Curricula development and teaching practices
Teaching staff of the Johan Skytte Institute employs a variety of teaching practices to ensure the quality of teaching, and to advance the obtainment of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills among the students. Our staff is also involved in different practices and cooperation networks – at the Institute level, within the University of Tartu as well as internationally – in order to develop new approaches to teaching and learning in higher education, and to update or renew the existing ones.
As a result, newer approaches to teaching like the flipped classroom format, courses developed using the concept of problem-based learning, simulations, role plays and other interactive study methods have been increasingly used by the teaching staff of the Institute to offer our students a good learning experience. Our staff has also been actively engaged in the development of the University of Tartu’s good practice of teaching.
Scholarship of good teaching
The efforts made by the teaching staff recognized not only within the Institute itself, but also on the University level through the awarding of good teaching grants.
In 2015 a good teaching grant was awarded to Dr. Alar Kilp, lecturer in Comparative Politics and the programme manager of the Government and Politics BA curriculum, who aims to enhance students’ understanding of the concept of ‘conflict’, develop a threshold of understanding among students and help them reach the next level of learning. Dr. Alar Kilp paper „Discussion-based Teaching as a Means of Improving the Understanding of Threshold Concepts in Political Science“ is dedicated to outcomes of his research.
In 2016, Dr. Stefano Braghiroli, lecturer and a programme manager of the European Union – Russia Studies and European Studies MA programmes, was also awarded a good teaching grant. His idea is to test the impact of different aspects of problem-based learning (PBL) on students’ learning process through conducting surveys during his courses to see how each aspect of the PBL influences the students’ learning. The aim is to analyze how non-orthodox learning approaches can change the way students learn.
In 2018, Thomas Linsenmaier, lecturer and Junior Research Fellow at the Institute, received the good teaching grant. He was one of three lecturers in the Faculty of Social Sciences to receive the scholarship and will be using the scholarship to study and improve the use of e-technologies in problem-based teaching.
A crucial part of any successful and constructive curriculum is essentially designing relevant, engaging and stimulating teaching and learning activities, which would motivate both lecturers and students. That is why our own curricula are always reviewed and updated in order to be abreast of the times.
From 2014 onwards, all of the MA programmes offered by the Institute underwent serious reform to address the expectations of our prospective students, as well as highlight the multicultural background and the strengths and competences of our teaching staff. More about curricula reform read here: External evaluation of the curricula group of social sciences or here: Reform at European Studies and EU-Russia studies curricula (2014-2016).
International cooperation in the curricula development
Numerous international contacts and activities allow the curriculum group of social sciences to engage in the field of curricula development on the international level. As an example, the double degree programmes related to the Baltic Sea Region Studies curriculum and a joint degree programme are the most enhanced and internationally integrated at the University of Tartu. Several double degree programmes are offered at the institute, which allow MA programme students obtain two degrees: one from the University of Tartu and the other from one of the partner institutions.
- International Masters in Economy, State and Society (IMESS)
- International Master's in Russian, Central and East European Studies (IMRCEES)
- Joint degree in Central and East European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (CEERES)
- Double degree Master’s programme in International Relations and East European Studies
- Masters in European Studies (TACES)
- International Masters in Baltic-Black Sea region studies (BBSR)
The institute participates in different cooperation networks not only to improve and develop our own curricula, but also to share our knowledge by helping to develop curricula in other countries. Such projects are aimed at, for example, developing European studies curricula or consulting partner universities within consortia on developing of the interdisciplinary studies programmes, for example, in North and South Caucasus (DESCnet), Moldova and Georgia (EU-PREACC), Ukraine (BBSR) or Tajikistan (TACES).