* The LUMES effect! *

Posted on December 16, 2011


Main Findings from the LUMES-Effect Making Change Happen-Project

Six of us from batch 14, wanted to investigate what we call the “LUMES-effect”. We wanted to gain a better understanding of what capabilities and skills LUMES enhances and what factors contribute to this personal development. We conducted a survey of all LUMES alumni (batches 1 through 13). In order to get a more comprehensive understanding of the LUMES effect, we decided to conduct 17 in-depth interviews with LUMES alumni to complement the survey, with a deeper appreciation of LUMES alumni’s personal experiences in relation to our research questions.


Enhanced Capabilities and the Factors Behind

136 responded to the survey and the results show that sustainability knowledge, understanding complexity, passion about the environment, and ability to work in a group were the four most important capabilities that LUMES enhanced while technological skills were rated as the least enhanced capability. Respondent suggested additional capabilities that they felt LUMES enhanced; some of those commonly stated were desire to make a sustainable change, self-improvement, and environmental awareness. The respondents rated the international diversity, friendship, group work and interdisciplinary of students as the most important factors that enhanced and developed their capabilities. The in-depth interviews supported these result; alumni stated the importance of interactions with classmates. It appears that the LUMES alumni learned almost as much from each other as they did from the teachers. These enriching interactions with classmates inside and outside class allow for further reflections and deeper understanding of the complex sustainability issues. The LUMES alumni highlighted the importance of diversity in strengthening the richness and quality of individual experiences. There was concern that the overall diversity might diminish due to the introduction of Swedish tuition fees, and therefore; additional effort should be placed on preserving the quality of interactions.




Agents of Change and Satisfaction with Studies

82.7% of the respondents felt that they were able to link the knowledge they gained in LUMES to their professions (to a great extent or somewhat). Overall 80.3% of the respondents said that they felt prepared for their first job or academic experience (to a great extent or somewhat). The overall satisfaction with the programme was high at 89.7% (satisfied or very satisfied). This means that people who responded that LUMES only prepared them “somewhat” to “very little” for their working life still felt satisfied with the programme. The primary explanation for this positive experience was the quality of the people involved in the LUMES program, including classmates, professors, supervisors and administrators. The in-depth interviews supported these results as they felt that LUMES was a truly unique program that created a higher level of awareness that prepared them well for life after the program.

Synthesis of the Results

The scheme bellow has been developed to synthesize our findings from the survey and the in-depth interviews. The LUMES effect is defined as the enhancement of capabilities which the LUMES student experiences through the LUMES program. The causing factors within the LUMES program are defined as the causes of the enhancement in capabilities. The importance of the interactions of people based on our results puts it in the center of the LUMES-programme. The interactions from different activities such as group work, friendship and leisure activities as well as lectures and readings can be seen as the interaction with the knowledge of people. The working environment is defined as the post-LUMES professional activities; this is the environment where alumni can link knowledge to action.



“Working in groups was important to me since I learned to agree to disagree on certain issues but still see the other person’s point. I got the bigger picture about life and problems and a more holistic view by looking at systems analysis linking smaller problems to create a bigger scenario.”


“The cross cultural aspect is also important; learning is not done so much in class but more on your own and in groups outside class. You don’t go home at night and not think about your studies.”


“My communication skills improved as well as my presentation skills which is good when you apply for a job. LUMES is also about changing your lifestyle: what can I do on a day to day basis to improve sustainability on a personal level.”


“What LUMES changes is your mind, it’s actually a revolution in your mind.”


The Next Step

We want future students to be able to experience LUMES-programme as a life-changing experience that keeps influencing you throughout life. With these findings we hope to engage in different sub-projects such as mentoring, LUCSUS-LUMES fika and improving the marketing of the program.


Thank you again for your cooperation and assistance in our project!


Who We Are

The LUMES-effect team: Andrea Fiscal (Mexico), Ralf Bilke (Germany), Maggie Melin (USA), Emma Bäck (Finland), Michael Benson (Canada) & Alejandro Eguez (Ecuador).