Promoting Innovation in Universities: RSU Continues Collaboration with MIT
To promote the creation and use of innovations in higher education, Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) continues its collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and its educational laboratory J-WEL (Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab). The lab is an initiative to enhance collaboration with world universities and other international partners and promote excellence and transformation in education globally.
A major part of the cooperation with MIT is a training programme for Latvian higher education experts, business and government executives. It is being implemented in several phases, training more than sixty participants over three years and creating a competence centre for higher education with the aim of promoting innovation in education and the transfer of international experience.
On 11 November, the first 17 participants received their certificates for completing the training programme. These were part of a pilot group that started their training in March this year. Among them were three representatives from RSU - Daiga Behmane, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare, Liene Ņikitina-Zaķe, Director of the Research Department, and Ieva Šlēziņa, Director of the Medical Education Technology Centre (METC). The training programme includes participation in international webinars, access to the MIT Horizon digital content library and the J-WEL materials library, training in EdX’s online courses on innovation and education management, and participation in the MIT J-WEL Centre’s international workshops on education and digitisation management.
MIT Lab, a platform for innovation in higher education, is being set up in Latvia. The lab's main direction over the next few years is to research, pilot, and implement ideas for teaching excellence.
It will be an environment where academics, business representatives, and education policy makers will work together to develop new and modern education programmes. One of the important tasks is to introduce simulation as a thesis topic for PhD students. This would develop simulation-based education, introduce new innovations in the simulation process and raise awareness of the place of simulation in postgraduate study programmes.
As part of this collaboration, lecturers from MIT, Dr Anjali Sastry and Prof. John Brisson gave a guest lecture on The Importance of Failing Smart for Innovation and Education Management on 10 November, in the Boris Teterev Auditorium at the RSU METC.
Dr Sastry's lecture focused on analysing potential errors and failures during innovation. ‘Failures are an integral part of the process and need to be anticipated early on,’ explained Dr Sastry, Head of the J-WEL Faculty and Associate Dean for Open Learning. Her expertise and research focus on educational innovation and how this is applied in academic, public administration, and business environments. She is the author of numerous scientific publications and is active in various public organisations.
Prof. Brisson also explored the topic of failure and explained how to distinguish process-enhancing and useful failures from dangerous and unhelpful ones. Brisson is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and the J-WEL Higher Education Advisory Committee Chair. His research involves new discoveries in engineering, such as cryogenic engineering, thermodynamics, and acoustic compression as a form of medical treatment.
The lecturers’ visit is part of a cooperation programme in Latvia provided and coordinated by Riga Business School. The Ministry of Education and Science is a major contributor to the cooperation with MIT. The training project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Latvia is the first national MIT cooperation partner in the European region.