New EUC pilot course to create critical world citizens

Recently Ward Vloeberghs, Erasmus University College (EUC) finished the innovation project Critical world citizenship. This innovation project was supported by the Community for Learning and Innovation (CLI)

What’s the project about
In the first half of 2020, EUC organised a pilot course in critical world citizenship set up as an academic exchange with the School of International Relations (SIR) in Tehran, Iran.

The original intent was to travel to Tehran with EUC students first and then host an incoming group of SIR students in Rotterdam. However, like so many others, because of Covid-19, they had to adjust and re-design the exchange programme to fit an online format.

The assignments for this course (5 ECTS) were aimed at learning about each other’s country while at the same time reflecting critically at one’s own society.

Which education difficulties the project will solve
This programme aimed to fill a gap in the EUC curriculum by allowing students to practice critical world citizenship in a secure, academically sound environment that is project-based and representative of their professional future, i.e. marked by human diversity and multiple, apparently contradictory preferences.

What’s the result of the project?
Although more challenging than initially expected, this programme was a genuine exercise in practicing critical world citizenship in a cross-cultural setting for all of us. This experience has been an enhancement of our students’ study programme and will be of value as they progress into their professional careers since they will need their skills as critical world citizens in dealing with colleagues with different views and backgrounds.

Aside from increasing their knowledge about Iran and the Netherlands, students have practiced transferable skills that are unique to implementing a two-way exchange. These skills include communicating critically across cultural boundaries, taking responsibility to organise their own digital classes, and learning to allow others to look critically at their own state and society.

The pilot will continue this year in an online format. In the future hopefully it will turn into a physical exchange.

What students say about the project
“I have nothing but praise for the way this course was taught! I really learned so much from the more informal and horizontal learning relationship that was built between students and teachers.”

“So happy we had such a small class and good open communication with the tutors. Doing things outside of class like the Iranian round table was super fun and I felt it brought a lot of unity to the course.”

“I just enjoyed the way Ward and Jop were part of the exchange process and not just guiding teachers. This caused more of an informal atmosphere in which it was easy to discuss, share thoughts and feelings and to collaborate on the exchange. I really liked that there were two people who could guide us, keeping this format is nice.”

“I feel like I got the feeling that there was so much more to discover, and that is a 'win' in itself”

Did the project help a student or lecturer?
Given the difficulties the participants experienced, Ward is more convinced than before that offering students an opportunity to implement what they learn in an unfamiliar cultural context does add value to the curriculum.

What sets this programme apart from a ‘regular’ course at EUC is the end goal students have been working towards. Instead of working towards an exam or written assignment, their horizon was a practical application of their knowledge and skills in interaction with Iranian peers. As such, this programme provided students a genuine first at exercising what EUC aspires to teach them: becoming critical world citizens.

You can find more information at eur.nl/cli Innovation projects