The intensive study programmes promote structured transnational cooperation, linked to the key four pillars of the project. Bringing together students and teachers to work together intensively in a multinational and multidisciplinary setting brings new perspectives on the topic studied. Furthermore, the intensive study programmes provided teaching staff with the possibility of exchanging views on teaching content, new curricula approaches, innovative teaching methods, development of joint courses and curriculum. Building on the work at the intensive study programmes, blended mobility activities were utilized to promote the professional transversal engagement of staff and students. This contributed to the removal of artificial boundaries and promoted capacity building and cross-national synergies, as well as inter-European collaboration on small states studies.
Small State Winter School in Vilnius, 25 – 29 January 2016
In Vilnius, the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University in collaboration with the Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland organised an intensive five day winter course, focusing on the changes in the security environment after the annexation of Crimea and their impact on small states in Europe. 14 students from all six partner-schools, the University of Copenhagen, University of St. Andrews, Vilnius University, Tallinn University of Technology, University of Malta, and the University of Iceland, attended the Small States Winter School in Vilnius.
The main goal of the course was to provide a platform to discuss the security issues in Eastern Europe after the annexation of Crimea and its impact on small states. The winter school aimed to bring together advanced bachelor, master and doctoral students, along with academic scientists, researchers and experts to share their views and practical insights on how small states can best cope with current threats and build social resilience.
The Winter School in Vilnius is an excellent example of the benefits gained when universities work together on an international level across borders. It was a rewarding experience to be able to meet students from various parts of the world to exchange views and ideas – both in studies as well as on a personal level. In addition to hearing excellent lectures and participating in discussions, I met and got to know new people – which is the best part of programs such as this one. I am still in contact with many of them and have even gone on a visit to some. Not least because of this do I consider it a privilege to have been able to take part in this project.
Small State Summer School in Reykjavik, 22 June – 4 July 2015 and 20 June – 2 July 2016
The consortium hosted two intensive study programs in Iceland, in the summer of 2015 and 2016. 24 students from all six partner-schools attended each programme.
My study experience in Iceland was truly an exciting one, not only because we were given the opportunity to visit stunning locations like the Blue Lagoon, but also because we were being taught by academics whom I had continuously cited in my work throughout my years at University. In addition to this, studying with students who are coming from different educational backgrounds and cultures added to my experience in Iceland, primarily because I was able to listen to first hand accounts of how other small European States function. Lastly, exploring Icelandic traditions and key political features was also a highlight of my study-trip in Iceland.
The programmes were central in reaching the projects objectives of developing ICT teaching material and creating open online courses. The summer schools used Moodle and Facebook to develop the ICT teaching material. Teachers uploaded their reading material to the Moodle page along with an abstract of their lecture and reflections and questions. This created an online hub that the students used to prepare for lectures and study for the exams. In addition, Facebook groups were created as part of all the intensive study programs where students exchange ideas and thoughts on their studies. This created a more dynamic relationship between the students as they not only met in the classroom to exchange their views, but also on the Facebook page. The program of the summer schools furthermore served as the basis of the open online courses created by the consortium. Lectures were recorded and teachers were asked to give short summaries and introductions to their lectures that were then used for the open online courses. Material from the Moodle page was also used for these courses.
First of all, I was delighted to discover a new country with its peculiar traditions, open and sincere people. As a part of the school, I gained numerous opportunities to get to know policy makers of Iceland. I had a privilege to have a conversation with the Secretary of State, as well as meeting other speakers during lectures, such as the Prime Minister of Montenegro. At the same time, I found my experience challenging and therefore, strengthened my skills in research. I learned how to use my time wisely, how to grasp a broad scope of material in very little time and how to fit in the deadlines. This experience benefits me in my current study in the University of Saint Andrews, as well as helps me with the acquired knowledge about small states. I feel fortunate to have had a chance to strengthen my skills, as well as to see such a beautiful country. I hope many other students will get a chance to become participants of Small State Summer school.