Fostering creativity, innovation, and wellbeing in Universities

In this article

Dr Mark Hoelterhoff is leading the way in incorporating wellbeing principles in the University curriculum. He leads the “Data Driven Thriving in the University Community” cluster at Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Dr Mark Hoelterhoff, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the School of Health in Social Science, is leading the way in incorporating wellbeing principles in the University curriculum. His research aims to promote positive mental wellbeing, and more specifically, explores how to build resilience at an individual level so that students and staff can thrive in their learning and working environment. He leads the “Data Driven Thriving in the University Community” cluster at Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Learning and resilience

Dr Hoelterhoff collaborated with Dr Jen Ross, Senior Lecturer in Digital Education at Moray House School of Education and Sport, and Future Education fellow at the Futures Institute, about the role of resilience in education through University-wide discussions with staff. Together Dr Hoelterhoff and Dr Ross created a course called ‘Learning and Resilience’, which broadly explores the current landscape of education and how to improve it.

According to Dr Hoelterhoff, the course promotes the principles of intra-personal growth which links with societal change:

“ Intra-personal growth, as in discovering more about yourself and who you are, leads to interpersonal transformation, and ultimately to societal change as we become more able to address the global challenges that we face”.

Building wellbeing into education practices

Dr Hoelterhoff’s research on education and wellbeing looks at how other institutions are successfully implementing frameworks for better education practices. He cites the example of the “Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning” at Georgetown University as a prime example, which supports the integration of wellbeing issues in courses across the university. Incorporating wellbeing into the curriculum has helped enhance academic learning for staff and students, enabling them to be more motivated and engaged in the curriculum.

Dr Hoelterhoff is currently collaborating with Georgetown University on a large-scale data-driven project in order to embed wellbeing and learning at the Futures Institute, and the University more widely. Georgetown University developed the Engelhard Project which represents an innovative approach to integrating student wellbeing issues into academic contexts. The Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning builds on the principles of whole-person education by supporting faculty and campus resource professionals as partners in incorporating health and wellbeing issues into the classroom. This curricular approach enhances academic learning, encourages students to reflect on their attitudes and behaviours, and fosters faculty, staff, and student connections both in and out of the classroom that support students’ engagement in their learning.   

Thriving and resilience in applied space

Dr Hoelterhoff is currently leading the “Data-Driven thriving in the University Community” cluster – a team of researchers, professional services staff, student chaplaincy members and University senior leaders working to bring concepts of thriving and resilience, wellbeing, and living well into an applied space. The team will analyse large-scale data provided by Georgetown University about the implementation of the Engelhard project.

The cluster is also studying both qualitative and quantitative data about the experience of students at the University in order to identify factors that significantly contribute to wellbeing, taking into account the contextual and geographical differences in Scottish and UK academic settings. This research cluster also aims to create a network of academic, support and professional services leaders committed to foster evidence-based strategies of resilience in tertiary education.

Further information

Dr Mark Hoelterhoff’s research profile

MSc Education Futures

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