Where Ideas grow

An idea lab to develop new skills

It's called Hybrid Lab Network and is the result of a strategic partnership between the i3S, two higher education institutions from Slovenia and Finland, and a Dutch foundation - and was recently funded by the Erasmus+ European Union Program with €340,000. The aim of the 3 years project is to promote innovation and good practice in advanced education through a multidisciplinary approach integrating four major areas: Art, Science, Technology / Engineering and the Humanities.

The transnational consortium, with i3S as the main promoter, aims to promote a process of reflection, experimentation, and action on what education is intended to be in the future. In this - innovation, autonomy, interdisciplinarity, and curriculum flexibility are key tools for fostering new educational ecosystems that integrate collaborative and sustainable approaches. Júlio Borlido Santos, project coordinator, explains that the main idea of the project is to "create a ‘laboratory’ of ideas and discussion that promotes the development of new critical, creative, innovative and social skills in undergraduate and graduate students, linking research to education and open sharing of knowledge".

The goals outlined in the project, said team member Maria Rui Correia, "respond to the student/researcher/citizen/worker profile designed for 2030 by the OECD and the objectives set out in the New EU Agenda for Higher Education". These goals include "preparing young people for jobs, technologies, and social challenges that do not exist, providing them with multidisciplinary knowledge and new critical and creative thinking skills, facilitating their mobility and encouraging attitudes and values needed to face the future successfully”.

According to Maria Manuela Lopes, who is responsible for the artistic component of the i3S team, the project aims to "complement academic education by offering other hybrid approaches to meet the demands of contemporary experiential education and the labor market by developing cross-cutting skills. excellence in a logic of exchange of good practices between the project partners and articulating the four cultures - Art, Science, Technology / Engineering and Humanities - so that they can reach the largest number of young people in education, in interaction with the citizens".

As an example, Júlio Borlido Santos points out that there are some areas of training with a deficit in creative thinking and, explains, "this is precisely why our initiatives aim to develop and test multidisciplinary teaching methods that promote creativity and innovation to solve current and future complex problems. We argue that creating multidisciplinary spaces and moments can be the key to driving new discoveries, finding new learning and working options and discovering new ideas".

In the Hybrid Lab Network’s final phase, it will create new educational modules and kits for the advanced training offerings of participating institutions and ensure the development of new skills for around 500 participants (educators, students and citizens) through scheduled activities such as Summer Schools, Biohacking Academy, Workshops, Seminars, and Intensive Study Programs.

In addition to the i3S, the project will be developed with groups from four European institutions: the Waag Society from the Netherlands, Alma Mater Europaea from Slovenia, and the IT University of Copenhagen from Denmark. In Portugal, the project includes researchers and technicians from the University of Porto in the areas of life sciences and health and has the participation of specialists in the field of education and the arts. Other institutions, such as ESAD Matosinhos and the cultural association «Cultivamos Cultura» showed interest and joined the project. These institutes will be invited to host training sessions at their own institutions to test the new educational kits and pilot modules produced so that the impact at a national and international level can be sustained over the long term. The i3S will offer additional events during the year following the end of the project to further enhance HYBRID's impact and assess its sustainability.

Erasmus+ is a European funding program for Education, Youth, and Sport - and supports projects aligned with the Europe 2020 strategies. In general, it focuses on knowledge and skills which will be reflected in a more inclusive and prosperous Europe.