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Teaching career-oriented competencies in humanities


Dr Amelie Bendheim

What is the significance of employability for studies in humanities and how can employability be funded through academic training? The project TALC_me, a strategic partnership funded by European universities under the Erasmus + program, has dealt with these questions. Dr Amelie Bendheim guides us through some of the project's results.

Dr Amelie Bendheim teaches and conducts research at the Institute for German language, literature and interculturalism.

 

What is Talc_me and who is involved in it?

Talc_me stands for ‘Textual and Literary Cultures in Medieval Europe, it is a European network which unites 13 partners, including ten European universities and three non-academic partners (the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Gutenberg Museum Mainz and the Institut Français Mainz). The network aims to channel competences used in working environments into teaching modules, to prepare students for future careers and to integrate them in an international network.

Especially in the field of historical studies, students perceive a disconnection between the requirements of labour market – including employability, vocational training – and everyday life in their studies. Many lack experience on how to apply their skills outside the university context.

Our main question, from the perspective of cultural and literary medieval studies, is : Which non-specific competences enable students to embark on a successful professional career ? We therefore developed guidelines for teaching career-oriented competences in the humanities (*).  These can also help shape future conception of study programs in related disciplines.

Projects such as talc_me may serve as the best-practice model for the implementation of future European projects that the field of humanities in particular urgently needs.

 

What impact do the results have on students, and does the University implement these results?

The greatest gain for our students were certainly the International Study Programs (ISP), which we offered for two weeks each at the universities of Porto, Palermo and Olomuc (Czech Republic). 30 students from universities in the network met with lecturers and business partners to discuss the development of European history, using cultural and literary topics of the Middle Ages. This concept was used as investigating European cultures and languages and their impact in shaping Europe becomes ever more relevant as the European future is questioned today.

The students especially appreciated the intensity and productivity of the practical projects we did in the ISP. We as lecturers were impressed by their creative, artistic and intellectual potential when they exchanged ideas in such a context. In reality, the academic agenda seldom leaves space for similar pedagogical concepts and it would be an important step to implement more regularly European-funding programs like the ISP into academic teaching.

 

How do humanities courses promote skills that are especially valuable for students entering the job market?

The Talc_me project will lead into an international master program (the Joint Master 'Transnational German Studies'), which is specialized on career orientation and acquisition of practical competences. Participants will study at four European universities (Luxembourg, Mainz, Palermo and Porto) and use medieval studies to build the necessary skills set for a future career.

The practical emphasis lies on the German Studies, with a particular focus on the pre-modern era. From a technical aspect, it will convey in-depth knowledge of European history, as the study of pre-nations Europe gives important insights into the management of a modern and contemporary Europe.

However, we also care to strengthen non-academic skills such as intercultural or language skills, as well as lead students to complete internships at a European institution. Furthermore, we will promote English language competences and philosophy. It is important for the graduates of this master to realise that they will be best prepared for the requirements of today's job market. Especially nowadays, when future developments are unclear, creative minds and lateral thinking become more important than ever.

 

*Please contact Amelie Bendheim for different language versions of the guidelines or print versions.

Please contact Amelie Bendheim or Prof Heinz Sieburg for more information.