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Student Chris Kobelke participated in the ‘Multigenerational Hackathon on Sustainable Development’

04 June 2024
Chris Kobelke presents the outcome of the Hacketon challenge. Photo: Marco in 't Veldt
Chris Kobelke presents the outcome of the Hackathon challenge. Photo: Marco in 't Veldt

The Rudolf Agricola School's first Hackathon has just finished. In four groups they worked on four different challenges. One of the challenges was introduced by the municipality of Groningen: ‘How can we encourage students to eat more plant-based food?’ Five students worked on this challenge. Chris Kobelke was one of them.

The German psychology student Chris Kobelke participated in the Hackaton challenge 'Embed more plant-based protein sources in students’ eating habits.' 

Chris: ‘The hackathon lasted a month, but it felt very short. We went from brainstorming and research to implementation, and it flew by. I joined the group because my girlfriend wanted to participate in the hackathon, and I thought, 'Hey, that sounds fun!' I had long wanted to do something meaningful. And it turned out to be fun, both in terms of content and the group. We conducted research with five students. We were guided by Emma Zaal, and of course, there was contact with the client, the Municipality of Groningen itself.’

Chris is from Germany, but he decided to study in Groningen after visiting and immediately feeling at home there:

'As a group, we had many meetings and video calls. We searched for papers on the topic and interviewed many students. We researched beliefs, behavior, and intentions. It helped that I already had some prior knowledge due to my studies and interests. We were five students with very different backgrounds. Some had already done things for the Green Office of the University of Groningen, so they knew a lot about environmental issues. One student knew a lot about communication, which was useful for our campaign, and another had extensive factual knowledge about food.

We came up with the idea that people can be influenced by 'trusted influencers.' People readily adopt ideas from those they like and trust. As influencers of students, we could, for example, work with Kei leaders during the Keiweek. According to the theory, people are most open to changing eating habits when they come into a new environment. That's why we think it can be effective to approach students during the Keiweek.

There is also an app that can help people with information; the app maps out how much 'emission' certain foods produce. Finally, as a 'prototype,' we talked to the coordinator of Edanz, a sort of alternative center, to see if we could hold cooking classes for students there. They responded enthusiastically: let's give it a try!

That's one of the things that makes this hackathon so fun; you start with nothing, and suddenly you have something concrete that the Municipality of Groningen probably will use. You're really doing it for a purpose.

When we started, I had the prejudice that the municipality might be conservative and not open to new ideas, but that turned out not to be the case at all. They responded very openly, pleasantly, and enthusiastically to our input. They gave us a lot of trust, so we are curious to see what happens next.'

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Final presentation of the Hackathon. Photos: Marco in ‘t Veldt
Last modified:04 June 2024 4.16 p.m.
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