MORSE Research Day 2024

On Monday 29 of January, MORSE hosted the annual MORSE Research Day, at SBE premises. During the event, MORSE presented new initiatives, such as the  Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab (MILL) Project, welcomed Prof Igor Mayer to deliver an inspiring guest lecture on the rise of digital twins, hosted its 2024 Thesis Award Ceremony, and finished with a New Year reception and networking.

This year, the event marked a pivotal event for MORSE, as it was meant shape the future trajectory of the community,  including the progress and role of the themes, new initiatives such as the  Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab (MILL) Project, research contributions and present or new collaborations.  

The event kicked off with a welcome lunch, which offered the opportunity for participants to network, interact, and was followed by themes brainstorming sessions, split in break-out rooms facilitated by the MORSE Executive Board. This was a key part of the agenda of the day, as it gave themes members the opportunity to discuss about how MORSE could best support their work and to collect new ideas for initiatives and activities they want to organize. 


Guest lecture on the rise of digital twins

Prof. Igor Mayer of Breda University of Applied Sciences and  Tilburg University delivered an inspiring guest lecture on the rise of digital twins and the possibilities this new technology offers for educational and research purposes. 
In a presentation filled with impressive graphics that would make any tech-optimist enthusiastic, professor Mayer also cautioned the audience not to go overboard. Digital twins are potentially useful, but we risk understudying and underemphasising the crucial aspects that are a lot less suitable for digitisation. It is easy to represent artefacts, like a windmill, when the system boundaries are clear and the blueprints are literally available because the artefact was human designed and then built on that design in the real world. A digital twin can then represent that artefact accurately and completely. You may even argue that the real world manifestation of the windmill is actually a metal twin of the digital object of which it is a copy. This is much harder, if not impossible, with ecosystems that have evolved their rich, chaotic and complex diversity over billions of years of co-evolution. A digital twin of the ocean, or a river, or even an ant, will inevitably be a simplification of the original and we may well overlook highly relevant but perhaps less easy to quantify and digitise aspects of the ecosystem. The same is true for complex social systems, such as organisations, cities or nations. We are very used to giving disclaimers and carefully nuancing our results when we use mathematical or statistical models. They too are simplifications and we are trained to handle them with care. Similar caution is needed when working with digital twins. They can be very useful to engage students and stakeholders in their learning or training environment. And this can be a powerful tool in higher education. But only because we have invented a hammer, that does not mean that all problems become nails. Professor Mayer’s warnings were well received and will guide future work in the Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab (MILL) as well as our use of digital technology in research and education.

If you have missed this lecture, you can watch the video at this link

morse research day pic 5

The Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab (MILL) initiative

The  Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab (MILL) project is one of the new initiatives of MORSE. During the event, Prof Mark Sanders and MILL team members presented the project, its objectives and the pilots. 

Problem Based Learning is in the DNA of Maastricht University. This approach to learning intends to motivate and engage learners by organising the learning process around real world problems and challenges. With modern visualization techniques and new cognitive psychological insights, we can now take that approach to the next level. 

The Maastricht Immersive Learning Lab is a project that aims to develop immersive learning techniques in which learners will experience and interact instead of hear and read about the problems they face. Immersive learning takes the learner inside the problem or challenge at hand and thus creates an engaging learning environment in which approaches to solving the problem or addressing the challenge are experienced rather than instructed. Of course, reflection on the observed play and repeated interactions help cement the learning experience. In the MILL, teaching courses thus takes on a whole new meaning. Educators will design and supervise carefully prepared, research based scenario’s in which the learners play out their assigned parts and thereby acquire the knowledge and skills required to act in response to real(istic) challenges. Academic and Post-graduate education can thus become more effective and engaging, while the same tools may help professionals engage with non-professionals to train for eventualities in a much more engaging and effective way. 

This will help Maastricht University researchers become more effective in training responsible leaders that build resilient organisations contributing to a more sustainable society.

MORSE Thesis Award 2023

The last appointment on the MORSE Research Day agenda was the MORSE Thesis Award Ceremony. Also this year, MORSE has awarded excellent theses on MORSE related topics that will have impact on the society. 

Overall, MORSE received seven nominations of impressive theses and the jury compiled a shortlist based on the theses’ fits to the MORSE themes and their potential impact.

The winner of the MORSE Best BSc.-Thesis Award was Muji Dante Maceo Jungbauer whose bachelor thesis tackled the Influence of community banks on the economic resilience of US counties to natural disasters. 
The two runner-ups were Kim Meijerink, who wrote about Unraveling the Complexity of Economic Development and Environmental Degradation Insights from Sub-Saharan African Countriesand and Mees van Dartel with a thesis on China in Central Eastern Europe: Vulnerability Risk and Economic Growth. 

The winner of the MORSE Best MSc.-Thesis Award was Kristina Wollenhaupt whose master thesis investigated on What drives investors to back sustainability-oriented ventures in equity-based crowdfunding? An investigation of different investor types. The two runner-ups were Jonathan Ambrogi who wrote about Innovation at Altitude: Drivers and Impact of Social Innovation across the Italian Alps and Sebastian Rosner who wrote about Examining the importance of climate relevance in secondary school students’ career choice. 

After the Thesis Award Ceremony, we closed the event with the MORSE New Year Reception, with drinks and bites, and a chance to network with the other participants to welcome the fourth MORSE year!

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