Engaging in “Training and Education”

Plenary session, Monday, 23rdSeptember 2013, 14:00-15:30, I-201 Conference Hall, 2nd floor

Universities continue to be the key site for training and educating the next generation of SSH scholars and researchers. Therefore, the structure, governance and modes of funding of universities are of prime importance. So is the rapid advancement of new technologies. New kinds of data and new ways of data collection and analysis are now available and open new opportunities for research, but also for education. This session highlights the potential innovations both in the relation of teaching and learning, but also in the close relation of teaching, training and research.

Keynote: Ineke Sluiter, Leiden University, Netherlands
Comment: Manja Klemenčič, Harvard University, USA
Comment: Thomas Bräuninger, University of Mannheim, Germany
Moderator: Gustavo Cardoso, Lisbon University, Portugal

Ineke Sluiter, Leiden University,  Netherlands
Anchoring Innovation
In Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), maybe more than in any other academic domain, a direct relationship between teaching and research is crucial. On this basis, I will argue three points. First, I will advocate a new model to calculate funding for SSH research based on the importance of its teaching for society.  For instance, there are domains in society that are crucial for the free flow of information, which largely rely on SSH graduates. The academic quality of these graduates is dependent on a form of training that is deeply informed by research and that conveys an intimate understanding of evidence-based information. This necessitates a base-level of research funding for SSH on the strength precisely of its role in teaching. My second and related point is to advocate the notion of undergraduate research and the importance of acquiring a ‘digital portfolio’. Finally, using the example of OIKOS, the research school of Dutch classicists, I will discuss the research project Anchoring Innovation to illustrate the interconnectedness of outreach, fundamental research and training of a new generation of researchers and SSH graduates with a deep understanding of their own immediate relevance to urgent societal issues.

Manja Klemenčič, Harvard University, the United States of America 
The Role of Students in Promoting Innovation in Teaching and Learning
My comments will focus on the proposition that a reinforced support is needed in Europe to promote and initiate innovation in effective learning and teaching. This is true for all the sciences, as it is true for arts and humanities, which define our civilisation and culture, and social sciences, which contribute to our understanding of societies we live in and people we are. Ample research on student success and on achieving ‘deep learning’ point to the benefits of student engagement in the classroom; working on concrete problems and activity-based learning. The challenge is how to achieve this within large lectures which are a typical mode of instruction at our universities and universally. Some basic questions need to be answered: How is teaching valuated as compared to research productivity? What opportunities and resources do academics have to improve, advance, and innovate in their teaching and learning?

Second, I wish to emphasise the importance of civic education, which is nurtured in Social Sciences and Humanities, but needs to be diffused across the entire university. Civic education is more than just the capacity to analyse public problems and understand own rights and responsibilities. It also creates space for students to reflect on the ethical consequences of their own actions, and those that come with entrepreneurship and invention. The questions I wish to raise here are: How is it possible to conduct civic education at universities? And how is it possible to do so across disciplines if we acknowledge the compartmentalisation of research interests of the professoriate?

Thomas Bräuninger, University of Mannheim, Germany
Training for Research
My starting point will be that doctoral education and research are key elements in the advancement of our disciplines. Doctoral training prepares the next generation of scholars but doctoral research also advances knowledge through original research. But undergraduate studies and most Master programs leave doctoral students largely unprepared for doctoral research. I will argue that we need a substantial change in the way we think of, organize and institutionalize doctoral training. The role model is that of a (good) US graduate school but involves many other things, e.g. mobility of doctoral researchers, better recognition of doctoral training as “training for research” in funding initiatives etc. Then I will proceed to the issue of methods education. The Social Sciences – on the one hand – are empirical sciences, ideally combining rigorous theorizing and broad empirical evidence in the pursuit to generate a deep and general understanding of social processes. The past 30 years or so have seen tremendous advancements in the development of new methods of data generation and analysis. New ways of data collection and new types of data, “big data”, is an important issue, also to the Humanities, as they have to potential / make the promise that we can answer open questions, and raise new, hitherto unthinkable questions. Apart from these more visible and (publicly) noticeable developments in data availability, here are huge advancements in the development of empirical research methods, both quantitative and qualitative methods. What is striking here is that in many Social Sciences and Humanities, a large part of the scholarly discussion and literature centres around improving the understanding of an issue using the same theories and the same data but very different empirical methods. I will argue that in Europe, methods training in many fields of the SSH lacks behind and that we need new initiatives for the advancement of curricula at all level of university education in order to fully exploit this potential.

Moderator: Gustavo Cardoso, Lisbon University, Portugal