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This study describes an approach to learning and teaching that is structured as a project-based context-driven inquiry. The approach is positioned at the interface between knowledge-generation and use, and grounded in a generic notion of responsibility for the future of bodily life. The intention is to move the debate beyond the exhausted language of rigid oppositions between the academic and vocational, the universal and contextual. The purpose is to identify and nurture a personal portfolio of competencies responding to the contemporary material condition of humanity. It is expressed in terms of the student's learning power, a manifold of new assessment criteria and methodological steps constitutive of what a student could achieve having progressed through a given course. This is an approach in which competencies are outcomes supported rather than led by subject knowledge. The course structure combines traditional instruction with innovative project and assessment components and also provides an opportunity for the student to get acquainted with an employment niche. The practical applications of this approach at university and secondary-school levels have led to encouraging results for both staff and learners.