The winter term 2020/21 in the EMGS consortium: Again an exceptional one

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect societies around the globe. The situation remains an exceptional one even as lockdowns are lifted and smarter solutions are found to fight new outbreaks.

This is a challenge to universities in general and to transnational programmes like ours in particular, not only due to travel restriction but also because we have to deal with different national legislations and rules set by the local universities. Against this background, our consortium has developed a coherent strategy for the upcoming semester: We continue to guarantee each and every student enrolled in the EMGS-programme that he/ she will be provided with the necessary courses, supervision and other academic support to fulfill all requirements and achieve the MA degree in the foreseen regular timeframe. We will ensure that newly admitted students can enter the programme in fall 2020 without restrictions.

To achieve this aim, at all European study places there is the opportunity to follow all core courses online for all those who follow all core courses online for all those who are unable to attend in person from getting there. At the same time we will offer opportunities to meet face-to-face in small groups or on an individual basis (particularly related to supervision of MA-thesis), respecting the rules for physical distancing. How this works in detail at the universities of the consortium may differ. The local coordinators will be able to provide advice and guide you through this process.

The EMGS-consortium will furthermore offer for the first time an introductory online meeting across all six study places on 12 October 2020. During this meeting we will organize break-out sessions to deal with individual concerns. We of course remain at your disposal for questions that arise before the beginning of the new semester: please get in touch with the local coordinators or the headquarters in Leipzig if need be. Still, we have to ask for your understanding that not all questions can be answered immediately, as the situation at our member universities is often complex and continues to change. Please be assured that we are doing all we can to guarantee you the realization of your study aims.  Covid-19 has caused a crisis that makes visible how much skills are needed to manage a global studies programme, in particular thinking the complexity of multi-scalar processes.

We are aware that travel restrictions and difficulties in getting visa continue to influence the accessibility of individual study places and we do our best to support our students also in this respect. At times, some of the difficulties will remain unsurmountable under the exceptional conditions. But as opportunities for e-learning and digital formats are increasing, this should not be an obstacle to participate in our study programme.

We will provide you regularly with information about details of the upcoming semester on the EMGS website, which we recommend you consult regularly: on teaching programmes at the different study places, on supervision of MA theses, on the mobility track to non-European partner institutions and also on details about psychological counselling and techniques of online learning.

We all hope for rapid improvement of the situation and are keen to meet all of you in the classroom, or at winter and summer schools. But we have to accept that for the time being the exceptional circumstances persist. We wish you all some relaxation over the next couple of weeks and very much look  forwards to meeting you online or in person at the beginning of the next term,

Matthias Middell

Head of the EMGS consortium on behalf of the whole EMGS-team