Geographical change in Team Internationales
Since 1.10.2022, there have been two new contact persons for Geography in the Internationalisation Team of the Department of Earth Sciences and Geography: Jun.-Prof. Sakura Yamamura and Mona Ziemes. They replaced Prof. Pfaffenbach and Claudia Lütkehoff at the beginning of the winter semester.
Prof. Yamamura, what is important to you as Internationalisation Officer for the Department of Geography? What further developments are you planning?
I see a lot of potential for internationalisation in the department, especially since geography as a discipline is inherently interdisciplinary and internationally oriented, and accordingly all lecturers also conduct international research. The students' interest in having a more international degree programme also seems to be there. It is important for internationalisation to be supported by all departments and to be built up strategically step by step.
For me, the first step was to anchor a regular offer of English-language courses in the Bachelor's programme so that students coming from school remain in contact with the English language. We have now established parallel methods courses as well as alternating physical and human geography main seminars and in-depth lectures. We have also now clearly communicated this international orientation and efforts to the outside world in our RWTH degree programme brochure - which is another important point, namely communicating to the outside world that we are (or want to become) international so that this also arouses interest among students and prospective students accordingly. The second step is the introduction of a blended learning course for "Academic Writing in English" in cooperation with the Writing Centre, so that students are supported in getting used to writing in English and teachers can concentrate on the subject matter and not become English teachers.
With this English-language package in the Bachelor's programme, I hope to be able to establish new Erasmus partnerships with geographical institutes abroad, as the exchange programme currently has a strong geoscientific or physical-geographical focus. For students with a human and economic geography orientation, I would like to find new partnerships in the Erasmus programme. The next steps I have in mind are the train-the-trainer measures for teachers, so that the mid-level faculty can also overcome their fear of teaching in English, and the expansion of the English-language courses in the Master's programme. Only then can further interesting, e.g. international research-based teaching or international project work with students be realised across the disciplines.
Ms Ziemes, you have already been the contact person for ERASMUS for the department. Why is this subject area so close to your heart?
"The most dangerous world view is the world view of people who have never looked at the world" (Alexander von Humboldt 1769 - 1859).
After graduating from high school, I was an au pair in Spain (Madrid) and an Erasmus student in the Netherlands (Arnhem) for one semester. The main reason was to learn the national languages. It was also nice to make international friends, which in two cases still exist today - almost 30 years later. It was also interesting to see the country (in your free time, of course J), which you wouldn't have done from Germany (e.g. I didn't study geography or earth sciences).
But in the end, that's not what fascinated me about a stay abroad and what I think is the most important thing. That's just the nice side effect. The most important experience is to realise that it doesn't matter where you come from, we all have the same thoughts, wishes, emotions and ideas about life. A stay abroad changes your view of the world, broadens your horizons and makes you more independent. It is an enriching life experience.
Why my commitment to Erasmus? Personally, I'm a fan of the diversity of Europe and I'm thrilled about the extent of the Erasmus programme. If I were studying nowadays, I would go abroad for 2 semesters in my Bachelor's degree and 2 semesters in my Master's degree. And see if I could do my Master's internship abroad with the Erasmus internship funding.
The Department of Earth Sciences and Geography is looking forward to working with Jun.-Prof. Yamamura and Ms Ziemes and would like to thank Prof. Pfaffenbach and Ms Lütkehoff for their commitment.