Summer Teaching: A Professional Crossroads

Stefan Mandelbaum

Dr Stefan Mandelbaum taught International Commercial Law on King’s Undergraduate Summer School in 2012 and 2013. He is now a Senior Lecturer in International Law at Anglia Ruskin University and a member of the Senate at his institution. 

Teaching for King’s Summer Programmes as a doctoral researcher turned out to be an important crossroad in my academic career. Coming from a strong legal-philosophical background and responding to a 2012 call from the Summer School for module suggestions, I initially proposed a course on “dispute settlement in international investment law”, simply because my doctoral work already focused on this subject matter. During the interview, Summer Programmes put to me that a course on International Commercial Law would give me the opportunity to merge different aspects of international law into one course. While the course development and delivery turned out to be as challenging as preparing a fairly new subject for HE teaching naturally is, the course, with me as a lead tutor in 2012 and 2013, eventually ranked among the most popular courses in the Summer School curriculum. The in-class, organisational and pedagogic challenges which only a summer course poses, together with being involved in considering an audience even before their application  became experiences which have shaped my lecturing style ever since. In the following, I would like to give two examples of the impact my summer school teaching had on my career as a teacher in HE, one concerning the acquired pedagogic skills when dealing with an array of educational and cultural backgrounds in class, the other addressing the direct link between the subject of teaching and my current position.

Peer learning

In both years, the summer module on International Commercial Law cohort consisted of students of very different backgrounds, ranging from first year UG students and Masters students of various subjects to judges and business people. Overcoming this welcomed but also challenging mix of sometimes very different abilities led me to develop an in-class tutoring scheme in which I prescribed an overall task (e.g. case study, moot problem) for all students while appointing the most senior class members as group leaders. This method enabled a study atmosphere where the junior class mates were learning from me and their peers whilst the more advanced students were recognized as leaders and had to learn how to teach what they already knew. While this model of hierarchical participation originated in the diverse composition of an international summer school class, it developed over time into a critical pedagogic method which I have continued using ever since. From good student feedback in my previous years to a 100 percent satisfaction rate in both my King’s summer courses, the facilitation of such an integrative learning environment had led my last semester’s course on “International Commercial Arbitration” to be among the 10 top-scoring classes out of 2.500 at my present institution, Anglia Ruskin University.

Shaping my career

Learning how to cater for the varying abilities and expectations of summer school participants, however, is only one of the pedagogic upshots for my career. The subject of “International Commercial Law”, rather peripheral at the time to my research expertise, has been pivotal in getting the lectureship that I am holding now. My teaching orbits not so much the very specific doctoral topic I was working on (the market for such a position is rather thin) and my first appointment outside King’s College London as well as the leeway to my permanent post now was via a “visiting lectureship” on “Transnational Commercial Law”. I can honestly say that if it would not have been for King’s decision to opt for the ‘commercial side’ of international affairs, I would not teach and do research in this field, and I would not be able to now expand my research collaborations to the business aspects of international sports law or management studies, both of which emerging into cutting edge fields of scholarship.

EAIE 2019 in Helsinki: Summer as a Creative Space

In the coming week, members of King’s Summer Programmes team will be attending the EAIE Annual Conference in Helsinki. In a schedule packed with encounters with partners new and old, King’s Summer Education Programme will form a key part of the wider conference programme.

Dr Alexander Heinz, Associate Director (Research & Innovation), will be speaking on summer schools as a creative space for education; sharing a platform with Nita Kapoor, Director of the University of Oslo Summer School, and Jason Kinnear, Assistant Dean for Study Abroad at UNC Chapel Hill.

As Vice-Chair of the EAIE Summer Schools Expert Community, Dr Heinz will speak at and co-host a summer school health clinic, as well as a large reception for sector professionals.  He will also lead a campfire session for peers from around the world.Together with Lorraine Ishmael-Byers, King’s Associate Director for Disability Support and Inclusion, Dr Heinz endeavours to whet the appetite of other institutions to follow into the footsteps of Dialogues on Disability, a sector-leading programme by King’s, the University of Delhi, Humboldt-University, the Autonomous University of Mexico and others, and to encourage colleagues to think beyond national boundaries about mobility for and policy discussions among disabled students.

Fahema Ettoubi, Academic Services Manager, and Emma Carlile, Assistant Programme Development Manager, will attend EAIE for the first time and will be available to meet with partners and members of the wider international education community.  Both look forward to showcasing King’s Summer Programmes portfolio to current partners but also new institutions, enabling us to stand out from the crowd.

Ten Years of Summer at King’s: A Pivotal Space

Professor Soelve I. Curdts, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, and Visiting Lecturer at King’s in July 2010, reflects on the value of transitionality.

Incredibly, almost a decade has passed since I taught at King’s Undergraduate Summer School in 2010. The experience turned out to be pivotal in ways I could not have foreseen at the time, and its layers grow more multifarious with each passing year. In fact, such layering over time is one of the things we – hopefully – share with our students beyond the subjects we happen to be teaching.

Arrivals and Departures

For me, 2010-2011 was a time of transition. I had studied and taught in Germany, France, and the United States, and was in the process of contemplating where to go next, both literally and metaphorically. The world was all before me – a prospect that filled me with a sense of uncertainty, to be sure, but also of exhilaration. The latter was fostered both by London as a pivotal space, and by the Summer School at King’s College London as a place that brought together scholars, teachers, and students who reflected on (their) transitionality in intellectually stimulating and productive ways. In a world where we increasingly discover states of transition as the norm they have perhaps always been, such reflection, which the summer school at King’s College London is uniquely positioned to enable by creating rare constellations of international students and teachers, is of crucial significance. In my own teaching and scholarship, I try to sustain a sense of those very moments of transition which, precisely as they claim neither origin nor end point, are constitutive of thought.

“The summer school offered a privileged space, where students could explore areas of inquiry they would not otherwise have engaged in.” Soelve Curdts

Thinking between arrivals and departures happened quite literally that summer at King’s, as a community of scholars and students gathered for a brief period of time. Our students came from—and would go back to—not only different parts of the world, but often entirely different fields of study. In this, too, the summer school offered a privileged space, where students could explore areas of inquiry they would not otherwise have engaged in. I would like to think that the occasional business student reading a work of literature, or the English major tackling the intricacies of a physics problem can make – has made – some kind of difference.

King’s College London welcomed me (back) to Europe after a long absence with a preciously open and heterogeneous vibrancy which spoke – to quote one of the poets I taught there – of something evermore about to be.