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Personal responsiblity in one's studies: Leuphana leads European partnership for Higher Education of the future

2017-11-20 Leuphana has brought together six renowned universities in Europe to apply themselves to an important venture: to reconcile university studies with 21st century realities and challenges. This has led to the EU-funded strategic partnership "CREATES - Creating Responsive, Engaged, and Tailored Education with Students".

This is not only the attitude of Dr. Volker Balli, Academic Director of Studium Individuale at Leuphana, but also of the EU Commission. It has therefore formulated an ambitious goal: teaching at Europe's universities must be reformed to provide a high-quality, future-oriented education. Leuphana University of Lüneburg is actively pursuing this enterprise by initiating the strategic partnership CREATES within the framework of the European Erasmus+ Programme: together with higher education representatives from King's College London, Maastricht University, Sciences Po Paris, the University of Freiburg, and the Scuola Superiore Sant' Anna in Pisa, Leuphana University of Lüneburg aims, as lead institution, to make a significant contribution to an innovative understanding of studying. “Our approach rests on the fact that students’ fundamental, systematic participation and responsibility forms the basis of firmly anchored learning and working routines” explains Balli, who initiated the European project and now coordinates it.

CREATES is a three-year project under Vice-President Prof. Dr. Carola Schormann’s professorial leadership and focuses on students as responsible actors. Making committed, creative and reflective individual action a priority means that learning and teaching practices should be further developed. In view of the present and future challenges posed by an increasingly confusing world, project managers are not only concerned with employability at the end of their studies, but also with personal development: CREATES is based on the assumption that, in the 21st century, one of the most fundamental competencies will have to be assuming responsibility for one's own education, and for life not only as a citizen, but also as a private individual. The aim of the partnership is to place this competence a central position within studies.

“Renowned institutions with lots of experience”

The strategic partnership has begun in recent years: all six universities have, in different forms, developed and implemented new approaches to learning. These similarities have already led to cooperation among themselves in the past. “Especially with regard to learning development, these are exclusively renowned institutions with a great deal of experience” says Balli. CREATES’s first meeting was held at the end of October in Leuphana’s Main Building of. In addition to getting to know each other as a consortium, the aim was to clarify open questions regarding the programme and its implementation. Over the next three years, experts from various development teams will be working on specific problem areas. These include issues, such as how to better organise seminars and courses with students’ participation or how to shape support for study programmes which allow a high degree of self-determination. The aim is to create transferable toolkits that enable context-sensitive implementation in other universities.

In the last year of the strategic partnership, the parties involved want to turn more towards the outside world. Decision-makers from politics and higher education should be informed about the relevance of this type of study. “We will present a policy paper to key stakeholders among other places in Brussels, stating why we consider these new educational approaches to be the right ones and how they can be implemented well” explains Volker Balli. He is also concerned with eliminating recurring misunderstandings: “For example, we hear time and again that such learning concepts lack professionalism. They offer them in the form of an individualised expertise that can be continually updated – and much more: a set of central competencies and, last but not least, the experience of being active designers rather than passive consumers of one's own university education”.


Dr. Volker Balli
Universitätsallee 1, C8.101a
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1797

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