Researcher Dr. ir. Rens Kortmann from the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) received the Mekel Prize 2017 for the most socially responsible innovation: Parsifal Playing Fields.
The prize was awarded on 23 November during the Van Hasselt lecture in Museum Prinsenhof. Kortmann was given a statue of Professor Jan Mekel and € 1.500,- euro to spent on further research.

Parsifal Playing Fields is a combination of a serious game and an artistic performance based on Wagner’s Parsifal. Policy games have proven to be more effective than traditional workshops to tackle the Grand Challenges for our society, such as climate change and social exclusion. These are complex problems that require a multitude of different stakeholders to engage and cooperate in order to solve them. Elements from the theatre arts may further enhance their effectiveness by intensifying the embodied experiences of game players. Playing the VR (virtual reality) game induces so called embodied experiences; combining cognitive, affective, and physical experiences. Through the game its players are confronted with their own callousness and selfishness, thus showing how difficult it is to hold on to pro-social values like compassion and collaboration. As a result, the often profoundly affected players reconsidered their values and resolved to improve their behaviour.

This project scored well on all the criteria of the Jury. It addresses a societal challenge, sustainable cities, and does so in a way that empowers many to contribute to this goal. Its design is based on the aim to achieve and stimulate social values while taking into account risks. And the design process was inclusive and transparent. “The jury was particularly impressed by the wide spectrum of possible applications of this innovation as a way to engage citizens in the grand challenges. It would also be interesting to use it in the teaching at TU Delft” says Karel Luyben, chairman of the jury.

About the Mekel Prize

The Mekel Prize is awarded to the most responsible innovation at the TU Delft. Over the past few years, responsible innovation has become a central concern in innovation policy and the funding of R&D programs like the Horizon 2020 and the NWO MVI program. Responsible innovation may be defined as aligning research and innovations with the needs and values of society. With this prize, the university wishes to increase awareness of the ethical aspects of technological developments and emphasise the role of researchers and designers in incorporating these aspects.  As of this year, the Mekel Prize will be awarded to the most responsible innovation at the TU Delft.

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