Concept and Aims
Experiential Learning as Central Methodology
The Transatlantic Students Symposia allow us to provide graduate students with a multi-dimensional, both theoretical and applied, outlook for their field of study and their future occupation, moving beyond traditional classroom instruction. The symposia are conceived to address a variety of key learning objectives embedded in an experiential learning philosophy.
The symposium started out as a student activity with faculty guidance, which remains the guiding principle. Therein, the symposium follows a methodology that is strongly focused on experiential learning. The classroom seminars are aimed at preparing participating students for the experiences of the symposium week. Students are also encouraged to conduct their own research, partially in a collaborative way, which will then cumulate into the final conference presentations.
The field trip portion specifically provides students with a hands-on perspective to otherwise rather theoretical classroom discussions. Traveling (whether at home or abroad) to key locations relevant to the symposium topic and meeting with practitioners in their respective fields highlight the potential practical applications of knowledge gained through classroom discussions and readings, and may provide critical reevaluations of theoretical insights. By integrating practical components into the symposium week, we are also offering an outlook on future career opportunities and internships (in diplomacy, policy, consulting, cultural work, etc.).
The field trip also allows students to visit and engage with different cultures by meeting with international students and faculty. Such meetings provide all participants with a different and more critical perspective towards their own culture and background.
By taking responsibility for organizing the symposia, program alumni who have been chosen as student organizers translate their previous experiences into guiding a new cohort of students throughout the process. This model of student leadership ties in with the experiential learning methodology of the symposium. Faculty - whose role is the long-term maintenance, financing, and academic preparation of the program - guide the student organizers, but also allow them to find their own solutions to particular problems. Student organizers may also play a role during the classroom phase of the program by leading student discussions and guiding peer review of student research.
Both in the preparatory phase and throughout the symposium week, academic faculty engage in team-teaching and in expanding their own disciplinary boundaries by allowing for an inter- and trans-disciplinary exchange of ideas and methods. Furthermore, opening up an experiential space for the student organizers and the students requires faculty to shift their roles from active teaching to facilitating experiential learning. As a result, this may allow for innovative approaches to both teaching and learning.
Central Objectives of the Program
The program builds on six central components as part of the experiential learning framework:
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Transatlantic Students Symposia