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Lab 2: Innovative ways to make progress on SDGs

Dr. Roya Shokoohi, Senior Researcher, and Project leader at Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, Netherlands.

Our second innovation lab hosted by Klaipeda University took place online from 22nd November till 3rd of December. I was not involved in the lab directly, but as it took place online, it gave me an opportunity to join some of the talks, meetings and the final presentation of students. In this lab students were asked to find a local challenge on their university campus/city, and try to find out how to integrate SDGs to improve or solve that issue in a creative way, and which local stakeholders should/could be involved to help them to achieve their goal.

Between 2 to 4 students from 9 European partner countries participated in the online Klaipeda innovation lab, and each group of students had one coach from their own university who is also a member of steering group in STEAM+ project. The lab started with a full day online program, including several keynote speakers from Lithuania and other countries,  instructions and information about the whole two weeks. During the kick off session, students were informed that their final presentation have to be in a video format, and they will get some support to make the video. During the same meeting a workshop was conducted by an honour student from Utrecht University, Netherlands in order to inform student participants  about the use of an online platform to make a video and offered her availability and advice if students need any help or face any problem while making a video.

Using SDGs as a road map to build back better by turning these global ambitions into local actions is a challenge even for professionals around the globe. Engaging students from different countries and disciplines through this framework, to find a local issue, develop an idea within two weeks was definitely a super challenge , but helped them to find out information about SDGs and how to integrate them to improve/ solve the issue.

Most of students stated that the biggest challenge for them was to work in a group while they did not know each other at all, and had different points of view. Also, how to narrow down their ideas and stick to a single one which is important and can be addressed by integrating SDGs. They have chosen different topics such as reducing using papers on campus, saying no to using plastic bags, biodiversity, stimulating active transportation,  mental health of students specially during this pandemic and recycling in more an efficient way.

Some of them tried to improve an existing solution in a creative way while others tried to develop a new idea. All of them looked at the topic from different views and disciplines that based on their own statements helped them to understand the complexity of the issue and needs of collaboration between discipline to address the societal challenges. All students presented their process and results using video, and they have found it very interesting to learn how to make a video during this assignment as well.

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