12 August 2008

Dear colleagues,

IUC new Newsletter Initiative

In April this year a new IUC Executive Committee (EC) constituted itself. Having done our job with economy, planning and administration, together with the Director General and representative of all IUC’s governing bodies - it was decided from now on to produce (approximately) bi-annual newsletters for course directors and other colleagues currently involved. The newsletter will comprise the kind of Inter-University Centre information that we expect you will find relevant. You may judge by looking at the below catalogue of information and ideas whether we have hit our mark!

The IUC and Broader European Collaboration: ECTS as Vehicle?

It was decided to encourage you as course directors and organizers to formalize the possibility of graduate students being awarded European Credit Transfer System (ECTS-points) for participation. Please read this as an opportunity, not another demand on the organizational side of your academic work. There should still be a reasonable balance between courses offered in the tradition of academic freedom - without formal merit. The IUC, however, found the issue highly relevant for strengthening collaboration between member universities - as the ECTS-points can only be awarded by the universities, and not by the IUC itself.

Secondly, the general integration of the IUC in current European academic discourses would prove useful, in line with the IUC 35th anniversary conference on “Mobility in the Bologna Process” (autumn 2007). It was agreed that this conference balanced almost ideally on constructive up-dating about European research policies versus moments of harsh and fair criticisms.

Last but not least, the IUC faced the fact that graduate students as well as professors in certain European countries find it increasingly difficult to obtain the necessary economic funding if the activities in question - here the IUC courses - do not “bring home” this formal merit. 

IUC Profile and potential further Consolidation

For a start the IUC would like to make it clear that our activities for the last couple of years have been on a stable and satisfactory level - e.g. 52 courses and 9 conferences in 2007 comprising 1600 participants.

But we should not rest on the laurels. The IUC will continue the traditional “top down” information initiatives - e.g. the annual poster distribution. It was, however, agreed that the IUC should also develop “bottom-up” initiatives closer to the everyday life of potential new course directors and the possibility to develop new academic themes - both within well established academic subjects and within the international interdisciplinary fields (environment, cultural studies, post colonial studies, media science, etc).

On this backdrop the IUC found that our best ambassadors are probably the colleagues who have the experience - namely yourselves as course directors and organizers.

With the next newsletter will follow two contributions from the EC to facilitate such communication, namely

1) a flier which presents the IUC tradition, mission and setting 2) a more practical information on the process “From Idea to Course” for potential new curse directors.

This material will be in a practical format, due for local colleagues, various international networks, scientific communities, etc. If you agree to think of yourself as an “IUC-ambassador” this will save you a lot of talking!

IUC should not grow in quantity for the sake of being big. But the broader the academic scope, the more stimulating the atmosphere. The more nuanced the scope of national academic practices, the better participants’ experience of research fields’ changing with globalization will be.

Restructuring IUC website?

The IUC homepage could be more “user friendly” and inspiring. Depending on the funding possibilities for its re-designing, you may have a nice surprise when you click in next time.

Future Measures for Quality Improvement?

The IUC wants to improve or revitalize a number of measures for further development of the academic quality, for planning procedures and for evaluations/reports. We consider setting up an Academic Board to assist in upholding the IUC’s “overview” of the institution’s development.

We do not, however, want the task of course director to be bureaucratised. We accept that one of the huge pleasures of conducting the post-graduate courses at the IUC is often the intellectual autonomy that is offered. So it will be a delicate balance, and you’ll stay informed.

Thank you for your attention. 

Professor, Dr. Kirsten Weber (Roskilde, DK)Chair of Executive Committee on behalf of Executive Committee

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