«Moin Europa»

Europe Week 2023 at Europa-Universität Flensburg
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Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF) hosted Europe Week for the eighth time in mid-May 2023. Once again, the aim of the event was to raise awareness of and promote the internationalisation of teaching and research at EUF. It wanted to encourage students, lecturers and researchers to spend time abroad, examine European issues from different perspectives, bring Europe closer to members of the University community and celebrate diversity at EUF.

Portrait of Professor Dr Werner Reinhart, President of the European University of Flensburg
© C. Kloodt/Europa-Universität Flensburg
Democracy is not self-sustaining. It must be understood, defended, and advanced by each new generation. Currently we are seeing the extent to which democracy and the rule of law can be tested and challenged, even in Europe.As a university, we are deeply committed to educating a generation that understands Europe and defends European values such as the rule of law, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, as well as the rich diversity of its cultures. That is precisely why we opted for a Europe Week format centred on interdisciplinary exchange and encounter.
Professor Werner Reinhart, President of Europa-Universität Flensburg

A brief look back

Initial ideas about a university-wide event on the subject of Europe around Europe Day, on 9 May, were discussed in 2014, in other words the year in which Universität Flensburg became Europa-Universität Flensburg, recalls Ulrike Bischoff-Parker, then and now Head of International Office and Erasmus+ Institutional Coordinator. The ideas started to take shape in 2017 when plans were made to organise a «Europe Day». Thanks to NA DAAD funds to support university activities in celebration of the Erasmus programme’s 30th anniversary, the Europe Day quickly turned into an entire Europe Week. It included an Erasmus Info Day, Europe Forum, a workshop with selected Erasmus partners alongside a range of Europe-themed presentations and contributions. This was the start of a small success story, sums up Bischoff-Parker.

Poster for Europe Week 2023 with the logo of Europa-Universität Flensburg. It shows yellow lettering on a dark blue background with the following information in the text: Moin Europa - the Europe Week at the EUF. 9-12 May 2023, lectures, discussions, exhibitions, installations and simulation games. QR code for the entire programme

Europe Week at EUF


Organisation and content

At the instigation of the University administration, the eighth Europe Week took place from 9 to 12 May 2023 with the theme «Challenges of young people in Europe». Each year, a different central internationalisation unit at EUF – the Language Centre, the International Center, the International Degree Programme Coordinator – is responsible for coordinating the event. This year, it was the turn of the International Center. From 2024, permanent responsibility will lie with the European and International Affairs Officer, Dr Isabella Tegethoff. «By taking this step, we guarantee the continuity and efficiency of our planning and organisation,» explains Tegethoff, «because one person will be in charge of everything to do with the event management and members of the University will have a clear point of contact. This means we will be able to consolidate the success of Europe Week.»

What will not change, however, is that researchers, teachers and students will continue to organise their own contributions relating to the respective Europe Week theme, which highlights one aspect of Europeanisation. At the same time, they can address other international topics they consider relevant that go beyond the borders of Europe. This openness has proven successful over the years, stresses Tegethoff, and it guarantees that the programme is eventful and varied. «It gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and showcase the important international issues and projects they are currently working on.»

A wide-ranging programme

The four-day programme was correspondingly varied and consisted of lectures and discussions alongside information stands, presentations, projects and exhibitions, making the subject of Europe (above all) and selected aspects of Europeanisation more accessible to members of the University. A good example was the panel discussion organised by the Presidential Board at the beginning of the event entitled «Political polarisation, the future of education and young scholars in Europe». For the first time, only (national and international) students and doctoral candidates from EUF were invited to present their personal experiences, perspectives and insights at the event as guests.

The Europe Week was also a platform for artistic performances. On several days, four graduates and EUF students presented photos or videos they had produced during their Bachelor’s programme in European Cultures and Societies. They included Matic Germovšek Žnidaršič, who received an EUF prize in the category for outstanding achievements by international students for his photo project in 2021. Students of the Master’s programme in European Studies also put on an exhibition of works from the student photo competition «EU in My Life». 

Finally – to cite one example of a topic not related exclusively to Europe – a Module United Nations Simulation (MUN) took place during Europe Week. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 were the subject of the four-day MUN, which was initiated and organised solely by students.

Blue display walls with information on various countries can be seen in one of the university buildings. Students sit in front of them, appearing to answer questions from other students who are taking advantage of the "International Village" programme.
© S. Mosmann/Europa-Universität Flensburg

In the International Village during Europe Week 2023, EUF students and former outgoing students presented different countries including Chile, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Ghana, Uzbekistan, Yemen, the US, France, the Russian Federation, Iran, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the People’s Republic of China and Ukraine.

Information about periods abroad

Key elements of the programme were various events about opportunities to spend periods abroad, not least with Erasmus+ − according to Ulrike Bischoff-Parker «‹the› most important programme at Europa-Universität Flensburg that supports mobility and helps establish and implement partnerships». These were organised by the International Center and by students and student organisations such as the Flensburg Local Erasmus+ Initiative (LEI) Erasmus Adventure.

For example, there was an International Village where international students and former outgoing students, who have used or are still using Erasmus+, stimulated interest in the cultures of the target countries and possible periods abroad and answered questions about the education programme on a peer-to-peer basis. At an information stand and during a presentation on Erasmus+, LEI representatives explained how students can get involved in the programme on campus (internationalisation at home). The EUF outgoing team, in turn, provided information about exchange opportunities at the University, and former outgoing students, including Erasmus alumnae and alumni, spoke about their experiences at another event.

Aerial view of the Europa-Universität Flensburg campus with car parks, buildings and extensive green spaces
© C. Berger/Europa-Universität Flensburg

Around 6,200 students were enrolled at Europa-Universität Flensburg in the winter semester 2022/2023. Of the University’s total population, 7 percent were from abroad and more than 70 percent were women.

A positive balance despite ongoing challenges

These offers were well received and, from the point of view of the organisers, Europe Week as a whole was a success once again. Bischoff-Parker and Tegethoff consider the commitment of the University management to be one of the main reasons for this, since it makes all stakeholders aware of the importance of the event and its significance for the University. Another reason is the event’s thematic flexibility, in other words the opportunity to offer something not directly related to the annual theme. This increases people’s motivation to get involved. Another reason is EUF’s manageable size – the University had around 6,250 students and 780 employees in teaching and administration in 2022 – which enables contributors and administrators to make many valuable personal contacts and benefits the realisation of Europe Week. 

What could have been done differently? The organisers would have liked to have seen stronger attendance and even greater student participation. However, clashes with courses and general workload prevented this. And as Isabella Tegethoff emphasises, it has generally been more difficult to bring students back onto campus since the pandemic and to also reach them with Europe Week. Tegethoff and her colleagues from the Department of European and International Affairs hope to remedy this by boosting promotional measures on social media. They also plan to start preparations earlier in order to get more people involved and to receive feedback in good time. «The Europe Week format is dynamic and constantly evolving. We learn something every year and we’re open to new ideas in line with our claim that we are a dynamic University in a state of continuous learning and development,» says Tegethoff. 

© C. Kloodt/Europa-Universität Flensburg
Our annual Europe Week is the flagship event at Europa-Universität Flensburg, when the university celebrates the European spirit and highlights the rich multidimensionality of its cross-border research and teaching on behalf of justice, sustainability, and diversity. Each year, Europe Week features a unique thematic focus that draws attention to various aspects of Europeanisation and brings them closer to the members of our campus. By involving all levels of the university, we create room for students, lecturers and researchers to engage in diverse ways, thus bringing the concept of ‹Europe› into reach of everyone as an experiential reality.
Professor Ulrich Glassmann, Vice President for Europe and International Affairs at Europa-Universität Flensburg

Looking to the future

Tegethoff believes in the fundamental sense and purpose of Europe Week, not least because of her experiences in 2023. «The event helps internationalise the University. It enables students and staff to experience Europe and it paves the way for a European identity. And in the long term, it will hopefully lead to more applications for Erasmus+ periods abroad,» she says on behalf of the University.

Dr Isabella Tegethoff
European and International Affairs Officer at Europa-Universität Flensburg
Susanne Reich
EU05 – Communication and Student Engagement for Europe
Marcus Klein