A healthy campus with its own strawberries

Are we going to make TU/e the world's most energetic campus, and if so, how? This was the question that was answered during the Vitality Week by more than a hundred employees and students in brainstorming sessions held in TU/e innovation Space. Of the 824 ideas collected, the most fun and feasible will be realized shortly or over the longer term.

photo Norbine Schalij

The idea of making the campus more energetic than it already is had occurred to director of Strategic Area Health Carmen van Vilsteren in the past. “A great deal has already been done here and there, but as yet there's no integrated approach at TU/e,” she says. “Vitality Week proved an ideal opportunity to request input from the people who ‘have to do it’.”

During four breakfast sessions in TU/e innovation Space groups of about thirty employees and students offered hundreds of ideas and from these a plan was developed that was presented at Friday lunchtime.

When are you an energetic campus? It takes more than just going to work by bike or taking a walk in the lunch break. So on Tuesday attention was paid to the social and mental aspects. How do you get motivated, what are you hoping to achieve, how do you gain a balance between work pressure and relaxation, what are your personal habits as far as your own vitality is concerned?

Your - immediate and wider - surroundings also play a role. That's why the discussion on Wednesday focused on the influence you have on campus, on your own workspace or building. Thursday was devoted to technology and how this can be used to help us live and work with greater vitality.

A selection of the plans:

  • Organize meatless Mondays
  • Let employees pick their own strawberries and other fruit for smoothies
  • More office gardens
  • Turn the Flux field into a sports field
  • Hold email-free weekends
  • Shift the deadline set by professors from midnight to earlier in the evening
  • Tweak.work for students and employees

To explain that last point: Ida Damen is a PhD candidate at Industrial Design and is studying the vitality of office workers. She is particularly interested in the integration of physical exercise in work. She has developed tweak.work. “This involves using dynamic health profiles of the student and employee in order to post suggestions for vitality improvements in their diaries. This is a personalized approach and takes account of their environment, how busy they are, the weather and a lot more factors. The pilot is been completed, and now we are looking at whether a larger study is possible. It fits well with the initiative to make the campus more energetic.”

The exact goal, the perfect slogan and the order in which to do things all need to be given more thought by the core team, but they want to start by organizing a Vitality Week for students and increasing awareness of vitality. Van Vilsteren is enthusiastic, “We've already been introduced to the first one hundred ambassadors (read: participants in the brainstorming sessions) this week.”

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