The winning project concerned the ongoing housing crisis in Rotterdam, and was created by Psychology students Helena Scharnowski, Liv Ziegfeld and Sissy Jin. The project placed special focus on the housing situation of international students and was inspired by the team’s own struggles with housing, as well as the struggles they had witnessed their fellow students go through. “We noticed that often our friends who experienced serious problems with their landlords just didn’t know what to do about it and who to turn to”, Helena  explains. “And so the problems just wouldn’t get resolved at all.”

During their research, the team reached out to multiple landlords and housing agencies, with varying success, and asked them about their experiences with renting out to students with the intention of creating a comprehensive information document for incoming (international) students to help them navigate the Dutch housing market.

Even though the first Local-to-Global project has been wrapped up, the students’ individual initiative goes on. With the preliminary research they have conducted, the team wishes to contribute to practical solutions for the housing market: such as collaborating with train company NS to offer international students discounts on train tickets to relieve the pressure on the housing market in Rotterdam and other student cities, as well as having official websites of municipalities translate all essential information about housing into English as well. All in all, the students hope that their project can assist future initiatives in handling the housing crisis. “It is important to see how this situation develops in the future.” explains Liv. “We would like to know if the information we provided the students with actually helped them.”

Societal impact

According to Katie Barry, the coordinator of the International Bachelor Psychology at ESSB who initiated the project, the values at the core of Local-to-Global are putting academic theory into practice, and connecting Dutch students with international students. Local-to-Global is also one attempt at living up to the statements about societal impact that the university is frequently making. The project is supposed to continue and expand next year, hopefully with more students from different faculties throughout the university.

After the launch of the project last September, four proposals were initially accepted, which by the end of the year led to two projects that were actually fully in motion. Besides the winning project, another team created a project that regards resiliency amongst youth in Rotterdam South, working together with Feyenoord City on their youth programme.

Of the other two projects, one is still in earlier stages, and another one was sadly interrupted after the tragic passing of Sarah Papenheim, who was part of the team.