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eFocus Education February 2013

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Designing joint programmes and curricula

Since the very first universities were founded, higher education has benefited enormously from sharing ideas between countries and cultures. The EU's programmes for higher education cooperation recognise this, both within Europe, and between Europe and other parts of the world. We look at the different ways in which non-European partners contribute to projects in three such programmes.

Erasmus Mundus joint programmes with scholarships

A SUFONAMA field assignment
A SUFONAMA field assignment

There are currently 138 Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses and 43 Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorates selecting candidates to start their studies or research in 2013/2014. Topics range from astrophysics to medieval literature and from nanotechnology to choreography.

Consortia offering the course must feature at least three European HEIs, but beyond this can involve more institutions from Europe or elsewhere. Some 200 non-EU institutions feature among the project partners: they often play a role in delivering specific course modules, or hosting field research.

One example is SUFONAMA - Sustainable Forest and Nature Management - a research-based MSc in sustainable forestry resources management, coordinated by the University of Copenhagen with partners in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK. Associate partners with broad forestry research and teaching programmes from Australia, Canada, Chile and South Africa are also involved. "These partners provide locations and supervision for student thesis Sufonama Logoprojects, and add expertise in different types of forestry research that we cannot provide here in Northern Europe," explains Anne-Grethe Lehmann Routley, who manages study & student affairs.  SUFONAMA also makes use of the special scholarships provided under Erasmus Mundus to invite scholars – many from outside the EU - to help design and deliver teaching modules and prepare joint research proposals.

Project Website: http://www.sufonama.eu/

Tempus – developing curricula

A project training event at the National University of Ireland in Galway
A project training event at the National University of Ireland in Galway

The Tempus project, 'Service Learning in the Curricula' aims to establish civic engagement centres in five universities in Jordan and Lebanon, to prepare students for the world of work and to be active citizens. Reformed curricula and improved capacities and infrastructure will increase opportunities for students to participate in service-learning programmes in their communities, as part of their academic course.

Jordanian and Lebanese professors and students are working together with their counterparts in the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Bulgaria, to share experience and best practice in service-learning in the curriculum.

Project Coordinator Michele Lamb, at Roehampton University in the UK, highlights the benefits of this type of learning experience.

Service Learning links academic study and practical experience in the community, so that students spend time on community placements, applyingthe theories and skills they have learned in the classroom in real life tasks. Their experience in the community also provides valuable skills andknowledge: this then feeds back into their academic studies. Staff, too, benefit – they can be invigorated by the renewed enthusiasm of their students; universities benefit from stronger community ties; and communities benefit from the fresh ideas of the students’.

Tawasol LogoGood communication is important in this international context:  ‘Our decision-making processes are consensual and the ‘Tawasol’ (an Arabic word meaning ‘engage, share and interact’) social networking website has been a great way for staff and students to share experience and knowledge’.

She adds, ‘every University has different cultures, procedures and constraints. It’s important to understand this, and work with partner universities individually. One size does not fit all!

Project website: http://www.tawasol.org/

Japanese bring earthquake expertise to a Leonardo vocational training project

Sismile Logo
Japanese learning materials on earthquake safety

Some 260 million EU inhabitants live in regions at risk from earthquakes. Many fatalities and injuries during earthquakes are caused not by falling buildings, but by so-called non-structural elements in a building such as furniture or electrical appliances. The SISMILE project, a Leonardo project for vocational training is creating an eLearning package for furniture workers and manufacturers about design techniques that can reduce these risks. The project – coordinated by the Kanilli Institute for Earthquake Research in Istanbul – brings together a range of European organisations, many in regions prone to earthquakes. Stricter seismic design regulations for new buildings and housing in Japan led this project to bring in specific Japanese expertise, particularly in this field of non-structural hazard (NSH) mitigation.

Hitomi Murakami of the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center explains the role played by his organisation: "There are far more advanced research efforts in Japan for NSH mitigation than in Europe and they have potential to provide good e-learning materials. We help transfer these resources and information from a culturally different perspective"

Japanese learning materials on earthquake safety

Project website: http://sismileproject.com/

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Last update: 21/02/2013  Print | Top of page