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Community Garden - Graden of Stories

Community Garden - Garden of Stories is a vibrant initiative located in the heart of the Dichtersbuurt neighborhood, designed to bring residents together through the shared experience of gardening and storytelling. In this communal space, locals gather to plant seeds, nurture plants, and eventually harvest the fruits of their labor. 


Beyond gardening, the project serves as a cultural hub where neighbors cook and share their favorite meals, creating an inviting atmosphere of culinary exchange. Each dish is accompanied by personal stories of migration, inclusion, and diversity, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the varied backgrounds within the community. 


This project not only enhances the local environment but also strengthens the social fabric of Dichtersbuurt by celebrating the unique experiences and rich cultural heritage of its residents.

Athena - Research and Education Institute, Connecting science and society for a better tomorrow


Athena believes that science should actively contribute to a healthy, inclusive and sustainable world. As a scientific research and education institute, studying and designing science-society interfaces, we are pursuing this vision by analysing and integrating diverse perspectives and enabling joint action.



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Community engagement and art-based pedagogy


‘The 'art piece' played a unique role in the course, serving as a universal communicative tool that transcends language, culture, and social barriers” (student).


Our rapidly evolving society presents many complex and persistent sustainability that are dynamic and affect and involve many stakeholders with different values, perspectives and needs (Bernstein, 2015). There is increasing pressure on higher education to contribute to addressing these complex issues, as well as training our future professionals (Ramley, 2014). This requires new and experimental approaches to teaching (Tijsma et al., 2023). We present a case study of interconnectedness between community engagement via street art practice in higher education curriculum. Our work showcase several pathways how the non-traditional approach facilitated unexplored opportunities for experiential learning in higher education setting.


As part of the Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning course (iCSL, Athena Institute, n.d.), in November and December 2023, 16 master students from different backgrounds and disciplines focused on real-world challenges, related to urban transitions in local neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. To support the students in this journey, at the beginning of the course the students visited Street art museum Amsterdam (SAMA) to gain more insights about the street art as a science communication approach. SAMA as a community-based, contemporary eco-museum applies street art as a tool for dialogue between stakeholders (SAMA, n.d.) and thus holds several case studies for the students to be inspired by. During the course, students joined a session facilitated by SAMA artist where they in groups made several art-pieces which were applied as conversation starters during a Students and Society in Dialogue Festival (2023).


After the interactions with SAMA, students engaged in self-reflection assignments which serve as a primary element of our analysis. Three main themes emerged from the analysis, namely, street-art was viewed from the students point of view as a bridge of (cultural) differences, as contributor to Team building, and to incite new perspectives/values. The authors also noticed the crucial element of the situational factor which in this case was the community partner, namely, SAMA. The results indicate various values generate by engaging with street art as a tool for knowledge exchange thus going beyond the standard competency framework.

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