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.

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.

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.

‘Google cannot find your slippers in the Temple’

Diana

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

The Summer School should be fun but also achieve interpersonal growth and fire up passion for higher education. Amidst young people’s busy lives, it should bring about such outcomes with speed and panache, most certainly, it should be a substantive variation on information available via Wiki, FB, Twitter, et cetera. So, what is it like to teach faced with such challenges?

I teach Politics and International Relations and my experience has shown that the humanities encourage creativity. I still want my students to read without worry they’d be called nerds if they do so also in the summer. A vital tool of Summer School teaching is the practice of the subject. My students partake in daily strategy games, such as Negotiations with DPRK; simulations, like the United Nations Security Council Reform Group; international trade games; smart city building exercises, and the rest.

My own expertise comes from constantly researching my subject. A great enabler of that is seeing my students as a focus group that literally take the pulse of the course through their comments and feedback. Because I teach international students in London and then also take Politics and IR ‘on the road’ to India, my students cover between them a substantive portion of the globe and bring together a myriad of views and expectations.

Making sense of the world is about acquiring a key skill – the ability to separate information from knowledge. As a lecturer, social media poses a tremendous challenge on how to inculcate this key skill in students, namely the separation of knowledge from information, whilst appreciating the great utility of the internet. Given the limitations of time, I see the summer programme as an opportunity not only to learn about IR but to practice it on a daily basis and thus walk away with not only the theory that one gains from a classical degree approach but also from application of it to real life events in IR.

International Relations (IR) particularly lends itself to a variety of teaching approaches. This is most relevant to how students engage with IR as a summer course, since the brevity of the programme calls for a unique method of engagement than a year long degree course otherwise would.

Lectures on IR are thus supplemented by real life simulations in the summer programme classes. One example of how this occurs in practice is presented through the very topical current discussion on the United Nations, given the forthcoming election of its next Secretary-General later this year. I contributed a recent blog on the various aspects of the process. But how does one then translate this passive information into active knowledge in the classroom?

An excellent way to engage with the lengthy calls for United Nations reform is to focus student attention on its key body, the Security Council. This then allows for the implementation of a simulation exercise modelled on the “Open Ended Group on Security Council Reform”, where students can study in depth and analyse the positions of competing powers as to whether to enlarge, level out for parity, or do away altogether with this key institution of UN decision making.

One of the most memorable sayings I heard taking my subject ‘on the road’ to India was: ‘Google cannot find your slippers in the Temple’ (which in Hindi translates into something like ‘Google Apni Chappal Mandir Se Nahi Dhoond sakta’.) With that, my students find that social media is a phenomenal way to exchange beacons, whilst the Summer School enables the connection of a great series of these to create a whole and gain a different understanding of the world altogether!