‘A detail to note is that for this plan, we have to relocate three million books,’ says a student when presenting a spot map of the Broerplein. He and his group are presenting the results of a day of making plans.
Earlier, the students went into the city in five groups, each with their 'own' square. Now in the House of Connections, they are presenting their plans to their fellow students. The first group came up with improvements for the Broerplein.
According to the students, the spots on the map indicate places where the square can be enhanced with more greenery and seating areas for social gatherings, making it more inviting and better prepared for the extreme heat and rainfall that await us due to climate change. ‘However, for this to happen, the 500 bikes currently parked there daily need to be relocated, in our opinion, to beneath the University Library, where there are currently millions of books.’
The students of the Future Planet Innovations minor have been working on the future of the planet for six months. This minor is interdisciplinary as it includes students from various fields of study, such as biology, spatial planning, and psychology. Last week, a part of the minor took place in the House of Connections. Under the guidance of teacher Marion van Rijssel from the Faculty of Science & Engineering, the students formed groups and visited squares in the city of Groningen to explore ways to better prepare them for the future, with a focus on climate change.
“Society is in transition. Worldwide people are increasingly aware of the environmental issues we are facing. Today, with the help of technology, we can produce clean energy, reuse materials, and create sustainable consumer goods. Therefore, a new perspective is needed on business cases, consumer lifestyles, and global developments. What does a sustainable world look like? How can we adapt to complex changes?” This is the description of the Future Planet Innovations minor found on the website.
In the first semester of this minor, theory is covered. Afterwards, the students venture into the real world. Van Rijssel explains that, 'During that semester, the students work on a real assignment from an actual client. Fortunately, we always find clients in the region who have questions or who are seeking advice. In the past, for instance, we collaborated with an organization that aimed to cook more sustainably. We also examined how the pier to Ameland could be better arranged. That pier is situated rather inconveniently, leading to constant dredging to keep the channel open. The students examined whether the pier could be relocated or if an entirely new pier needed to be built. In doing this they considered aspects such as nature, economy, and psychology.'
The participating students are in the third year of their Bachelor's degree. Van Rijssel explains, 'Within the RUG, we've agreed that in the third year, students should look beyond the walls of their field, take a broader perspective. For example, by taking law courses, choosing an entrepreneurship minor, or opting for this particular minor. This broader perspective is something that contemporary issues and society demand, and it enriches your education.
During their research on the Broerplein, the students used a thermal camera to determine that the square is a heat island. This is not surprising since the square is entirely made of stone, with the exception of a few trees. Hence, their plan is to add more greenery to the square. Space should be created beneath the University Library to accommodate the five hundred bikes that are currently always parked on the Broerplein
‘According to our research, we can accommodate 800 bikes beneath the University Library, but that would require moving those three million books in the basement,’ one of the students explains on behalf of their group. ‘This would create space for a green square with picnic tables and even a fountain. Communication is also part of the task, so we surveyed the local residents. They would be pleased with this proposal because, for example, the cafe on the corner can expect more customers.’
And yes, the students explain in response to questions from the audience, they have also considered rainwater collection, which would be useful for the plants and the fountain. Is there anything they haven't thought of? Well, of course, there is still the need for a significant budget.
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