo Project Meeting 22-23 April 2021

We had two wonderful online project-meeting days organized by our Oslo partner. Besides discussing the status quo of our project activities and events, we also had two inspiring sessions with two different groups of honors students from Oslo University. In the first session, students shared their experiences of being the first honors students in at University of Oslo. They expressed their gratitude of having this opportunity to be able to collaborate with students from other disciplines, and being able to develop their skills further and challenge themselves more. This was particularly interesting because Talent Development does not have a long history in Norway. One of the students, Thomas Lønn Hammer, expressed it so nicely: “the honors program scratches the previously un-scratchable itch of free flowing, creative play of big ideas. That’s why I am an honours student I think, because it allows me to think big”. We have also had an inspirational session with honors students that were involved in developing interdisciplinary content for other honors students, such a nice co-creation between teachers and students. The process of this co-creation, their personal experiences, learning outcomes and challenges they have faced were among the topics discussed. Another guest in our meetings was Nik Waldram - a first year Honours student at the Geoscience Department of the Utrecht University. «Doing a Undergraduate Research Project as a honours cours in my study programme, I recently joined a research team in the context of STEAM+. In order to gain a better understanding of the project, I attended the Oslo Meeting at the 22th of April, which proved to be useful indeed. I found it particularly interesting to observe (and sometimes join) discussions on the actual development and implementation of new educational programmes, rather than experiencing these courses from a student’s perspective. It was fascinating to see the eductional future for students like myself being discussed and shaped during this online meetings.» Talent development in higher education can be challenging. Also, becoming successful in higher education demands a lot from students. Considering the Job Demands-Resources model it is expected that personal resources help students succeed. You can read a new article in the Journal European Honors Council about personal resources conducive to educational success in demanding contexts of honours education from high achieving students’ perspectives.


Upcoming events
Symposium KU Leuven Facing the Future

On 5th of May 2021, Belgium - Online

Students from KU Leuven Transdisciplinary Honours Program will present their learning outcomes. At KU Leuven two teams of students from various disciplines worked for one academic year on the question how to innovate higher education and research for the complexity of the 21st century, the core question of the STEAM+ project. Together with other transdisciplinary teams they will present their results on May 5th in the afternoon and have a debate with the rector of KU Leuven. You're welcome to join for free! Please register before May 3rd using this link.

Catalyzing Change Week

On 5th of May 2021, 15:00-16:00 CEST-Online

Interactive session of the Learning for Sustainability Circle, co-hosted by #LearningPlanet, Club of Rome and Catalyst 2030. Addressing new societal challenges need new skills and approach. This event is a surpassing disciplines, the #LP Education for Sustainability Circle will explore how learners of all ages can develop the necessary knowledge and skills for collaborative problem solving and addressing SDGs. Thank you for registering in advance using this link.


European Humanities Conference- explores transdisciplinary learning and research

On 5th-7th May 2021-Online

The conference focuses on cross-cutting themes of society, highlighting the specific contribution of the Humanities to our world, in close cooperation with researchers from other disciplines such as the natural, social, engineering, and medical sciences, to discuss educational and scientific policy as well as processes of societal dissemination of knowledge. Anne Snick, member of the STEAM+ steering committee, was invited to participate in the Round Table on ‘Multidisciplinary Dynamics as Education and R&D strategies for meaningful problem solving’. All information and registration can be found via this link.


Learning from society how to increase resilience

On 10th -12th May 2021, Belgium-Online

At KU Leuven the interdisciplinary research group SuRP+ (Sustainability and Resilience in Past and Present Populations) organizes a workshop on the topic of human-environment interactions and sustainability in the past, present and future societies. If you’re interested, please find the full program and registration form via this link.



On 26th -28th May 2021, Austria-Online

The aim of this conference is to continue discussion of how researchers are engaging in designing STEAM education research and environments. Presentations at the conference will enable us to learn about the work of colleagues locally and internationally, and to discuss our roles in designing innovations in STEAM Education. STEAM+ will be presenting on 27th at 16:00. Registration is free, and can be done by using this link.


Questioning the cultural assumptions underlying STEM education

On 16th-18th June 2021, Netherlands - Online

The Hanze University of Applied Sciences invites you to join World of Talent 2021 - International Conference on Talent Development and Honors Education. Considering all COVID-19 measures here in the Netherlands, the conference will be held fully online and attendance is free of charge! Together with all contributors and participants, we put together an inspiring and engaging program! More information on keynote speakers, workshops and parallel sessions will be coming soon.


Update on impact of COVID-19 situation

Like many other national and international projects, our project has also been affected by COVID-19 situation. As a result, many of our activities have been postponed and our project have been extended for 6 months (till June 2023) to maintain the quality of work. Ca’Foscari University Venice will be hosting our first Innovation Lab in Venice / Italy from 18th-23rd July 2021.


Project website

We are in a process of re-designing our website.

Thank you for reading our newsletter of STEAM+ Innovating STE(A)M in Higher Education with Transdisciplinary Talent Programs! Visit our web page to find out more the STEAM+ project and its partners:

Project Coordinator: Prof. Marca Wolfensberger, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands STEAM+ newsletter editor: University of Oslo, Norway Email:

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