‘Thanks to the micro-module, we really see students grow'
Intercultural competences are a 'fundamental skill' for the current generation of students, say the initiators of a special micro-module on this topic. ‘If we have international ambitions, we need to equip students with competences to work and learn in such an intercultural environment.’
Text: Jelle Posthuma Photos: University of Stavanger
In the programme that took off this year, students can learn intercultural competences within a so-called micro-module. They learn how to work and study in an international environment with a variety of cultures. The programme is provided by the UT, under the leadership of Nelleke van Adrichem and in cooperation with six other partner universities.
Project leader and educational advisor Luuk Buunk: ‘People from diverse cultural backgrounds see things very differently. If we have international ambitions as an university, we need to equip students with competences to work and learn in such an intercultural environment. ECIU University in particular offers a great opportunity for this, as the cooperating universities are by definition very international.'
UT student Marie-Laure Snijders handles the organisation and planning of the module. She calls intercultural competences a 'fundamental skill' for the current generation of students. 'It involves listening and understanding skills, for example. But there is more to it. That is why intensive coaching sessions are also included within the module. Some group members clashed in the beginning because of cultural differences, but after the coaching sessions they understood each other a lot better. In that, we really see students grow.' Within the module, students create their own citizen science project. 'Involving citizens in science also often requires intercultural exchange. Therefore, citizen science fits naturally with the module’, Snijders explains.
A trip abroad
Running for the second time from last November, the module consists of (online) group coaching, a central project, discussions and guest lectures by experts, all facilitated by the seven collaborating universities. Students are given a lot of flexibility to put the module together according to their own interests. There is also the possibility to go on an international trip at the end of the programme. The first edition it was Toulouse, the second one Barcelona. 'Developing intercultural competences is essentially about communication skills,' Buunk knows. 'But via a computer screen you can train that to a limited extent. That's why students can choose to go on a trip abroad, which gives them one extra study credit in addition to the two fixed ECTS.' According to Snijders, this trip abroad is highly appreciated. ‘We saw students come together and form a very engaged and close group in such a short time. Some of the students even ended up traveling to each other over the summer again.
The programme is open to all bachelor and master students within ECIU University and is very popular, according to its initiators. Around 85 students are currently enrolled in the second edition of the course. According to Atis Kazaferi, UT-student assistant coaching, the module is suitable for students who want to develop alongside their regular study programme.' In the long term, the programme also offers great opportunities for lifelong learning projects, for example for people from who are already working, adds Buunk.
University of Stavanger hosted the ECIU micro-module on Intercultural Competencies in Citizen Science (ICCS). This module aims to deeply develop the intercultural communication skills and attitudes needed to thrive in international and interdisciplinary contexts, and engage students in citizen science to solve real world societal challenges together.
INSA Toulouse hosted the first micro-module on intercultural competences. What were the benefits for students, the added value for teachers and what was the overall experience of the participants. The answers are giving in this video:
ECIU University micro-module on the intercultural competences met in Toulouse.
University of Stavanger hosted the ECIU micro-module on Intercultural Competencies in Citizen Science (ICCS), last November. In a hybrid way student, teachers and professionals worked together on topics like communication skills and ways to improve their intercultural competences skill level (self-reflection).