UU puts secondary education teachers in the spotlight

Geography teacher Tim Schuring is the Alumnus of the Year

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Alumnus of The Year Tim Schuring. Photo: DUB/ Irem Zoodsma

This year, UU's faculties requested the university not to give the title of Alumnus of the Year to yet another celebrity, but rather to use the award to honour graduates who go on to teach at the secondary school level instead. In their view, this would be a nice gesture, given the major shortage of teachers at that level in the Netherlands. Each faculty nominated a graduate who is now making a difference by giving high schoolers inspiring and progressive classes.

The jury, chaired by Marjan Minnesma, one of the winners of the award, agreed with the faculties and chose Tim Schuring, who has a Bachelor's degree in Geography and a Master's degree in Earth Surface & Water. He also followed a Master's in education to qualify as a Geography teacher at the secondary school level. He's been teaching Geography since 2020 at Bonifatiuscollege, in Utrecht. He is also an employee at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, where he trains teachers in Physical Geography and teaches didactics applied to Geography. At UU, he's participated in the junior summer school.

The jury describes Schuring as a ray of sunshine who is passionate about education and Geography. He has developed a signature style that inspires and excites both pupils and colleagues. He is known among geographers for his "culinary geography", which deploys homegrown culinary samples that elucidate geographic notions and processes.

Schuring accepted the award by saying that he was already interested in teaching as a student. He even told one of his teachers, Wim Hoek, that work groups could be a little bit more dynamic, which landed him a job as a student assistant. An entire high school class from Bonifatius was present at the ceremony. They raised signs saying "our man Tim" when he was announced as the winner.

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The jury's report also states that he takes his students on trips around Utrecht aboard an open-top bus, to show them geographic phenomena and planning examples. He also takes them to Texel to study the island's landscape using drones. Moreover, he organises virtual excursions as an alternative to fieldwork and points out misconceptions in the lyrics of pop songs that use geographic terms.

Schuring is also involved with Geo Future School (GFS), a secondary school track where pupils discuss the biggest challenges of our society, such as climate change, healthcare, globalisation, energy, water, cities and geopolitics. This is a cross-curricular endeavour in collaboration with companies and institutions. Schuding is a teacher, a module developer, and a regional coordinator, helping other schools develop their own modules. Within the Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG)c, he organises so-called "teach meetings", where teachers exchange ideas to improve education further.


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UU's Alumnus of the Year award aims to demonstrate the importance of UU alumni in society. To win this honour, an Alumnus must contribute to the progress of their field and dare to go off the beaten track. They must also be a socially committed person who will inspire current student. Previous Alumni of the Year include Marjan Minnesma (2015), Feike Sijbesma (2016), Cathelijne Broers (2017), Jan Beuving (2018), Rutger Bregman (2020), Marion Koopmans (2021) and Eva González Pérez (2022).