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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Local Initiatives for Sustainable Development

We are currently updating our course overview for 2021-2022. The information below might be updated.

drawing of school under tree

What are the pressing issues of development today? Poverty, inequality and climate change are certainly outstanding candidates in the world we live in. However, what to say about the local problems that cities and communities all around the world face daily? What actions have been taken to tackle such issues? Who are the stewards driving processes of change at the local level? Most importantly, how do these local initiatives connect to the global sustainable development agenda?

In this summer school, we will look into the roles of local actors, particularly the youth, who are coming together to create alternative solutions to the challenges people face in their everyday lives. Our focus is local, looking at the initiatives around the city of Groningen, but also international when discussing the experiences within other hubs in Africa, Middle East and Latin America where embedded researchers and practitioners have been involved in processes of change. We will actively seek for different stories from individuals seeking to overcome ethnic, religious and political divides in their communities to young people transforming post-conflict situations in livelihood opportunities through collective action. We expect to draw a connection among these stories and to engage in a joint production of knowledge with our interlocutors.

Working in core themes connected to local initiatives around Groningen, participants will be able to contact community engaged actors, physically and/or online, and to investigate further into their challenges and inspirations. This small-scale fieldwork experience will be reflected upon under the light of participatory approaches to research and social change. Participants in this summer school will learn about the role of community stewards, particularly of local youth, and will be given the tools to identify key social issues. Furthermore, they will be motivated to find meaningful ways to contribute to social change whatever they are.

Practical information

Dates 12 - 16 July 2021
Application deadline: 21 May 2021
Location Groningen and online
Fee Groningen Groningen: € 350
(includes 5 lunches, welcoming dinner and 1 excursion)
Fee online

€ 50

Academic coordinators

Josje van der Linden, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences
Ana Rodrigues Vasse, Faculty of Arts


Ana Rodrigues-Vasse (coordinator)
Nina Valentini (student assistant)


Nina Valentini is a third year bachelor's student of International Relations and International Organization with a minor in Development Studies at the University of Groningen. Next to her studies, she is active in the Dutch United Nations Student Association and as a tutor and mentor for her study programme. Nina is particularly interested in issues of human rights and political participation in the Global South, and spent a year volunteering in Paraguay before starting her university studies. As a student assistant, she supports the organising team with the logistics and set-up of the summer school.

Canal in Groningen

We strive to organize the summer school online as well as on location in Groningen, pending (inter)national coronavirus restrictions.


This course is designed for people with an interest in local initiatives on all levels, from very practical to more theoretical. No prior education needed.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

  1. How to position local initiatives in the broader agenda of sustainable development
  2. Getting a global/multi-cultural perspective on local initiatives
  3. Understanding the goals and strategies of grass roots initiatives in and around Groningen

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 40 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Josje van der Linden

Josje van der Linden is lecturer and researcher at the University of Groningen. Her research interests encompass the area of lifelong learning, vocational education and workplace learning for adults and youth in the Netherlands and in Africa with special attention to youth, education and work in (post-)conflict areas. Dr. van der Linden is appointed as UNESCO chair holder on Lifelong learning, youth and work at Gulu university in Gulu, Uganda.

Ana Carolina Rodrigues-Vasse

Ana Carolina Rodrigues-Vasse is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Groningen, where she also coordinates the Minor Development Studies. She has a background in agriculture and rural extension particularly in the global south. Her current research focuses on understanding the dynamics around agricultural education and training as well as its contribution to the livelihoods of rural youth particularly in Mozambique and Uganda. Recently, she has written a chapter and co-edited the book Youth, Education and Work in post-conflict areas based on her experience of organising the homonymous summer school in Gulu, Uganda, in 2018. As of 2021, Ana is also holding a position at the Federal University of Tocantins in Brazil as a volunteer lecturer.

Danny Wildemeersch

Danny Wildemeersch currently is an emeritus professor of ‘Social and Cultural Pedagogy’ at the University of Leuven in Belgium (1986 – now). He also was a full professor of ‘Social Pedagogy and Andragogy’ at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands (1994-2002). He is connected to the K.U. Leuven Laboratory for Education and Society. His research focuses on a variety of themes such as intercultural pedagogy, social learning and participation, intercultural pedagogy, citizenship education, education for sustainability, transitions from school to work, participation in development co-operation. He has published widely on these issues. He is an editor of RELA (European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults). He is an advisory member of the International Journal of Lifelong Education, Adult Education Quarterly and Studies in Continuing Education.

sharon postma
Sharon Postma

Sharon Postma works at ROC Noorderpoort in Groningen. From her role at Noorderpoort Duurzaam, she has been involved in the organization of Climate Adaptation Week in Groningen and connected to projects such as the Open University on Climate Adaptation and Youth for Climate Adaptation (YfCA), whereby she highlights the importance of MBO education to an inclusive youth network transitioning towards sustainability. She has also been the project leader of the Regional Action Agenda and the young climate ambassadors in Groningen. Wanna know more about Sharon? Please visit:

Mariasole Pepa

Mariasole Pepa is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography at the University of Padua, University of Venice & University of Verona. Her research project focuses on alternative paths for China-Africa agricultural cooperation with particular focus on Tanzania and Sino-Tanzanian relations. Pepa graduated in International Development and Cooperation at the University of Bologna and obtained a Master's Degree in Local Development at the University of Padua with a thesis written on China's land grabbing in Africa. She spent a few months as a visiting researcher at the Center for African Studies at Peking University and at the Department of Global Development Studies at Helsinki University. Pepa coordinated a cycle of seminars on China-Africa relations at the University of Padua and is currently an expert on the subject at the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society (CPS) at the University of Turin.

Alessio Surian

PhD in Educational Sciences, works as Associate Professor at the University of Padova where he teaches and conducts research since 2001. He teaches Transformative Learning, Participation and Group Dynamics in the Local Development master degree. He is a member of the steering group of the Intercultural and Migration Studies Interdepartmental Centre (CIRSIM). He collaborates with the University of Buenos Aires (Cátedra Libre de Ingeniería Comunitaria), with the Latin American Council for Social Sciences (CLACSO) (as a member of the Critical Pedagogies and Popular Education Working Group), and with the Special Interest Groups on Social Interaction, and on Learning in culturally diverse settings of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instructions (EARLI). He consults the Council of Europe and the DG Development and DG Education and Culture of the European Commission on project assessment as well as on studies concerning competences in education. He is an active member of the Padova Freire Group and of the World Education Forum.

Contact: alessio.surian@unipd

Gloria Almeyda

Gloria Almeyda holds an MSc in Finance and International Business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her career in international development, she has had extensive experience with youth workforce development in Latin America, as a regional and senior coordinator with the Cooperative Association of States for Scholarship (CASS) and Scholarships for Education & Economic Development (SEED) programs - funded by USAID and managed by the Georgetown University Centre for Intercultural Education and Development (CIED). Since 2017 she has been a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Solidarity Sector of the University of San Gil.

Miguel Fajardo

Miguel Fajardo holds a BSc in Philosophy and postgraduate in Sociology of Development, Research Theories and Methods and Education. He has recently published articles related to the solidarity economy. He is a cofounder of the University of San Gil (Unisangil) and the Colombian network of researchers and research institutions in solidarity economy UNICOSOL as well as several cooperative and social organisations in Colombia.

adupio scovia
Adrupio Scovia

Adrupio Scovia graduated in Agriculture at Gulu University and is currently a research assistant for RAELL (Reimagining Agricultural Extension Through a Learning Lens) project. She is also coordinating the activities of UNESCO Chair on Lifelong Learning, Youth and work at Gulu University.

David Monk

David Monk is a community activist, lifelong learner, and lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Humanities and the institute for Peace and Strategic Studies at Gulu University, Uganda. David is the co-chair of the Gulu Centre for Community Based Participatory Research, where he is working closely with partners in Kenya and Tanzania to develop a network of Community Based Research in East Africa. David is interested in empowering, transformative praxis embedded in deep ecological principles that challenge hegemonic power and includes action to address systemic social and ecological injustices. He is guided by the Earth Charter and the UNESCO principles of lifelong learning that centre learning “to be” and learning “to live together”. David is committed to decolonization and to creating a world that places love for people and the planet before profit and greed.

Elles Bulder
Elles Bulder

Elles Bulder has a PhD in economics and a background in economic history. At this moment she is professor Living Environment in Transition at Research Centre NoorderRuimte located at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. In her research she analyses transitional processes in rural areas while involving stakeholders from the quadruble helix via a user centred design. Her reserach interest lies in impactful research that can be used to revive and redesign living environments throughout Europe.

nathalie beekman
Nathalie Beekman

Nathalie Beekman has a background in film making and audiovisual design. She was artistic director of Pavlov medialab, which specialized in interdisciplinary art collaborations and site specific (new media) art in public space. Subsequently she was artistic director of Pavlov E-Lab, which had a focus on art & science projects. In collaboration with the Research Centre ‘Image in Context’ of Minerva Art Academy she does artistic research into (participative) art projects with a social agenda. She is a part time teacher at the Master of Art Education of the Hanze University of Applied sciences in Groningen. Currently, she does a PhD research into an art & philosophy lab for children, Sparklab, in which the natural environment plays an important role.

nienke busscher
Nienke Busscher

Nienke Busscher is project coordinator of the Knowledgeplatform 'Leefbaar en Kansrijk Groningen'. The platform works on knowledge dissemination and brings researchers together with all sorts of actors involved in the gas extraction case. The platform has three research focus points: giving overview of the societal impact of the gas extraction in Groningen; the restoration of relations in Groningen and finding avenues for improving the implementation of mining projects in the region. Wanna know more about Nienke and the Leefbaar en Kansrijk Groningen? Please visit:

anna giraldo
Anna Giraldo

Anna Giraldo holds a PhD in Applied Statistics, and currently works as an Associate Professor at the University of Padova. She is the Director of the Master Course in Local Development where she teaches statistics and impact evaluation. Her main research interests are: labor economics, poverty, impact evaluation of labor policies, data quality in sample surveys. Contact: anna.giraldo

Francesca Gambarotto

Francesca Gambarotto is professor of applied economics at the Dept. of Philosophy, Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Padova. She teaches circular economics, economics of innovation and regional economics. Her main research interests are in three interconnected topics:

  • Territorial economic development, especially regarding the social and environmental sustainability of economic processes. Transition from linearity to circularity depends on the capacity of firms to redesign production processes and business models. The challenge for production activities is starting from different value systems and decision processes based on the complexity of the real world.
  • Analysis of the European economic area adopting the variety of capitalism framework. The aim of this research investigation is to understand European regional disparities. Great attention has been devoted to the problems of economic peripherization, especially after the last negative financial shock.
  • The firms’ adoption of technological innovation and other key enabling technologies throughout European countries and regions is considered a relevant productivity driver. Using microdata, I investigate the impact on Italian local labour market (more precisely for the Emilia Romagna region) of these new technologies to understand what the effects are on job’s task and employee skills.

She publishes in national and international journals and on scientific books she is a member of Italian (SIE, AISRE) and European Economic Associations (EAEPE, SASE). She was president of the Scientific and Technological Park of Padova for six years. At present, she is a member of the regional thinktank to evaluate sustainable regional pathways of the economic structure. She is engaged in many activities concerning the Third Mission of Unipd.

Course schedule

Monday: Guest lectures; Experiences of local development initiatives in Padova, Italy

Tuesday: Workshop on Participatory Action Research; Experiences of local development initiatives in Colombia and Uganda

Wednesday: Introduction to Local Initiatives in Groningen

Thursday: Fieldwork

Friday: Group presentations and discussions

Application procedure

To apply, kindly fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • CV (max 2 pages)
  • Letter of motivation (250 words max)

The selection for the summer school will be made within one week after the deadline for applications has passed. The final deadline for application is 21 May 2021.


This summer school is organised in collaboration with the international network on Youth, Education and Work, Globalisation Studies Groningen and the UNESCO Chair on Lifelong Learning, Youth and Work.

Globalistation Studies Groningen
Last modified:13 September 2021 2.23 p.m.