Report on the 1st European conference on Teaching and Learning in Politics
Over 80 delegates from 16 countries gathered in a sunny Maastricht for the 1st European conference on Teaching and Learning in Politics, International Relations and European Studies. The rationale behind the conference was to bring together a number of European Teaching and Learning networks. These were the British International Studies Association (BISA) Teaching and Learning Working Group, the ECPR Standing Group Teaching and Learning Politics, the Political Science Association (PSA) Teaching and Learning Specialist Group and UACES, the academic association for Contemporary European Studies.
The first day started with Wim Gijselaers’ thought provoking keynote lecture ‘New types of students? New types of universities? What’s ahead for teaching and learning Politics, International Relations and European Studies?´. The conference mixed panels, workshops and a nano-teach session in order to allow for some variation and a more interactive environment. The workshops examined topics from making Simulations Work through how to organize and moderate webinars to a study on Problem-Based Learning. The nano-teach sessions provided 5 minute examples of good practice and included virtual presentations from two participants unable to attend the conference. The session was lubricated by drinks sponsored by Politics and then followed by an excellent informal dinner. Day Two started with a roundtable on the scholarship of teaching and learning with editors from two journals that include high quality pedagogic articles within their pages, Politics and Journal of Contemporary European Research and the Commissioning editor for Politics and IR from Oxford University Press.
The topics covered in the conference ranged from discussions around the Bologna process and Employability through encouraging students to engage with research methods and skills modules, to highlighting novel ways to engage policy makers and NGOs in teaching undergraduate students. Other papers explored the issue of internationalizing the curriculum and others outlined the benefits of utilizing the experience of students in a variety of settings.
A consistent theme during delegates´ exchanges was how similar many of the challenges are in teaching politics and IR despite the different and varied national contexts, but also how motivating it is to share and exchange with like-minded teaching enthusiasts. Overall, the feedback on the event was very positive, with most participants indicating that they would join a similar event in the future again. Paper panels were perceived well, but participants would even like to experience more active learning during hands-on workshops. Feedback also highlighted that even more time for informal conversations would have been appreciated (a good reminder for providing space in our teaching and learning practice more generally?). There was broad support for a similar event to be held in two years time.
Heidi Maurer (Maastricht University) and Simon Lightfoot (University of Leeds)
Local Conference Organizers, ECPR Standing Group Teaching and Learning Politics, http://teaching.eurea.sk
Could not join us but interested in conference discussions?
- Check the contributions at our conference website which keeps being updated: http://www.uaces.org/events/teaching/programme.php
- Check our storify: https://storify.com/Usherwood/eurotlc or #euroTLC
Please see the conference website for further details on this new exciting conference.
Interested in participating the next time around? We will post information about the the Second European Conference on Teaching and Learning Politics, International Relations and European Studies to be held in 2016 as it becomes available.