Peer-Mentoring: Support for first-year students at the Faculty of Sustainability

2020-10-19 In view of the corona pandemic, first-year students can expect a special start to their studies. In order to meet the challenges, the Faculty of Sustainability is expanding an already existing and successful peer-mentoring program to make it easier for students of Environmental Sciences and Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies to start their studies.

"Mentoring is an important instrument for the entry of students into the academic world", explains Prof. Dr. Matthias Barth, main director of the Major Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies, "and under the conditions of the Corona Pandemic it is even more important to give students the opportunity to exchange experiences". In the winter semester 2020/2021, the new first-year students of Environmental Sciences and Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies will be assisted by students from higher semesters as so-called peer mentors. Because, "when peer mentors share their own experiences, we have found it to be very powerful."

Trained peer mentors will supervise a small group of first-year students and provide orientation in the first semester. The exchange on organizational questions during the studies and the joint reflection of the learning process is central. Franca Lersch, a coordinator of the project, also explains: "The purpose of peer mentoring has been expanded by the pandemic, organizational issues remain relevant, but the aim is also to enable the mentees to get to know each other and make friends". After all, this is often not enough in the case of online events during studies.

In the winter semester 2019/20, a peer mentoring program for Major Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies was launched as a pilot project - originally with the intention of providing orientation in an interdisciplinary study program with a wide range of choices and combinations and to support international students in their entry into the program. Carolin Zofall took part in the pilot project as a first-year student at the time: "It was very helpful because it made it easier to start the first semester. Our mentors were always open and were able to support us in study-related topics and it was possible to get to know other students," she adds. "In online studies you are often left to your own devices, so peer mentoring will be helpful in the coming winter semester.