My inspiration for creating Berlin: City of Reinvention

Dr Alexander Heinz is the last person on the right

Dr Alexander Heinz is the academic lead of “Berlin: City of Reinvention” and King’s Summer Programmes’ Associate Director for Research and Innovation

Three years ago, I wrote a new kind of short-term programme that combined what had fascinated me about current research in international education and my own personal experience. The programme was about the possibility of transforming the world through personal agency; but I called it “Berlin: City of Reinvention”. It has allowed over 100 King’s students from very different subject disciplines to spend a week of encounters and active learning in Berlin since.

Some of the genesis of the programme is very personal. I used to be a student myself in Berlin, once romantically in love and out of love with the city. Coming from a generation who was politicised by the fall of the wall, that most liberating and exhilarating of times that one can live through, I believe that Berlin is one of the places where students, who were born a decade after these events, can still discover and feel that initial sense of wonder and of human power to overcome what seems to be accepted in life. A recent US President said in his farewell speech, “the most important office in a democracy is being a citizen”. I have always believed that, perhaps also for all my student years spent as a scholar of the German National Scholarship Foundation, who gently instilled in us the ethos of taking initiative and of taking action for others.

Doris Sommer’s concept of civic agency and how art was a major factor in empowering us was a major influence for Sarah Williamson, Director of King’s Summer Programmes, and myself recently. The Humanities’ role in addressing issues in society is coming increasingly to the fore, in Germany the minister for education just last week announced a large Geisteswissenschaften programme to address issues of social cohesion, recognising the innovative potential of practical applications and hopefully an exciting opportunity for engagement with Germany in the future. At the same time, I build on my own research as a historian. I spent many years researching and writing a book on the stereotypes in Britain about Germans, and these perceptions are with us, in different formations, in all generations. Our learning about Germany will not be free from them; “the war” is still one of the first things that Generation Z Britons associate with Germany in our pre-departure classes. Nobody comes to this course as a blank sheet. It’s both astonishing and at the same time not a surprise at all. I wanted this course to acknowledge the ability for us to change how we think about things, even if our perceptions might be deep seated. Berlin with its broken history seemed to be the historical personification of this ability to change, to reimagine itself.

Yet, this is not a history course. The course is firmly in the present with its job market challenges, start up scene, refugee “welcome culture” or lack of. Berlin is not a beautiful place on the surface. Its main resource are its people. It reveals itself to the visitor, the temporary local, over time. “What makes Berlin’s citizenry so attractive”, our workshop in the middle of the week, is often a turning point for participants. A couple of sessions before, a discussion like this could not have happened. The centre of the course is in truth not Berlin either. It is easier if we first look at others, those Berliners and then think about ourselves. In reality, the course wants to be about each participant individually on this journey, and how we position ourselves vis-à-vis the situations we find ourselves in and the people who have power over us or who we have responsibility for. It is all too often not too difficult to say with hindsight, which side of history we would have stood on. Yet, when is resistance in our everyday required and legitimate, even though it might not be legal? The challenge is to think about our freedom for today in Britain, in our professional, social and our political lives.

The programme is thus challenging intellectually, physically and sometimes mentally, in a measured way. It has its painful moments and asks about the role of guilt to move on, the need for forgiveness to live in Germany, the responsibility of generations born long after an event. It is also demanding in other ways. It requires students not just to think as medics, as geographers, as scientists or literature students. It requires the courage to do so and the openness to listen. It asks of us to think about wider contexts and areas of our life that they might not have thought about, or not have talked about. Are the Stasi headquarters offices boring as the evil is banal? Is evil even the right word? Last year a student mentioned that she felt listened to for the first time in her life.

In the United Kingdom, the idea of creating international opportunities for non-traditional or first generation students is still a relatively new endeavour and the course is attracting interest from colleagues in this country and at large conferences internationally. Educationalists speak a lot about a sense of belonging at the moment. That sense might often have been there at school, but it needs to be built from scratch at university. I myself often felt that that sense would primarily come through making a meaningful contribution, but there are other, more effective ways of achieving this. We put a lot of emphasis on peer-to-peer support and learning in King’s Summer Programmes and the course is an opportunity to network and build friendships in a warm and safe atmosphere.

For many students on the module it is a first step to rediscover the power of the international in their own life and the cultural stake that they already have in it, perhaps in their own family history, that can serve them very well in the future. We are learning through looking at and encountering the lives of others and are arriving, with criticality, at a stronger self.

All this is exciting and we in Summer Programmes are set to continue to develop and refine this type of programming further in the future, using the academic disciplines within the College as a galvanising power. Berlin will remain a mirror, a destination, but there is so much more to discover on this globe and within ourselves.

Spring conferences: what matters next

This spring King’s Summer Programmes are meeting with International Education leaders from across the world to discuss exciting innovations in the summer school sector. King’s Summer Education Programme contributes to and shapes the international debate on best practice and innovation in the field of summer learning and teaching.

At this year’s APAIE, the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education conference hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dr Sarah Williamson and Mina Chakmagi spoke about ‘Improving Inclusion: Short Courses as an Opportunity for International Education’.

This week we are attending NAFSA, the large annual conference of the Association of International Educators in Washington DC, USA. Dr Alexander Heinz, Head of the Summer Education Programme, will be presenting together with Lorraine Ishmael-Byers, King’s Associate Director (Disability Support and Inclusion) on ‘Students Shape Policy Internationally: Dialogues on Disability’.

On campus in London, our Community of Practice which brings together summer tutors from all disciplines and programmes at King’s met last week to share best practice and their enthusiasm of welcoming students this summer. We have invited Dr Debbie Lock from Lincoln University who shared with the community her research into living and teaching for Chinese student cohorts.

Earlier in May Dr Heinz presented at the Going Global conference in Berlin, Germany, organised by the British Council, on ‘A Diplomatic Approach – Constructing the Academy from Flying Faculty and Online Learning‘.

Along with Katie Constanza from University North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Dr Heinz led a well-attended session at the Forum on Education Abroad in Denver, USA, on ‘Strategies for Building Student Resilience Through Integrative Global Learning‘.

The Impact of Preparatory University Programmes on School Students’ academic development will be at the centre of a plenary session at UCAS Annual International Teachers’ and Advisers’ Conference in Glasgow on 4th June. Dr Heinz will be joined by Dr Matt Edwards, Head of Sixth Form, Sevenoaks School and Lynette Peine, UCAS Lead and EAP Tutor at English Language Centre.

It is a privilege to share best practice and debate ideas with colleagues from across the world, working every day to provide students an enriching education experience.

The way we learn on summer schools

Thais Russomano, MD, is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre of Human & Applied Physiological Sciences, part of the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine’s School of Basic & Medical Biosciences.
Thais teaches summer school students about body systems and how humans adapt when exposed to hostile environments.

 

If asked at the age of 16 what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’, the answer university professor would never have crossed my mind. I knew what I wanted to be, it was simple – for as long as I could remember I dreamt of becoming an astronaut. This would be a difficult career path for anyone to follow, however, coming from a country (Brazil) that didn’t at that time even have a Space Agency made the task as difficult as climbing Mount Everest blindfolded! I wish at that stage of my life I’d had the opportunity to experience a course like the King’s Summer programme.

Exposure to material taught by an international professor in a ‘university-type’ form would certainly have given my confidence a boost and allayed many of the doubts I had about studying abroad and at a higher level. Nonetheless, I planned my journey, completing medicine in Brazil, then facing my fears and going oversees for a 2-year MSc in Aerospace Medicine in the US, and a PhD in Space Physiology at King’s College London, before working at the German Space Agency (DLR).

My academic career began at a university in Brazil, where I established the Microgravity Centre, a pioneering Space Life Sciences Research Centre, but my links with King’s always remained strong, and I eventually became the Deputy Course Director/Senior Lecturer of the Space Physiology & Health MSc course. Another constant in my life was dedicating spare time to teaching school-aged students about the life and works of astronauts during space missions.

Therefore, when asked to participate in teaching for the King’s College Summer Programmes, I was delighted to accept, as, from my own student experience, I knew the benefit this kind of interaction brings – I see it as a two-way win-win situation for both students and professors, both of whom encounter different learning styles and gain from an exchange of cultural values, which broadens perspectives and adds to personal and professional growth.

The design of the Summer Courses fosters this interaction of tutors/students and provides an enriching learning environment. Students gain a great insight into what life would be like studying at university level, and possibly experiencing for the first time a British way of delivering knowledge. This opportunity also gives a special experience to us as professors, entering a highly multicultural environment, bringing with it challenges as to how best to engage these young minds, but at the same time making the teaching-learning process more stimulating and special.

Given the short length of the courses, they can be no more than simply ‘taster’ experiences for both sides, however, the enthusiasm and curiosity of the students is evident from their willingness to participate in activities, and from their questions, which become more probing and frequent as the week progresses and confidence grows. And it is exactly this growth in confidence, this exposure to professors of a different culture, and this opportunity to mix with a different way of doings things that is the most invaluable lesson of the week for students, opening their eyes to potential new horizons.

Likewise, teaching pre-university students, and especially those from a culture for whom English is not their native-tongue, provides lecturers with a reminder that sometimes we must adapt our skills to better communicate the content of our classes, making the language we use more accessible, building on logical reasoning and employing good analogies that help in the understanding of more complex ideas. I am reminded that these skills are important within our practice at King’s, which is by its very nature, a very international university, with more than 40% of its student population drawn from 160 countries.

For me, the experience of teaching young students on King’s Summer Programmes is gratifying and enriching; something new to add to my lifelong learning portfolio. For the students, I hope they find their pre-university programmes inspiring and motivational experiences, bolstering their self-belief and turning the first page of their academic journey.

Personifying the King’s experience

The teacher’s role in summer business education

Dr Andrew McFaull is a Teaching Fellow in Accounting and Finance in the King’s Business School. In the Summer, Dr McFaull teaches Business Management, International  Business, Accounting and Finance in London and Hong Kong.

Over the past few years of delivering summer schools here at King’s, it has become clear to me that the role of the tutor is much more than just teaching and is about delivering a memorable learning experience. The challenge for us as tutors and those who support us as we seek to offer a great summer school is to be aware of what kind of learning experience we want to offer.

To answer this question, I believe we need to view it from our students’ perspective and ask ourselves why would someone be willing to travel great distances, often at considerable expense to enrol for only two to three weeks in one of our short summer courses? As a business tutor, I would put this in business speak and term it our value proposition. Yet, what is it? In essence, why do large numbers of students come from across the world to our summer schools each year? It seems to me the only way to deliver the best possible programme of summer learning is to exceed our students expectations and to do that, we must first understand why they enrol on a summer school course.

It’s clearly not us personally as tutors that attracts the students. Regardless of our doctorates and other various learned credentials, it is safe to assume that none of our students will have heard about our teaching and/or research prior to enrolling upon our courses. Instead, it is almost certainly the opportunity to gain an education from an esteemed institution with a global reputation that attracts students in their hundreds year upon year. Therefore, we can perhaps conclude that the role of a summer school tutor is to personify the anticipated experiences and related expectations that comes with receiving an education from somewhere like King’s College London.

“I notice how much more heterogeneous the expectations of our summer students are.”

What complicates this process further is that this personification of a King’s education is not the same for all students and this is something I have increasingly observed of as I have been delivering summer schools on behalf of the business school. When I contrast my summer school teaching with our conventional undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, which I also teach upon, I notice how much more heterogeneous the expectations of our students are and we only have two or three weeks to fulfil and
hopefully exceed these expectations.

“Helping achieve long-term personal and professional goals”

As a broad generalisation, some enrol on our summer school programmes to advance their CVs and ultimately their future careers. Others are visiting us to be challenged intellectually and want a scholarly experience from one of the world’s leading universities. Then there are those enrolled on our summer school programmes who might be termed educational tourists, who are attracted by studying in different city or country for a few weeks. All these expectations are perfectly reasonable. Yet, the predicament we face when seeking to meet students’ expectations and hopefully exceed them to deliver a good summer school, is how do you deliver one course which meets many expectations?

The answer hopefully lies in the fact that each of these expectations mentioned before are not directly in conflict with each other and therefore by delivering in one area, we are precluded from delivering in another. Ultimately, in my mind, our goal in the summer school is to build a programmes of learning which is intellectually challenging, but simultaneously brings in both the King ’s and wider London experience and allows students to achieve their long-term personal and professional goals.

This brings me back to my original point that the role of summer school tutor is much more than teaching, it’s about cultivating a memorable learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom and this needs to be co-produced with the student, because ultimately it’s their learning experience.

Addressing the Signs of the Times

Dr Huw Dylan is a Senior Lecturer in Intelligence Studies and International Security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Dr Dylan is also a Visiting Research Professor at the Norwegian Defence Intelligence School, Oslo.

 

One of the most exciting things about the King’s Undergraduate Summer School is the variety of approaches to teaching and learning that students will experience. This reflects both the scope of subjects on offer, but also the energy tutors put into creating engaging learning environments. This entry, building upon our colleague Dr Diana Bozhilova’s blog post on teaching international relations in this series, offers a brief introduction to our approach to teaching Politics and the Media.

For those of us interested in politics and international relations it seems that not a day goes by without some controversy or other concerning what is the truth of a particular situation making the headlines in the press. From the competing narratives offered to the electorate in the BREXIT referendum, to the myriad debates concerning President Trump and words and deeds, to the running series of debates between Russia and the West over a number of issues, including the shooting down of MH17 to Russian involvement in east Ukraine, matters of strategic communication, allegations of propaganda, and charges of ‘fake news’ have come to dominate several areas of our political discourse. This course aims to place many of these issues in a deeper historical context, and to consider carefully how information and messages have been utilised by political power throughout history to further their goals.

Our teaching is based on our experience in the Department of War Studies. This department encourages an interdisciplinary and creative approach to studying conflict and war and all associated phenomena. We aim to combine teaching of core concepts and ideas, such as exploring the main theorists or thinkers of propaganda and strategic communications, in tandem with the conflicts or issues that they sought to influence at the time. And then to examine how these ideas resonate today in our contemporary debates. So, we will begin with the ideas of Gustav le Bon, and propaganda in the age of the Two World Wars, before moving on to the Cold War and the post 9/11 world. Students will engage deal with theory and practice, setting the scene for many of the issues we the class will consider during the latter part of the course.

The learning outcomes for this short course on Politics and the Media are centred upon the development of an understanding of key subject matter and fostering critical thinking. The class will consider the core components of propaganda and strategic communication narratives in various case studies. Many of these case studies involve campaigns that aimed to convert or entrench the political stance or the voting intentions of a large body of people, and have become contentious. Analysing the construction, delivery, and impact of these various campaigns will leave students equipped to more effectively engage with such campaigns in future, in particular with regard analysing and challenging the competing claims of ‘truth’. A key component of developing these critical skills will be an active consideration of the modern information environment and information technology, and how they both facilitate the propagation and the challenge of key messages.

Dialogues on Disability

‘In many areas of the globe, opportunities for disabled students to meet, study and advance thinking on disability and inclusion beyond the confines of national borders are nearly non-existent.’ To change this institutions are developing programmes and working collaboratively to face the worldwide discrepancy of this subject.

An example of innovative short term programming, the Dialogues and Disability programme started life in 2013 between Delhi University and King’s, as a collaboration between international Summer Programmes and King’s Disability Advisory Service. The programme focuses on improving the university experience for disabled staff and students and explores topics from inclusion across aspects of university life, mentoring and pathways to success after graduation. This annual programme brings together disabled students and disability professionals, from around the world, to explore the challenges and opportunities faced by disabled people with respect to accessibility and inclusion.

‘This is an example of internationalisation and disability services have entered into a symbiotic exchange of perspectives and best practices.’

Dr Alexander Heinz, Summer Education Programme Lead and Lorraine Ishmael-Byers, Associate Director (Disability Support and Inclusion) Student Support and Wellbeing Services co-written the recent ‘Transnational Dialogues on Disability’ article published at EAIE Forum magazine.

Please visit our webpage to know more about the Dialogues on Disability programme.

King’s Summer Programmes at BUTEX Winter workshop

Recent developments Global HE shows indicators of how short-term programming overseas is increasingly engaging non-traditional students. Short courses present nimble opportunities to broaden access and contribute significantly to the creative pedagogical range of international education.

Dr Sarah Williamson, Director of Summer Programmes, and Dr Alexander Heinz, Summer Education Programme Lead will be presenting the ‘Improving Inclusion: Short Courses as an Opportunity for International Education’ workshop at BUTEX Winter Workshop 2018.

BUTEX brings together universities, colleges and other HE institutions across the UK that have a shared interest in learning abroad.

Its aims include developing expertise and influence the future of international education.

We are very pleased to announce that an article in the next edition of EAIE Forum magazine will also discuss ‘Transnational Dialogues on Disability’.

 

What distinguishes a Summer School student?

Dr Nicola Kirkby is a ‘Literature in the City’ tutor on King’s Undergraduate Summer School.
In SummerTimes she is sharing her observations as an academic who this year taught on a summer school for the first time.

 

It’s a habit among critical thinkers to look for comparisons and contrasts. Throughout the King’s Summer ‘Literature and the City’ module, I prompted my students to explore differences between urban and rural experience, between London and their home town, between Dublin in the 1900s and Paris in the 1920s. From a pedagogical perspective, I was also drawing my own comparisons. Having taught a similar module, ‘Writing London’ in the Department of English at King’s for several years now, I found leading this summer school course for the first time in 2018 a refreshing counterpoint.

How do summer school cohorts differ from their term-time counterparts?
While there is much overlap (these are high-achieving undergraduates and alumni from universities across the world), I found that our lectures, seminars, and site visits had their own distinct dynamic that has impacted my teaching practice all year round.

Curiosity

Because they are open to students from any academic discipline, one of the most significant unifying pre-requisites for King’s Summer Programmes participants is curiosity about the course itself. English Literature majors were working alongside scholars with backgrounds in psychology, policy, modern languages, health science, and physics. This was invaluable in a course that interrogated what it means for people from all walks of life to live intersecting, interconnected lives. Our discussions may have focused predominantly on London, but such diversity in approach and experience meant that we were always bringing this city into dialogue with other global capitals, other networks, and other ways of understanding and organising shared space.

Thanks to such curiosity, the Summer School provided an ideal environment for exploring experimental ideas. At first, I think that students coming from more didactic learning environments found opportunities to challenge established theoretical approaches a little disorientating. But this approach fits well, both with the primary aim of literary studies: to encourage independent critical thinking, and with summer school learners themselves, who, in their choice to up sticks and study overseas for three-to-six intense weeks are more than equal to taking initiative.

Commitment

There’s nothing quite like leaving your life behind to embark on a few weeks of focussed study in a new place. Attendance throughout the summer school was sky-high in a way that is unparalleled in full-year courses where students often juggle responsibilities to home and work throughout the teaching semester. What I had not anticipated, and what I was utterly delighted to find was the tireless motivation of this group in our daily seminars, lectures, and site visits to places have changed London’s literary landscape. ‘Literature and the City’ is a fast-paced and thought-provoking module, and this year’s cohort impressed me by exploring London, Paris, and even Dublin on their own alongside our Monday-Friday classes.

Togetherness

The final distinction is a simple yet important one. Working alongside one another in an intense, discussion-led course helps summer school students build collaborative closeness in a way that would take much longer in a regular undergraduate module. By the end of the programme my ‘Literature and the City’ cohort had expanded their network, forging lasting connections with peers from across the world.

Teaching International Relations for dynamic audiences

Dr Diana Bozhilova, Teaching Fellow Summer Programmes, brings her lively discussions on the theory and practice of International Relations to our London programmes through her annual contribution to the King’s Summer School Programmes. 

 

Political events “crowd” our lives with increasing dynamism. This leads to greater interest in the study of International Relations (IR) as a means to explaining ethical questions, consequentialist and deontological reasoning. As a result, normative IR is still very relevant but how do we teach it within short courses for highly mobile and technologically astute young audiences for whom time is of the essence?

Core concepts

My experience of teaching IR has been one of focusing on core concepts and methods. Short courses allow for selecting “relevant” blocks on which to scope attention in order to critically appraise a particularly impactful development in international relations. Take Brexit, Russia or China for example – separately, they challenge aspects of the liberal international order established during the “American” century and contribute to the sense that something rather big is afoot. For normative IR, this means a conceptual and methodological shift being under way.

Roadmaps

The learning outcomes for short courses in IR centre on developing critical thinking and analytical capacities that enable students to transform information flows into knowledge. I would never forget how on one of my travels to India and whilst occupied with thoughts about the impact of technology on the study of IR, a friend from Mumbai remarked: “Google cannot help find your slippers in the temple.” Technology is an information enabler but normative IR provides roadmaps that transform data flows into meaningful building blocks.

Application

Games and simulations increasingly infiltrate IR pedagogy. On the one hand, those opposed to such dynamic teaching models emphasise their inevitably reductionist approach to understanding normative IR through diminution of variables, thus confining discussions to basics at the expense of the vastness of paradigms and approaches that exist in the discipline. On the other hand, their great utility lies in adapting static theories to dynamic teaching models. This has a particular advantage for international audiences who would like to see how theories apply within different geographic and institutional settings. Simulations can involve structural constructs from diplomacy and negotiations, economic development and governance reforms, management of warfare and environmental crises. They are well suited to short courses, dedicated sessions, and blended learning models.