Public Online Program of Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST)

Here’s looking at you, Europe: We want to help people yearning for knowledge through this crisis by offering a free digital lecture series covering a wide range of “European Studies” topics. An invitation to learn for each and every one in times of limited mobility.

Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST) is offering fascinating insights into its interdisciplinary courses to the wider public for the first time ever – including twelve lectures in English on highly topical issues related to European Studies, as well as three interactive German language sessions. The experts delivering the lectures represent disciplines as diverse as history, literature, philosophy, political science, law, business, architecture, environmental studies, and German. Travel restrictions resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic prompted the organizers to convert the program – which is typically geared toward international participants – into a digital lecture series for the general public.

The lecture series addresses overarching questions asked in our European Studies courses from the perspectives of different disciplines and German language levels. In their 45-minute sessions, the instructors will focus on contextualizing the course content in terms of Berlin as a site of cultural and historical significance, using actual photographic and film material, referring to Berlin and/or German institutions, and illustrating their lectures with artifacts, excursion examples, etc.

The subject course lectures will be pre-recorded, the German language sessions will take place live online. All of them are open for “virtual guest students” in Germany and all over the world. The recordings enable whole new groups of participants to profit from the program’s expertise, and they will stay online during future semesters, when we will be able to welcome international students on-site again. Anyone interested in FU-BEST can thus gain a realistic impression of the program and make an informed decision about studying abroad with us. This adds to the attractiveness of Berlin and Germany as a place to study, in times of crisis as much as ever.

At the same time, this lecture series offers an opportunity for all international students whose dream of studying abroad this fall fell apart to still hold on to this dream. The online offering of FU-BEST can help stay in touch with Berlin, and it may bridge the time that needs to pass before studying abroad is possible again with intellectual and virtual input. Thus, the cultural and scientific exchange beyond national borders and temporal barriers will be kept alive – to welcome those students to Germany at a later point in time, and with them a valuable pool of young and highly motivated talent. Not only will Germany profit from this after the crisis, it is also a psychologically vital, positive signal sent out by a German university to international guest students in these emotionally difficult and uncertain times.

For all international partners of Freie Universität Berlin likewise, this public lecture series is an affirmative signal of appreciation. Last but definitely not least, the online program provides encouragement to FU-BEST faculty, since many academics and instructors are currently facing a shortage of course offerings and intellectual exchange. For them, too, the crisis poses a major financial and psychological challenge – but the online format of FU-BEST’s lecture series provides them with a possibility to try out new perspectives, to solidify their use of digital media, and to expand online teaching in general.

Yet, this is an offering for all interested people. If you want to re-orient yourself or enlarge your knowledge, or simply get a taste of new topics on an academic level, you are cordially invited to join us. Especially in times of Corona, this may apply to human beings in all avenues of life who see this as a chance to add to their individual learning curve.

Because of this crisis, we were all of a sudden no longer able to provide our students with knowledge about Berlin and Germany and with cultural impressions of everyday life here on-site, let alone exchange thoughts and perspectives with them. This made us realize that, from now on, we need to have new formats in store for the future and that we have to extend our portfolio by adding digital offerings in order to fulfill our educational mission and our own vision of making a meaningful contribution to international understanding. That is why we are currently in the process of re-designing our courses as “blended learning” offerings, too, which can be completed regardless of time zones and spatial distance.

In addition, we also want to introduce new, compact formats addressing broader topics. These shall complement participants’ home studies by conveying personal and intercultural competences which they would normally gain during a study-abroad experience with us on-site and which would be a positive addition to their CVs, as well. Students shall continue to be able to choose these offerings parallel to their studies at home so they can have a virtual version of a study-abroad experience with all of its enriching aspects, even if they are barred for some time from actual travel abroad.

What is essential to us in all of our academic content is the integration of Berlin as cultural and historical site and resource. The digital lecture series – as well as all new formats – builds heavily on the city, its inhabitants, and its history, as well as societal connections with Germany and/or Europe as a whole, and in turn with their political, cultural, historical, and social peculiarities.

Initiators and Contact

Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST)
Freie Universität Berlin
vertreten durch / represented by ERG Universitätsservice GmbH
Malteserstraße 74-100, Haus S
12249 Berlin

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