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Learning and Growing Beyond Borders: Launching FU-BEST Online Fall Semester – New Intercultural Awareness Training Planned for European Studies Program at Freie Universität Berlin

Online courses for international students with academic classes in English, German language courses, and intercultural awareness training / Registration open until July 26, 2021

№ 055/2021 from Mar 30, 2021

In the fall semester of 2021, Freie Universität Berlin’s European Studies Program (FU-BEST) will be offering international students a wide variety of courses again. In addition to the regular curriculum, students will be able to choose from 18 online courses during the 14-week program. Subject areas include art history, history, political science, business and economics, media studies, cultural studies, and German. The online courses will now be complemented by an intensive module intended to enrich each student’s personal academic journey with reflective insights (“PIA” – Portfolio Intercultural Awareness). As usual, students enrolled in the program can earn credit points for their coursework according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Those credits can then be transferred to their home institutions. The online semester will take place from August 27 to December 3, 2021; it follows the North American academic calendar. The registration deadline is July 26, 2021.

For the 2021 fall semester, Freie Universität’s intensive semester program FU-BEST will be offering a broad spectrum of online courses for international students in a variety of disciplines. The courses offer an interdisciplinary perspective on core topics in European studies, while helping students to improve their knowledge of academic German from beginner to advanced levels. All courses are interactive and designed around issues that are directly relevant to European studies in Germany today, including a special focus on the city of Berlin with its immense cultural and historical significance. As it will be impossible for most students to visit Berlin in person this fall, it is hoped that the online courses will give them at least an initial impression of this fascinating city. The digital course schedule is also designed to be accessible for students in a variety of time zones, with courses taking place at different times throughout the day. Participants can sign up for one or multiple courses in a combination of their choice. For all FU-BEST online academic courses, Freie Universität Berlin awards ECTS credits.

FU-BEST started offering online courses for the first time this spring semester. One of FU-BEST’s two academic directors, Dr. Dirk Verheyen, says, “Students tell us that our online courses offer them much-needed flexibility along with a very individual learning experience. They appreciate being able to choose each course according to their current situation and learning requirements. This approach is beneficial for all students who cannot take part in student mobility programs due to the coronavirus pandemic and how it has impacted travel and academic exchange both immediately and in the long run.”

The upcoming fall semester aims to take the online concept one step further. It will also offer a new, self-guided reflective module to every student as a way of enhancing the study experience, called PIA (“Portfolio Intercultural Awareness”). Students will reflect upon their time at FU-BEST in the context of exercises designed to heighten their intercultural awareness, facilitating an open-minded approach to human interaction and communication both now and in the future. Students will also be encouraged to share their questions, feelings, and experiences in a safe space, giving them an opportunity to benefit from meaningful interactions that will help them grow as people during and beyond the program.

FU-BEST’s other academic director, Dr. Kristina Rödder, explains, “Our aim is to offer students the best possible opportunities in terms of both their academic development and personal learning experience. With this in mind, we are introducing a new module, PIA, in which students will participate in exercises to develop their intercultural awareness. This intercultural learning journey aims to help students develop a greater understanding of themselves and each other, while also facilitating networking opportunities. PIA thus perfectly complements our international, innovative online course schedule and meets the needs of our highly motivated students.” Rödder adds that Freie Universität’s European Studies Program is part of a vibrant academic community where it has been met with enormous interest from universities across the world thanks to its innovative approach and ability to continually adapt. This interest has also led to the formation of numerous partnerships.

FU-BEST is an academic semester program of Freie Universität Berlin. It takes place in the fall and the spring semesters each year, both online and in person. The program includes various courses, mainly in the social sciences and the humanities, which are primarily taught in English. In addition, international students take classes in “German as a foreign language.” As of this fall semester, the program will include a self-guided reflection module on intercultural awareness and networking to enhance the online study experience. FU-BEST students can receive credit points in their home countries for successfully completed courses.

The program follows the North American academic calendar, making it unique in Europe. The academic quality of FU-BEST was recognized again last year by the Forum on Education Abroad, through its Quality Improvement Program (QUIP). FU-BEST’s digital lecture series also received recognition from the German government’s initiative “Germany, Land of Ideas: Beyond Crisis,” which was launched by the German federal government and German industry. FU-BEST has consistently grown since 2005, with roughly 340 students participating annually. About 3,500 international students have enjoyed the benefits of this program since it was first founded.

Online Courses, FU-BEST 2021 Fall Semester


Informational Webinars

Informational webinars on April 14 at 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CET

Links to More Information:

April 15, 2021: Digital Revolution – Opportunities, Challenges, Implications

June 17, 2021: Young Globalization – Role and Impact of Young Leaders in a Post-National World

Further Information


Friederike Zähringer, Coordinator Marketing & Communications, Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program, FU-BEST: +49 30 838- 66560, Email: friederike.zaehringer@fu-berlin.de

News from Apr 15, 2021

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