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Master’s students will solve challenges for organisations

25 master’s students from various study programmes will come together in the new course OpenLab this autumn. The students will be collaborating interdisciplinary on real tasks from external actors.

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Masterstudentene blir trent i å jobbe i prosess og i å samarbeide på tvers av fagbakgrunn. (Illustrasjon: Colourbox)
The master’s students will be trained in working and developing continuously and interdisciplinary collaboration. (Stock photo: Colourbox)

From 2018, the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Agder (UiA) offers the interdisciplinary course OpenLab. The course lets master’s students from different fields and disciplines meet, such as nursing, engineering, finance, organisation theory and sociology. Together, they will create solutions for complex challenges from external organisations, like Kristiansand municipal council and the Hospital of Southern Norway.

James Karlsen, associate professor at the Department of Working Life and Innovation.

James Karlsen, associate professor at the Department of Working Life and Innovation.

“In a process of co-creation, the students will be working together and with the organisations who have given them the tasks. The experience of being a part of working in an interdisciplinary process is the most important gain for the students,” says James Karlsen, associate professor at the Department of Working Life and Innovation. He looks forward to guiding the students in the course which is one of the efforts in UiA’s priority area Community Involvement and Innovation. 

“The students will be trained in working and developing continuously, organising themselves as a team, analysing and collaborating to create solutions for real challenges. They will also have to deal with uncertainty and time pressure. These are skills they could greatly benefit from having in their working life,” says Karlsen.

Contemplation and theory

The course will take place during the autumn semester of 2018, and 25 students will be accepted. The students will be chosen based on their letter of motivation and interview among other things. The application closing date is 15 May.

Read more about OpenLab and the master’s programmes where the course is an option

“We are looking for students with different profiles and expertise, and we encourage anyone who is interested to seize the opportunity,” says Karlsen.

The students will have the option of working in their very own room on campus, and they will also be at the organisation they are working for.

“There will be times for concrete solutions and for joint contemplation. The students can connect this to theory and their own academic development,” says Karlsen.

A valuable opportunity

The purpose of OpenLab is both educating innovative people and testing a model for co-creation of knowledge at UiA.

Silje Holteberg, karriereveileder ved UiA Karriere. (Foto: Helene Røiseland)

Silje Holteberg, karriereveileder ved UiA Karriere. (Foto: Helene Røiseland)

“We highly welcome this initiative and hope the students see what a valuable opportunity this is. They get to work with realistic issues in regional organisations. That is worth a lot on a CV or for building a network,” says Silje Holteberg. She works as a career counsellor at UiA Career which is working to connect students with their future career. 

“OpenLab is a great opportunity for students to get to know their own expertise by meeting other students from different fields. You can learn a lot about teamwork, methodology and the value of interdisciplinary collaboration,” says Holteberg.

She emphasises that the ability to collaborate is a skill many employers are looking for.

“Many organisations and companies are focusing on innovation, development and new ideas, and this often happens in interdisciplinary groups. Students have a lot to offer in the working life, and the experiences from OpenLab may prove valuable when they are going to apply for positions,” she says.

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