The purpose of research and education is not just to train valuable professionals, but also to be meaningful to society. The Impact on Society theme team explored the role the organisation and ICT play in society and how we can contribute to a better world.
Theme team member Monique Vissers: “There are two main directions to explore in our activities. The first is impact awareness. If you don’t develop software in a conscious way, it can have a negative impact on society. How do you prevent that? And the second is positive impact: How can we use ICT to contribute to solutions for sustainable development goals (SDGs)? We achieved impressive results in both pillars.
Integration in the curriculum
Monique: “We have integrated a great deal of social awareness into the curriculum. That way, our students are exposed to thinking from a social perspective and they reflect on their roles as professionals. We offer the SDG challenge in the starting semester. Students are introduced to the SDG philosophy and get to work on conceiving and achieving an ICT solution for one or more SDGs. In addition, we have introduced Fix U, a work/learning concept that entails students spending a week working in groups on a solution for a societal challenge. And they can make use of so-called ‘expert cards’ for every ICT development. Technology Leaders like Elon Musk and Edward Snowden ask critical questions on these cards. This helps students reflect on the development and make ideas better and richer.”
Tool and platform
Rens van der Vorst, theme team member: “In addition to offering projects, we looked for ways to increase the awareness of students. We introduced TICT, or the Technology Impact Cycle Tool for this (www.tict.io). This is an online tool that students can use to ascertain the impact of their software/hardware on society. For example, is it addictive? And does it make us better people? Over 1,600 projects within Fontys and beyond have already been analysed using the TICT. A valuable tool.
In addition, the successful methodologies, projects, games and models for social awareness have been collected on ipfor.tech. This platform (live since 1 July 2023) offers all the materials and inspiration that employees, students and the outside world can use. Ipfor.tech therefore showcases Fontys ICT as an international knowledge organisation for the design of technology with a positive impact.” To find out more: see ipfor.tech
Monique: “Our theme has also been given a physical space, the Impact Lab in the TQ building. This is a place where development teams can speak to one another face-to-face, where they can find inspiration in books and quotes, and where they can evaluate the impact of their ideas and developments using games designed by the theme team. We would like to set up an Impact Lab at every site.”