Students, PhD candidates, and professors from six countries and four continents have celebrated the launch of the project "Transnational Governance and Human Rights" with a virtual kick-off event. The project will expand the international network of the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Fulda University of Applied Sciences and establish long-lasting partnerships until the end of 2024. For this purpose, the department successfully attained a nearly one million euro grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) from its funding programme UAS.International (HAW.International). The broadly based project enhances the cooperation between international partners from academia and practice in order to strengthen the internationalisation of studies, teaching, research, and doctoral studies.
Partnerships across four continents
The project supports a variety of exchange programmes with six selected partner universities worldwide. These include the State University of New York (SUNY) in Cortland, USA, the MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada, the German Jordanian University in Amman, Jordan, the Birzeit University near Ramallah in Palestine, Sciences Po Toulouse in Southern France, and the University College London (UCL), UK. “The expansion and enhancement of our partner network is crucial for successful internationalisation. I am confident in this project: our kick-off event already proved that we have very committed and motivated partners on board. I hope for new impetus and joint activities that emerge from our mutual exchange which will advance the internationalisation, not only of the department but of the entire university," says Julia-Sophie Rothmann, Head of the International Office at Fulda University of Applied Sciences.
The project also strengthens the cooperation between academia and practice and establishes the “Fulda Centre for Transnational Governance”. “Here, students and researchers from our partner institutions will work together with representatives from politics and business, international organisations and think tanks,” announces Professor Claudia Wiesner, speaker of the project team in 2021. “This offers a unique opportunity for students and researchers to learn from political practice, and for practitioners to exchange with students and researchers. This way, both sides learn!” Workshops and lectures on human rights, Europe, intercultural communication, and sustainable development are planned. The Centre will also support students in participating in the educational simulation “Model United Nations” and developing their skills at international conferences.
Learning and teaching worldwide
“Human rights, the subject of our interdisciplinary master's program ‘Human Rights Studies in Politics, Law and Society,’ are a global topic," says Professor Matthias Klemm, member of the project team and responsible for the internationalisation of studies. “This is why we are planning an English-taught programme and the enhancement of joint teaching with our partner universities. We can build on our established experience with international online courses and we will now firmly anchor them into our curriculum.” The project not only strengthens technical and practical skills, but also intercultural and foreign language competences. For example, 24 scholarships will allow the university to invite international students to study in Fulda andenable students from Fulda to spend a semester abroad.
An inspiring environment for research
In addition to the internationalisation of studies and teaching, the project focuses on the development of an international research environment at Fulda University of Applied Sciences. Every year, the Fulda Graduate School of Social Sciences will invite renowned visiting professors from the partner institutions and organise international conferences and summer schools. “Especially for young scholars it is ground-breaking to establish international contacts, to orientate themselves between different academic traditions and to be inspired by them. As the first University of Applied Sciences in Germany with the right to award doctorates in Social Sciences, we want to lead the way here as well," says Professor Eva Gerharz, head of the Fulda Graduate School of Social Sciences and member of the project management team. Among other things, the project aims to facilitate “co-tutelle”, i.e. the binational supervision of doctoral degrees and the promotion of research stays of doctoral students in Fulda and at partner institutions.
With a “Global Lectures Series” and an “Autumn School”, the first events will already take place in the coming summer semester. For the time being, all activities will be in a digital format. But they prove that international cooperation can be expanded even in times of a global pandemic.