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The Ben Feringa Impact Award

Every year, the University of Groningen presents the Ben Feringa Impact Award to UG researchers and students who have made outstanding achievements in the field of knowledge utilization, i.e. who have connected their research to the professional (non-academic) world and/or societal (including economic) practice. The award will demonstrate the University’s appreciation for their exceptional contribution to knowledge utilization.

‘We have an incredible amount of young talent here, full of fantastic ideas. From law to medicine and from spiritual care to the materials of the future. There is a lot to gain by better conveying the applicability of this knowledge,’ says Ben Feringa.

Impact: 'The Good, The Bad, and The Necessary' of Sexual Education

The Good

In this section, topics such as pleasure, masturbation, and forms of sex that can improve one's experience are covered.

The Bad

Here, we provide workshops on sexual harassment, street intimidation, and other forms of deviant sexual behaviour.

The Necessary

Most importantly, we provide preventative care by giving workshops on consent, bystander intervention, STI prevention, and LGBTQ+ inclusvity.

The Interview for the Nomination

Who are you? 

 

We are the Sexual Wellness Education Initiative (SWEI): a 10-person team spearheading the issue of social safety, transgressive behaviour, and students' mental health by providing sexual education to university students. 

Which faculty are you from?

 

SWEI is based at University College Groningen (UCG).

Could you explain what the initiative is about?

 

The Sexual Wellness Education Initiative (SWEI) is an organization that provides a year-round, holistic sexual education curriculum to university students. With workshops, talks, and interactive conversations, our goal is that through education we will be able to combat transgressive behaviour, improve student health, and protect student wellbeing. We are doing this by bridging the gap between experts in the field and students, to fill the current knowledge gap. The Sexual Wellness Education Initiative is a dynamic organization by and for students that continuously improves and enhances the sexual education programme provided. Therefore, we are working hard to contribute this essential piece to the puzzle of student health and wellbeing.

SWEI covers ‘the Good, the Bad, and the Necessary’ of sexual education in its curriculum. The ‘Necessary’ contains workshops on consent, LGBTQ+ topics, STIs, and sexual health. The ‘Bad’ involves workshops on catcalling, sexual assault, and harassment. Lastly, the ‘Good’ includes talks on pleasure, porn, and BDSM. On top of this, SWEI organizes parties throughout the year to provide a fun, safe, and comfortable environment for participants. With a trained awareness team and a space where everyone can be themselves, SWEI hopes to show how party culture can change to accommodate an enjoyable night for all students.

What made the research impactful and how does society benefit from your research?

 

At the start and end of every year, SWEI conducts research by sending out a Faculty-wide questionnaire to test the level of knowledge before and after the sexual education provided during the academic year. Also, feelings on social safety, numbers on transgressive behaviour, mental health measurements, and more are asked of all students at the UCG. This provides an accurate picture of the current and improved state of the student body with SWEI present at the Faculty.

What was your motivation to conduct this research and what did you learn?

 

Everyone in the team has their reasons for being part of the initiative; however, the common goal of combatting transgressive behaviour, bettering students' mental health, and working towards closing the knowledge gap is shared amongst all of us. The birth of SWEI followed from four students sharing their concerns for the social safety of all students living in the shared housing provided in the first year at the UCG during the COVID-19 pandemic. From this, a proposal grew to become the Sexual Wellness Education Initiative, which is now an established part of the education provided at the UCG.

Watch the Ben Feringa Impact Award nomination video here!
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