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VirtualLAS – DAAD International Virtual Academic Cooperation (IVAC) Project

UCF has launched the VirtualLAS teaching project, funded by the DAAD International Virtual Academic Collaboration Program. 

VirtualLAS focuses on collaborative, digitally based teaching, and student-instructor dialogue as well as on intercultural competencies and team-working skills.

Overall project aims

Access to education and participation in academic dialogue have taken on an increasingly global dimension. Digitalization opens numerous opportunities for academic collaboration that far exceed the geographical, political, and social boundaries of traditional teaching and learning. In order to incorporate these aspects in our curriculum, University College Freiburg has launched the VirtualLAS program with the support of DAAD's International Virtual Academic Collaboration 2020-2021.

VirtualLAS focusses on collaborative, digitally based teaching and student-instructor dialogue as well as intercultural competencies and team-working skills. The project is particularly suited to strengthen students’ understanding of global responsibility, diversity, and interculturality. VirtualLAS ultimately aims to:

  • expand our internationalization endeavors into the virtual domain and to increase internationalization at home for our students;
  • develop, pilot, and evaluate unique student-centered formats of virtual international learning together with our international partners;
  • assess and document the results together with our international partners for consolidation;
  • foster learning and transfer of these student-centered formats of virtual international learning to other credit-bearing courses at UCF, the University of Freiburg, and international partners.

Courses and partners

We will pilot and evaluate the innovative and collaborative VirtualLAS teaching formats using three projects and courses on the topics of: (1) Pandemics in History, (2) Sustainable Cities, and the (3) European Union Rising Up to Challenges. These will be conducted with the following partners:

VirtualLAS Courses to be developed

(1) Pandemics in History

pandemics.pngIn a joint credit-bearing course, 12 students (at the advanced Bachelor and beginning Master level) from three partner institutions will develop a 360°-view of six different pandemics that occurred in human history: Tuberculosis, Influenza, Dengue, SARS/Covid 19, HIV, antimicrobial resistance. Each pandemic will be covered by one expert who also serves as a mentor for the students. Expert-mentors will be recruited from the partners’ networks. Six international student pairs will each explore one pandemic and compare its consequences as well as measures taken against them in different parts of the world. In addition, students will gain insights into public health institutions (WHO, CDC, RKI etc.). Students will get different perspectives on pandemics, which are of global concern, while measures against them are usually taken on a national level.

(2) Sustainable Cities

sustainable.pngIn this credit-bearing course, 20 students located in different European cities (at the advanced Bachelor and beginning Master level) will explore what it takes to develop a city sustainably, including challenges and possible solutions.

As an exemplary city, students will go on a virtual excursion to Copenhagen with a specific focus on Copenhagen’s sustainable urban design.Additionally, city planners and sustainability experts will be invited to the course so that students have the possibility to directly exchange ideas with them. Equipped with excellent background information, students will go out in their respective city and compare their findings to what has been discussed in class.

Students will create a virtual tour on sustainability measures in their cities by producing a video. Overall, they will be able to explore the video tours of different cities together during the course and get first-hand insights on the sustainable development of different cities in Europe.

(3) European Union Rising up to Current Challenges

eu.pngThis is a joint credit-bearing course for 45 students (at the advanced Bachelor and beginning Master level) from four partner institutions. With a particular focus on the social, economic and political challenges to the European Union, heightened by the current pandemic, the course seeks to engage students in an exploration and exchange on such topics as:

  • democratic governance and rule of law in crisis and emergency situations;
  • economic and social solidarity challenged by differentiated impact of crises on member states;
  • the future of mobility and open borders;
  • social and economic sustainability;
  • EU speaking with one voice in the global arena.

The course takes an explicit comparative approach, combining insights from Central Europe (Germany, UCF), Northern Europe (Sweden, Lund University) and Eastern Europe (Nicolaus Copernicus University and Jagiellonian University, Poland). It will furthermore be interdisciplinary and combine political science, legal studies and sociology insights, drawing on the expertise of the instructors from the partner institutions.

Contacts at UCF