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  • Writer's pictureMeghann Ormond

What do students take from a course into the real world?

'The course... gives you the tools to make you think deeper... You will have to question how you've been looking at things before... It will pay off... because with every piece you write, with every piece you read, in every conversation... you will be able to really easily but very sensitively understand: "Ah, this is where this person is coming from"... This course influenced my work... I'm actually trying to create these moments that I had back in the course for people who are taking our tours or taking our our workshops today. So, I'm actually using [what I learned in] this [course]... to design for discomfort within safe spaces... to help people question what they think is true' - Fiona Hawes, co-founder of Migrantour Utrecht and alumna of the 'Concepts & Approaches to Tourism, Society & Environment' (GEO 30306) course, part of the MSc Tourism, Society & Environment programme at Wageningen University & Research

As a university educator, I'm used to working with students for a relatively short time - a couple of months for a course, a half a year for a thesis. In that brief window of time I have with them, I feel so incredibly fortunate and humbled to be able to witness and support my students' growth not only as students but also as human beings. That's what still motivates me to do what I do after all these years.


Yet, once students graduate, I don't always have the opportunity to see what they have gone on to do in their lives and which paths they have taken. It's even rarer still to find out from them what sort of impact the things they learned with me and my colleagues may have had on their lives later on.


So, perhaps you can imagine the deep appreciation I feel towards the alumni that wanted to contribute their experience, insight, time and energy to the 'Threads of Thought' video series. 'Threads of Thought' is designed to introduce prospective and current Wageningen University & Research masters students to what alumni take with them from the 'Concepts & Approaches for Tourism, Society & Environment' (GEO 30306) course and how it gets used later on in their professional lives. This course, which exposes students to diverse 'paradigms' - often for the first time, is taken by all MSc Tourism, Society & Environment (MTO) students to better understand how knowledge about tourism is produced. Alumni shared about what their lives are currently like and what they feel they've taken with them from the Concepts and Approaches course into the real world. The perspectives they shared have been an affirmation that this course is doing what it's designed to do: foster an appreciation of the value of multi-perspectivity.


This video series was made by two MTO alumni, sound designer Kristina Mau Hansen and Rodrigo Machado Gecele Castro and developed together with me, the course's long-time coordinator. This series was made possible thanks to funding from Wageningen University & Research's MSc Tourism, Society & Environment programme dedicated to linking what happens in the classroom to real-life experiences in the professional world. A very special thanks to the MTO alumni featured in this series for their thoughtful contributions: Fiona-Marie Hawes, Jordi Vegas Macias, Neringa Kavaliauskaite, Maria Jose Sanchez, Eunice Wangari Muneri, Marisol Espino Penilla, and Joost van Heiningen.


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