In June and July 2020, Erasmus University College and the School of International Relations in Tehran (Iran) organised a digital academic exchange programme. Students took the lead in hosting online presentations and discussions on topics themed around governance, society, culture, geopolitics, and economy.
The programme was set up as course (5 EC’s) focused on bringing critical world citizenship into practice, through mobilising EUC students’ knowledge and skills in a real-life cross-cultural setting. The entire course was rooted in 5 important values:
1. Critical world citizenship
2. Cross-cultural communication
3. Genuine two-way exchange
As part of their assignments, EUC students prepared a ‘collaborative reflection’ assignment in which they reflected creatively on one of these five values. They did so by presenting a short video or spoken word item in which, together with one of their Iranian peers, they addressed what this value means for them, how this value matters to them, and where they encountered it within the programme.
Overall, we learned a lot about Iran and the Netherlands. But, crucially, all of us -students and staff- learned that, though not always easy, there is true value in exercising critical world citizenship in such a complex setting. This experience has been a genuine enhancement of students’ study programme and will be of great value in their professional careers when dealing with unexpected obstacles.
This exercise of critical world citizenship will not remain a one-time experiment. Though the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely prohibit travelling to Iran for the entire academic year of 2020/2021, there will be a second edition of the SBS 324 course with a digital exchange programme planned for quad 3 and 4.