as promised, we would like to inform you about the progressing plans for the forthcoming term. Some of the participating universities have already taken firm decisions that we as a consortium have to take into account, while others have just announced interim decisions because their governments and administrations have not yet come up with final decisions.
Overall, however, a consortium’s meeting at the beginning of June 2020 produced a fairly uniform picture:
In all participating European universities there is a cautious return to forms of teaching in the classroom, although this will be limited to small groups. Rules on social distancing will remain in place, so that 1.5 meter distance between people is observed. It is therefore very likely that formats of blended learning, plus ongoing online teaching, will dominate the coming winter term. We are preparing for this and will provide both forms of co-teaching to allow for such small groups, as well as recorded lectures, which will accompany the synchronous online-discussions. In contrast to the current term, we will have more time to prepare and take into consideration lessons learned from our current experience and your feedback.
Traveling within Europe seems to be possible for those with a Schengen passport again, step-by-step, but of course the coronavirus is still there. We all hope that the much-discussed second wave will not take place, or will be weaker than the first, though nobody can foresee this.
The EU’s current travel warnings for many countries in the world will remain in force, at least until the end of August, and we very much hope that they will also be gradually lifted and air traffic will resume.
On this basis, we have decided that there is no reason to postpone the winter term. We will therefore start the first as well as the third term as usual in September/October 2020. We will offer all students in the EMGS Consortium the opportunity to attend all planned courses (face-to-face or virtual). We will further issue the relevant transcripts of records, documenting all credits relevant for exams.
Notwithstanding this positive news, we have to expect that it will be impossible for some students to reach their place of study. Be it because there is currently no possibility of obtaining the necessary visas, be it because it will not yet be possible to travel to Europe from certain countries, or be it because our non-European partner institutions have not yet reopened their doors and are still unable to accept foreign students. Please be rest assured that we are working hard to find solutions for each of these situations.
For those who encounter visa problems, we advise you to inform us as soon as possible and to apply to the EMGS Consortium for a change of study place, as it may be easier to complete the formalities for another country in Europe. For those who cannot spend the third term at a non-European partner university as planned, we offer the possibility to apply for changing the third and fourth term, i.e. to start with the Master thesis at the European second year university and to postpone the stay outside Europe to 2021.
For those who due to adverse circumstances cannot travel to Europe at the beginning of the next term, we offer to start their studies by participating in online events and will integrate them into the now „normal“ forms of blended learning as soon as social conditions allow. This also goes for those students who start or continue their studies at Addis Ababa University.
The EMGS Consortium is currently developing its teaching concept further and taking the opportunity to interlink the lectures of the participating universities in such a way that, regardless of where one is enrolled, every student has the opportunity to at least virtually get to know the professors of the other study locations.
An e-library of recorded lectures will be available to all students so that they can learn asynchronously. This collection of videos and PPTs with audio recording is growing by the minute.
We do hope that with this information we reconfirm that it is worthwhile to choose the course of study in the winter term 2020/2021 and that you can count on our dedicated support. At the same time, we hope that with this basic information we address most of the likely scenarios. Of course, many questions can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, because the world is not only becoming more homogeneous due to global processes, but also increasingly differentiated. If need be, Natalia Breininger () and Stephan Kaschner () are happy to answer your questions. Questions of more general interest will also be addressed in FAQ section of our new EMGS website. Please take a regular look. At the same time, we ask for your understanding that especially those questions that require coordination between two study sites can only be answered once a solution has been found at both places and that sometimes delays may occur.
For first-year-students in the programme, it should be noted that we will shortly publish the programme of the summer school (2-4 July 2020). We are in the process of organising a mixture of lectures, seminars, film presentations and discussions as well as work in breakout groups. The latter will be dedicated, for example, to the project of creating a platform for student publications from the study programme. As every year, only this time in online formats, we will discuss how to find topics for the master theses in the second year. We are looking forward to your feedback on their (exceptional) experience with Global Studies at times of the corona pandemic.
For 2nd-year-students, a word about the last steps on the now almost completed path to alumni status. The respective university administrations have made different arrangements as to how the particularities of the term can be taken into account. Most of them allow for a later submission of the MA thesis. We are, of course, prepared to respect these regulations, even if it certainly does not seem be fair to everyone that different regulations should apply in a joint programme. However, we would like to point out the following: even before the pandemic, the completion of an extensive thesis at the end of the programme has already raised fears that deadlines will not be met. Nevertheless, most former students managed very well, and the few actually encountering insurmountable difficulties in accessing material and literature have applied successfully for a (relatively short) extension. We would encourage all those who are able to do so, to stick to the original timetable and deadlines. This will allow for on-time reviewing and be a precondition for issuing degrees at the foreseen moment in late summer. Our intention is to help as much as we can for you to receive the certificate at the earliest convenience, thus allowing you to apply to great job opportunities early on. It has become abundantly clear in recent months that the world needs more expertise for global configurations, and not less! Completing the Masters’ thesis by the end of July or in early August 2020, as well as completing and submitting the last remaining essays from this term’s classes, is the first, absolutely necessary step to ensure that the certificates can be issued in late September 2020. Given the travel restrictions, we are planning for this year to organize a decentralized graduation ceremony connected by the now well-known video programmes, so that we can maintain the feeling of belonging to the EMGS family.
Please take care at times of “Lockerungen” (easing of lockdown regulations) and stay healthy,
(Head of the EMGS Consortium)