23 Jul 2018

PEOPLE Project’s Sustainable Solutions Presented in Amsterdam

On 4 and 5 July 2018, PEOPLE project (Erasmus +, Knowledge Alliances) organised the first Co-Creation Camp in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. R&D teams from Slovenia, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Czech Republic presented their projects on energy efficiency and sustainable development. Representatives of universities and industry, researchers, and students of social sciences and humanities were part of the PEOPLE project’s first Learning Cycle. The aim of the two-day intensive workshop was to discuss and show how social science and humanities approaches can be effectively used in the development of people- and environment-friendly products or services.

The PEOPLE project, coordinated by IRI UL, is introducing an innovative approach to higher education learning and teaching, based on real-life challenges in industry, society, or environment. Problem-based learning is an educational approach where students acquire new skills, learn new content, and test research methods by working on projects, which are practically oriented and based on the needs of the industry or society in general. Learn more about our Real-Life Learning Lab model and how it is introduced at the University of Ljubljana in this short video.

In each of the four PEOPLE project partner countries, we have formed an alliance between an educational institution (university or research organisation) and a company dealing with energy efficiency or sustainable development – in Slovenia, the two partners are ZRC SAZU and company Metronik (see all project partners). The industry partner identifies a business or development challenge that serves as the project team’s case study. In two learning cycles, students of anthropology, sociology, psychology and related fields, along with their academic mentors and industry mentors, test people-centred development approaches, and combine qualitative and quantitative research methods. On the basis of their research, they then prepare guidelines for improving the existing solutions or suggestions for developing new ones. The PEOPLE project thus promotes the exchange of knowledge between industry and universities and at the same time enables students to acquire new (industry-relevant) skills. In addition, they gain valuable experience by participating in interdisciplinary development teams and by working with industry development teams. One of the key objectives of the project is also to promote the employment of graduates of social sciences and humanities in non-academic environments – in industry, public sector, or non-governmental organisations.

Three students from the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and a student of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana participated in the PEOPLE project’s first learning cycle in Slovenia. The activities were conducted within the ECTS-accredited extracurricular activity Real-Life Learning Lab. The starting point of the research was Metronik’s Energy Information System (MePIS Energy), which is installed in the buildings of the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences and the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology as part of the University of Ljubljana’s energy strategy and energy management. By combining ethnography (key anthropological method), questionnaires, focus group interviews, and data mining, the interdisciplinary team studied the influence of the energy information system on energy consumption and on indoor environment in the building, as well as how the building occupants perceive the indoor environment, how they interact with the smart building, and what their values in relation to energy use are. The research and the experience of working in an interdisciplinary project team are presented in this short video.

A special guest at the Co-Creation Camp in Amsterdam was a renowned design anthropologist and psychologist Anna Kirah, who has worked for Microsoft and Boeing during her exciting career. While the first day of the Co-Creation Camp was dedicated primarily to sharing experiences from the first learning cycle in the PEOPLE project and co-creating new knowledge, the second day was also dedicated to presenting the added value of social sciences, people-centred approaches and interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of energy efficiency and sustainable development to the public. The Sustainable Living and Energy: Towards a PEOPLE Perspective event was organised at Amsterdam’s centre of circular economy CIRCL and attended by more than 30 representatives of Dutch companies and experts in the fields of energy efficiency and sustainability. Guest speakers at the event were Dan Podjed (ZRC SAZU and IRI UL) and Anna Kirah (Design Without Borders). See how it went in this short video!


Image cartoon/visualisation from the Sustainable Living and Energy event: Renée van den Kerkhof