With Christmas just around the corner, one might think that the slow season of the year is already in full swing. There are, however, many interesting initiatives, projects and international collaborations related to liberal arts in Europe kicking off these days. Here is a short overview of what is currently happening in the last quarter of the year.
BLASTER (Best Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Expanded and Reinforced) was an Erasmus+ strategic partnership between University College Roosevelt (the Netherlands), Leuphana Universität (Germany), Warwick University (UK), University College Leiden (the Netherlands), Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania) and the consortium of European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences - ECOLAS (Slovakia).
The project was supported with over 280.000 EUR from the European Union and run between 01.09.2015 and 30.09.2017. Some general information on BLASTER can be found on the project sheet. BLASTER was specifically designed to enhance the liberal arts in the European higher education scene. Specifically, BLASTER had three aims focusing on development of undergraduate research, learning and teaching, and mapping the landscape of liberal arts. The results include three brochures on those topics, which can be freely accessed on ECOLAS website.
Erasmus+ CREATES project
Leuphana University Lüneburg together with University of Freiburg, King’s College London, University College Maastricht, Sciences Po Paris, and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa have secured Erasmus+ funding for their strategic partnership project CREATES.
The aim of the project is to investigate ways of making student co-create their courses and curricula through various tools supporting student engagement and individual advising. The project would result, among other things, in four “versatile tool-kits for learning practices” that would be further disseminated in the academic community to improve ways of creating more “liberal” studies across Europe.
The project would run from 01.09.2017 to 31.08.2017 and received funding of over 425.000 EUR. More info available on the project sheet and at www.europe-creates.eu. A kickoff meeting for the project took place in Lüneburg in October.
UCDN Alumni Survey in the Netherlands
The University Colleges Deans of the Netherlands (UCDN) met last month to launch an alumni survey for former students of liberal arts programmes in the Netherlands. An estimated number of 9000 alumni from all 10 university colleges will receive the survey and generate data about their current jobs, master degree programmes, the contribution their liberal arts education made to where they are now etc. This would be the first systematic study of liberal arts graduates in Europe. The survey is conducted by an external agency and the results are expected in 2018 - marking 20th anniversary of opening University College Utrecht, the oldest liberal arts programme in the Netherlands.
Liberal Arts+ Network in Birmingham, UK
With 20 running programmes, and 3 more planned to start in 2018, the UK is experiencing a steady growth of liberal arts-inspired programmes in public research universities. Diana Spencer, Professor of Classics and Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences at University of Birmingham, invited her liberal arts colleagues from across the UK to Birmingham in early November, to discuss a potential national liberal arts network called ‘LiberalArts+’. Programme leaders from almost all UK programs attended, and the initial interest would be followed with more meetings in early 2018.
November Expert Days 2017 (#NEXD17) Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg University will host the ‘November Expert Days’ (#NEXD17) on November 23 and 24. The aim is to create a university wide conversation on topics like ‘Liberal Arts’, ‘Studium Generale’, ‘extracurricular activities’ and more. Experts from in- and outside the university are invited for discussions and presentations on these innovative themes. Liberal education features prominently on the conference programme, with both a panel (in German) and a keynote speech by Prof. Teun J. Dekker from University College Maastricht.