Students share their impressions of the micro think-tanks

11. 12. 2020

Students share their impressions of the micro think-tanks

The three micro think-tank sessions of the 4EU+ Annual Meeting, dedicated to the topics of mobility, 4EU+ contribution to Europe and synergy between research and teaching, were co-chaired by students. Here's what they had to say about the discussions.

Micro think-tank #1: Just Wishful thinking? The claim of synergy between research and teaching in 4EU+

Chairs: Dr. Anne Sommer (Heidelberg University), Janathan Juarez Altuzar (Student representative, Heidelberg University)

Wilhelm von Humboldt believed that the unity between research and teaching is the most basic element of scientific studies. Nowadays, his legacy continues living in Germany’s educational system and vision of the 4EU+ alliance.

As a student and member of this alliance, I believe in this. I believe in the nexus between research and teaching/learning. I believe that we can all learn from each other along with education, discipline and interdisciplinary cooperation among partner universities.

The 2020 4EU+ Annual Meeting and the micro think tank 1 (MTT1) was full of new ideas, as together with Dr. Anne Sommer we chaired the MTT1: “Just Wishful thinking? The claim of synergy between research and teaching in 4EU+” with approximately 30 participants. As learning outcomes, participants are now able to formulate their own personal vision of the synergy between research and teaching/learning, how to implement research-based learning at their universities and reflect the role of the 4EU+ in promoting the synergy.

Personally, as a PhD candidate, one of the most important and exciting outcomes of the MTT1 was the agreement among participants from all six universities that students should be more engaged in research. That the nexus between research and teaching should be systematic and across all disciplines, with examples widely publicized, so we can all learn from it. However, one of the main challenges towards this vision would be finding innovative ways to engage students in research, for example while they are still in their bachelor studies.

We believe together, that the 4EU+ can make a difference with regard to this obstacle by helping to overcome cultural differences, promoting interdisciplinary research and enhancing scientific communication/outreach, among others.

Janathan M. Juarez-Altuzar, PhD candidate in Biology, Heidelberg University

Micro think-tank #2: 4EU+ and Europe: Can 4EU+ make us better Europeans? Can 4EU+ strengthen Europe? And should it? If yes, how?

Chairs: Prof. Anna Wojtyś (University of Warsaw), Dr. Eliška Tomalová (Charles University), Eliška Černovská (Student representative, Charles University)

First of all, it needs to be highlighted that students were invited to 4EU+ micro think-tanks. I find the bottom-up approach towards building a European University as an essential step for creating a university close to students, close to Europeans. In the micro-think tank about 4EU+ and Europe, we discussed what the alliance can bring to students and how it can strengthen Europe, European citizenship, and Europeanness per se. Listening to and sharing perspectives on these issues was enriching and broadened my horizons. The debate confirmed to me how important it is to talk to people from different countries and cultures to get to know Europe and its citizens, our neighbours. The discussion about 4EU+ courses on Multilingualism and European citizenship again highlighted the need for active students´ engagement: the need to let students teach their native languages to their peers or to build the European citizenship course based on debates among students. I believe that building a European university through enhancing understanding, open-mindedness, and tolerance will educate Europeans and highlight the same values we all share.

Eliška Černovská, PhD candidate in European Studies, Charles University

Micro think-tank #3: Mobility, connectivity, exchange: Which mix of modes cooperating within 4EU+ works best? What can be gained by certain modes? And what is lost?

Chairs: Prof. Roberto Cerbino (University of Milan), Kristian Petersen (University of Copenhagen), Brett Doerksen (Student representative, University of Milan)

I was thrilled to participate in the micro think-tank. As a medical student, I feel as though the main focus of my program is on studying and developing clinical skills. In this instance, I had the opportunity to do something outside the box, which I jumped at.

After viewing the topics of the 3 micro think tanks, I was immediately drawn to that of Mobility, Connectivity and Exchange. My motivations were twofold; I myself had an exchange program cancelled this year, but I also firmly believe that these topics are more relevant than ever today. We need to develop strong, sustainable mobility plans now, in order to guarantee these opportunities for future students.

While the prevailing sentiment was that physical mobility cannot be fully replaced by virtual mobility, our participants stressed the unique benefits and flexibility provided by the latter. The consensus was that, moving forward, a blended experience is likely the best option. However, this requires revitalization of the virtual component to make sure it’s of the highest quality. In other words, get creative! There are many ways to build a community without a classroom, including buddy programs, online events before mobility, and even incorporating breakout rooms during classes to facilitate interaction. The latter is actually a tried, tested, and proven method: we used this approach in our micro think-tank. I felt as though it really fostered participation and the exchange of ideas, and seeing this idea in action will be one of the big takeaways for me from this experience.

Brett Doerksen, student in Medicine, University of Milan