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DAAD presents GPSS as a model for international summer schools

In its new online publication, the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD presents its work from 2008 to 2018, funding high-quality international summer schools both in Germany and abroad. Amongst the ten exemplary programs portrayed are our own Global Politics Seasonal Schools (GPSS). The DAAD brochure is available in German here, and we have recapped some highlights below in English.

News from Sep 23, 2018

DAAD’s international summer schools: Goals and Distribution

Anette Pieper, Director of the DAAD Projects Department, begins by pointing out what international summer schools have to offer today. For not only do they create a space for high-level academic exchange. Summer schools have also become a beacon representing German universities and the attractive opportunities they offer on the international education market. Their growing popularity reflects important developments of our times, such as higher paced curricula and increasing internationalization.

The largest number of summer schools receiving DAAD funding focus on Mathematics & Life Sciences and Engineering. Schools in the domain of Law, Economics and Social Sciences, such as our Seasonal Schools belongs, are the third largest group of recipients, followed by the humanities, medicine and other disciplines.

In terms of location, Berlin is, of course, one of the main hubs for DAAD sponsored summer schools within Germany, hosting 32 schools over the past ten years. The Hanover region of Lower Saxony was even home to 35 schools. Beyond Germany, China has been the most popular location at 40 schools in 10 years, including our own GPSS Shanghai. At the same time, the Center for Global Politics has also gone the road less traveled, doing pioneer work in some countries where only few other DAAD-funded schools operate, such as Vietnam, Iran, and Cambodia. In fact, in Jordan, there has been only one program other than GPSS.

Regarding the other summer schools presented in the publication, the program of Wuerzburg University may be of interest to alumni in the field of lifelong learning and adult education, whereas in the field of human rights, the Viadrina University’s summer school has established a good reputation.


Klaus Segbers explains the challenges and unique features of GPSS

Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers, head of program, was interviewed for the publication. When asked about the logistic and administrative challenges of remotely organizing seasonal schools across the globe, he praises the work of project coordinator Lydia Tetzner success of the seasonal schools, also emphasizing the excellent working relationship with the academic and organizational partners of GPSS. In the running of the schools, online tools are, of course, indispensable. Our students use them to apply to and evaluate the program, access the literature and complete and submit tasks.

While the curricula are uniquely designed to address current issues concerning the respective locations of the schools in the various locations, such as Tehran, Shanghai, Amman, Hanoi and Phnom Penh, Segbers explains that all are built on the same formula and thus share special characteristics. All Global Politics Summer Schools, for instance, challenge traditional teaching methods and perspectives. They all address overarching phenomena such as globalization and the emergence of new actors in international affairs. They invite master students of all social sciences and regional studies, operating in an interdisciplinary setting. They introduce students (and lecturers) to a rich variety of learning methods, including short lectures, interactive group discussions and presentations, daylong simulation games, online elements, discussions with experts, project modules and excursions.

GPSS enables an international exchange of ideas, concepts and research results in a condensed setting. Connecting both lecturers and students from various countries can serve as an initial spark, as they sometimes go on to cooperate on future projects. Notably, the schools also create a space for discussion among students that is otherwise often restricted by the political or financial situation in their countries. Today’s participants are future agents of change, Segbers points out. They will go on to pursue careers driving forward the development of their countries. Our seasonal schools help them build networks for their future.

And finally, evaluations show that our program often sparks or strengthens students’ interest to study in Germany. Of course, challenges remain: Many advanced social science degree programs in Germany have tough German language requirements. Moreover, the costs of living in Germany are simply not affordable for many participants from Cambodia, Vietnam and Jordan. This is one of the reasons why we strongly promote DAAD’s newly established Helmut-Schmidt-Programme for Public Policy and Good Governance which supports motivated and engaged students from developing countries by awarding scholarships.

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