2016 SPRING CALL WINNERS
Environmnetal Sciences and Policy
Growing Knowledge on the CEU Edible Rooftop
One part of CEU’s sustainability mission is to include a community-managed urban garden as a permanent part of the CEU campus, which will be completed at the end of Phase I of the campus redevelopment project in August 2016. This has the potential to become an outdoor classroom and centrepiece for experiential learning, not only about gardening, but also for students to learn how to teach sustainability skills to others, and learn to reflect upon their own learning and teaching. Experiential learning is based on the premise that students must complement hands-on practical learning with reflection on how they can connect these issues to their academic learning and self-growth.
The proposed project is to experiment with different methods for experiential student learning in a three-part course Organic Gardening and Local Food Systems (a revision of the current 2-credit course Organic Gardening practicum). Each module will use a different means for improving and assessing experiential learning for linking sustainability theory and practice: reflective writing; hands-on doing and planning; and hands-on experience and peer teaching. The three components will complement one another, together achieving these learning outcomes: 1) understand complexities of organic garden planning and practices and small farm management; 2) apply theoretical knowledge of organic farming and gardening systems in real world settings; and 3) learn to share basic gardening skills with other students.
Fall: Seed to Seed module (1 credit or voluntary module depending on departmental schedule)
This module, to be held soon after student arrival in Budapest, will have a thematic focus on harvesting and seed-saving. It will give students the experience of participating in a work-day on an organic farm in full bloom, and to learn about the importance of seed-saving for biodiversity protection. Students will also have the chance to participate in garden volunteer days in the fall to set up the new CEU rooftop garden. Students will write a reflective essay about what they learned from the farm and school garden experience and what questions it raised for them about the CEU rooftop garden potential and about Budapest local food systems. Instructors will explore affective learning objectives, by assessing what students care about and how their initial perspectives on gardening were changed by the field experience, and incorporate student questions into the next two modules.
Winter: Organic Garden Planning and Design Module (1 credit)
This will be a more theoretical class with a focus on permaculture principles, soil management and urban composting techniques, crop rotation and garden planning, and local food systems. Students will have a chance to meet with Budapest farm, garden, and market managers and hear about the challenges they face. The students’ main task will be to make a garden design plan for the spring CEU rooftop garden, justifying their choices, thus integrating various aspects of the theory they have learned. We will have a reflective discussion at the end about what they learned from the process of garden planning and document student responses to assess from which activities they learned the most and what was the most difficult part of the design process. Instructors will focus on the cognitive learning objectives of ensuring that students understand and can put into practice the foundations of garden planning to set them up well for the field course.
Spring: Organic Garden Management Field Module (1 credit, with prerequisite of the Garden Planning module)
This is primarily a field class. Students will both participate in a field day on an organic farm in the spring planting season, in order to see the difference in seasons from the fall workday, and learn specific tasks on the farm related to soil fertility, weed and pest control, planting, and harvesting. They will then organize several volunteer days on the CEU rooftop garden where they teach those skills to students for managing the CEU garden. Students will write blog entries about the volunteer days they organize, as well as a reflective essay about what they learned from putting their garden plans into place and from teaching others. Instructors will focus on behavioural learning objectives, of assessing how well students are able to both implement and explain to others the importance of certain gardening practices.
At the end of each module instructors will make a summary and reflection of what they observed in helping students move through these various activities, and what they learned and would change in the next years. We will work together with the Centre for Learning and Teaching to design student evaluation of these new activities and design ways to assess student learning after each phase of the class, in order to compare how learning changes or deepens moving from theory to practice, and from individual practice to teaching others, as well as from teaching to their own reflective practice about these activities.
The expected result of this course re-design is that it will improve three types of experiential learning: through 1) hands-on practical gardening work and discussions with farmers; 2) experiencing the role of task manager and teacher in passing on skills to the wider CEU community, and 3) monitoring and reflecting upon their own learning and teaching as a key component for embodying sustainability skills and practice in the garden, classroom, and professional life after CEU.
All activities will be developed and conducted together by Guntra Aistara and Logan Strenchok (to be hired with assignment contract for specific tasks), as he combines experience as an alumnus of our department, with a deep knowledge of CEU's campus vision from his work as CEU's Sustainability Officer, and his volunteer work coordinating learning activities at Zsambok farm. At least some of the field visits will take place at this farm, managed by Matthew Hayes, an organic gardener with over thirty years of experience in organic farming.
International Relations/Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations
Teaching interpretive methods in interdisciplinary International Relations classrooms
The rationale behind this project is the need to increase practical teaching and evaluation capacities in interpretive methods in International Relations (IR) at the CEU vis-à-vis the growing importance of such methods in the study of international politics in the global academia and in policy research. The mainstreaming of interpretive methods has not found an adequate institutional expression at the CEU, which is a limitation with distinct yet dissimilar implications at the MA and PhD levels. The overall aim of this project is hence twofold: (1) to reflect on, add to, and further operationalise the teaching experience in interpretive methods in IR of two instructors, Anatoly Reshetnikov (TA) teaching at the MA level and Xymena Kurowska (faculty), teaching at the PhD level; and (2) thus enhance the quality of our own teaching as well as provide concrete guidelines for improving methodological training and contribute to methodological pluralism within the IR department and at the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations (DS).
There are three main challenges that this project intends to address:
(1) How to teach methods which, by their nature, evade the possibility of being taught through traditional teaching techniques and the use of ready-made templates? The unorthodoxy of interpretive methods tends to create the misunderstanding that they are obscure. We suggest that one way to tackle this is to teach by analysing examples (good and bad) of interpretivist approach in action, yet not for the sake of copying their analytical sequence, but in order to get a better understanding of the underlying assumptions of such analysis and the practical consequences of adopting them;
(2) How to evaluate the progress of students’ learning if their perfect or imperfect adherence to some step-by-step analytical template cannot be established? How to create a fair grading rubric? And, if it is not possible, how to insure fair grading in general? While we do not have a ready response to this challenge, our plan is to review teaching and learning literature that speaks to evaluation strategies adopted by more unorthodox disciplines that usually produce non-replicable output (e.g. in arts and humanities);
(3) How to go about teaching interpretive methods in an IR classroom composed of students with interdisciplinary backgrounds who also pursue interdisciplinary projects? This is a common yet an underappreciated situation in our practice, calling for a particular teaching sensibility. Substantively, we will aim to address it by collecting and working with a variety of examples from adjacent disciplines. However, in order to better gauge the range of interdisciplinarity we will also design some experimental practice to be implemented in the classroom to chart such research interests among the students at the outset of a course.
Given these challenges and questions, the project foresees the following components:
1. the summary of the aspects of interpretive research design to be covered with regard to MA and PhD training;
2. the literature review of interpretive scholarship in International Relations, International Political Sociology, International Political Economy, Global Public Policy, International Public Law and International History in order to identify marked examples of productive and non-productive use of interpretive methods;
3. the review of teaching and learning literature that discusses learning evaluation in arts and humanities;
4. a package of exercises and examples for classroom use;
5. a conference paper that discusses both teaching interpretive methods in interdisciplinary IR and the collaborative process that underpins this project.
Department of Mathematics and Center for Network Science
Teaching to program with challenges, games and hands-on sessions
Since last year, the Math Department at CEU offers a course in “Scientific Python”, instructed by me, aimed at teaching Python to students who have already a quantitative background (e.g. students in Network Science, Math, Economics, Cognitive Science). Last year I noticed that teaching this course with the usual face-to-face approach is not extremely effective. Indeed, although there is a theory of “programming”, learning to program in python with theoretical classes is like learning to cook from reading cookbooks only. On top of that, last year the attending students have exhibited since the first day a very diverse algorithmic background, with skill differences that resulted in boring classes for the most advanced students, or in hard classes to follow for those that were previously less exposed to coding.
For this reason, I intend to implement a different way of teaching python, by using “a learning by doing” approach and having programming challenges and programming games during classes.
Rather than using the typical “theory” classes, followed by homework and assignments, I will proceed by teaching from day 1 a very short introduction to each topic, followed by practical examples, hands on sessions and programming challenges, opportunely designed to learn and to accommodate the different programming skills of the students. I will take inspiration from online platforms to develop programming skills, like http://adventofcode.com/, https://www.codecademy.com/, https://checkio.org/, www.codewars.com.
To implement this teaching approach, I ask support for an assistant, who will perform the following tasks, closely supervised by me:
- Testing programming challenges, based on datasets, before being used in class;
- Elaborating the results of a survey, to get feedback from students;
- Assisting during classes, observing and taking notes of the reaction of students involved in the programming challenges.
Please note that I also submitted another teaching development grant, together with colleagues at ECON, to teach data skills to students without quantitative background. Although the project might sound similar – the ultimate goal for both is indeed to teach programming and handling data –, the teaching methodology that I need to develop here is different. Indeed, in the present proposal the teaching methodology is aimed at students with quantitative background, and the teaching approach requires a different preparation, is based on different materials, and classes will have a different structure.
JUMP: A cross-cultural management and integrity education game
I would like to develop a new tool for teaching integrity and cross-cultural management related topics through a simulation game developed and tested by course students themselves. The main educational purpose of the project is to observe and monitor how students deal with the complex task of developing the integrity management scenarios in the game. Taking advantage of the multicultural composition of the MBA and Executive MBA programs of the Business School, the project will draw on the personal sensitivity of students to intercultural management issues such as communication, motivation and power, all within an integrity theoretical framework. Students will engage creatively and systematically with the game development by creating small teams for which the development will make up the final course assignment. Hence, at the end of the tasks, students will be evaluated according to their performance, originality and commitment.
JUMP is a business simulation game for managing integrity in multicultural environments. The player takes the role of a manager who has to jump to the right decision in a number of decision-making processes within a limited amount of time. These decisions will be set in different cultural environments and/or in interaction with a number of persons of different cultural origin. At the end of the game, the player will be assessed on three indexes representing respectively: an intercultural management, integrity and compliance score.
The content of the game is to be provided by the students of two courses held by the instructor at CEU Business School (“The socio-cultural dimensions of global management”, “Integrity in business”). The students will experiment the game as a learning tool in its initial paper version and will contribute to its development under the guidance of the instructor in three steps. In the first step, students will be required to identify a number of issues that are the most relevant for the management of integrity in a company, and they will do this by crowd sourcing through an online survey the best items as previously listed by all the class. Then, the participants will develop a number of sequential small scenarios of intercultural management, integrity and compliance. Later, the script of the scenario will be produced first in hard and later on an online version. Finally, the list of the possible choices and their contingencies in the game will be tested upon coherence and made part of a book game. For funding reasons, the software development of the game may constitute a subsequent project.