THREE KEYWORDS TO BOSTON

Boston Tastes Delicious 
 
We bought cupcakes (chocolate and coffee, cookies & cream) at Newbury Street. The pastries did not only look stunning but also tasted delicious. We hope that we are given the opportunity to eat more of them...
 
 
 
Boston Sounds Special
 
We saw a special musical instrument at Harvard Square Station. Not only cars are larger than in Switzerland but also tubas. We hope that we are given the opportunity to see more of them...
 


 
Boston Thinks Green
 
We threw our trash into a trash can that is powered by solar energy. A great idea to compact remains of all kinds. We hope that we will be inspired on our journey many more times...
 


THREE KEYWORDS TO BOSTON

Boston Tastes Delicious 
 
We bought cupcakes (chocolate and coffee, cookies & cream) at Newbury Street. The pastries did not only look stunning but also tasted delicious. We hope that we are given the opportunity to eat more of them...
 
 
 
Boston Sounds Special
 
We saw a special musical instrument at Harvard Square Station. Not only cars are larger than in Switzerland but also tubas. We hope that we are given the opportunity to see more of them...
 


 
Boston Thinks Green
 
We threw our trash into a trash can that is powered by solar energy. A great idea to compact remains of all kinds. We hope that we will be inspired on our journey many more times...
 


SOCIETY – HOW SHOULD THE WEB PAGE OF A UNIVERSITY LOOK LIKE?


This year's GPP topic - universities and society: meeting expectations - cannot be discussed without clarifying some terms in advance. Thereby, a particular focus should be given to the word 'society'. For the purpose of this blog post, the term 'society' is equivalent to a country's population. Every society in the aforementioned sense consists of several subcategories. One of these subcategories contains all people who pay taxes.

Both in Switzerland and in the U.S., only few taxpayers have a university degree. Hence, merely a small group is familiar with the 'operating mode' of the higher education sector. The majority of taxpayers knows that a university employs people who teach and do research. Yet, the exact meaning of these activities is beyond their knowledge.

All universities have the responsibility to inform the interested public about the use of taxpayers money.  On the one hand, this can be done through public events. On the other hand, social media (facebook, twitter, blogs etc.) play an increasingly important role. At present, the public can be reached most easily via a conventional web page. However, web pages only have an effect if their design is appealing.

After a quick research I realized that the web presence of many U.S. universities is very convincing. In particular, one learns about outstanding performances of professors and students quickly. In this area, Swiss universities have some backlog demand.




SOCIETY – HOW SHOULD THE WEB PAGE OF A UNIVERSITY LOOK LIKE?


This year's GPP topic - universities and society: meeting expectations - cannot be discussed without clarifying some terms in advance. Thereby, a particular focus should be given to the word 'society'. For the purpose of this blog post, the term 'society' is equivalent to a country's population. Every society in the aforementioned sense consists of several subcategories. One of these subcategories contains all people who pay taxes.

Both in Switzerland and in the U.S., only few taxpayers have a university degree. Hence, merely a small group is familiar with the 'operating mode' of the higher education sector. The majority of taxpayers knows that a university employs people who teach and do research. Yet, the exact meaning of these activities is beyond their knowledge.

All universities have the responsibility to inform the interested public about the use of taxpayers money.  On the one hand, this can be done through public events. On the other hand, social media (facebook, twitter, blogs etc.) play an increasingly important role. At present, the public can be reached most easily via a conventional web page. However, web pages only have an effect if their design is appealing.

After a quick research I realized that the web presence of many U.S. universities is very convincing. In particular, one learns about outstanding performances of professors and students quickly. In this area, Swiss universities have some backlog demand.




ABOUT SENSE AND NONSENSE OF UNIVERSITY RANKINGS


University rankings are very popular and highly controversial at the same time. Issued by various institutions worldwide, rankings are not only of prime importance for prospective students, governments and the private sector but also for universities themeselves. This is shown by the fact that educational institutions increasingly aim for a high standing in rankings, which is also stated in a multitude of institutional mission statements.

Yet, all that glitters is not gold. Critics of university rankings particularly call attention to the subsequent two points: (1) By means of which criteria should the performance of universities be evaluated? (2) How should universities, whose main research is in totally different areas, be compared? In 2010, the League of European Research Universities published a paper with the title "University Rankings: Diversity, Excellence and the European Initiative", which can be accessed at www.leru.org/index.php/public/publications/year/2010/. The author of the paper, Professor Geoffrey Boulton (Edinburgh University), writes on two programs funded by the European Commission to tackle the problems mentioned above.

While the "U-Map project" tries to describe universities on the basis of six dimensions (teaching and learning profile; student profile; research activity; knowledge exchange; international orientation; regional engagement), the "U-Multirank project" aims at creating global rankings for the range of these dimensions.

I am of the opinion that the European Commission's efforts are justified. Sometimes, the hype about university rankings reminds me at the evaluation of corporation's and state's credit worthiness by rating agencies. The past has shown that such evaluations are not always the real deal. 

In Switzerland, rankings still do not play a major role in public debate. Precisely for this reason, the discussion in the United States on this issue is of great interest to me. What role do rankings play when chosing a university? What proposals are discussed to improve the significance of rankings? Or do these problems even not raise any discussions in the U.S.? 


ABOUT SENSE AND NONSENSE OF UNIVERSITY RANKINGS


University rankings are very popular and highly controversial at the same time. Issued by various institutions worldwide, rankings are not only of prime importance for prospective students, governments and the private sector but also for universities themeselves. This is shown by the fact that educational institutions increasingly aim for a high standing in rankings, which is also stated in a multitude of institutional mission statements.

Yet, all that glitters is not gold. Critics of university rankings particularly call attention to the subsequent two points: (1) By means of which criteria should the performance of universities be evaluated? (2) How should universities, whose main research is in totally different areas, be compared? In 2010, the League of European Research Universities published a paper with the title "University Rankings: Diversity, Excellence and the European Initiative", which can be accessed at www.leru.org/index.php/public/publications/year/2010/. The author of the paper, Professor Geoffrey Boulton (Edinburgh University), writes on two programs funded by the European Commission to tackle the problems mentioned above.

While the "U-Map project" tries to describe universities on the basis of six dimensions (teaching and learning profile; student profile; research activity; knowledge exchange; international orientation; regional engagement), the "U-Multirank project" aims at creating global rankings for the range of these dimensions.

I am of the opinion that the European Commission's efforts are justified. Sometimes, the hype about university rankings reminds me at the evaluation of corporation's and state's credit worthiness by rating agencies. The past has shown that such evaluations are not always the real deal. 

In Switzerland, rankings still do not play a major role in public debate. Precisely for this reason, the discussion in the United States on this issue is of great interest to me. What role do rankings play when chosing a university? What proposals are discussed to improve the significance of rankings? Or do these problems even not raise any discussions in the U.S.? 


GERMAN ACADEMICS AT SWISS UNIVERSITIES


On the 19th of March 2013, the Global Perspectives Programme 2013 started its annual cycle with a seminar on the US and Swiss higher education sectors. Inspiring lectures from Professor Karen dePauw and Professor Shelli Fowler, both from Virgina Tech, gave cause for many fruitful discussions among the participants of the Input Seminar.

One of the debates revolved around the issue of German academics at Swiss Universities. A topic that has the potential to heat up tempers. In my view, the discussion that day went in a slightly wrong direction. I am a strong advocat of promoting young Swiss academics and Switzerland surely has to make up leeway to other countries. At the same time, universities are places where the best ideas should prevail. 

Lets face up to the facts: Germany has about ten times as many inhabitants as Switzerland. Accordingly, our northern neighbors "produce" large numbers of highly skilled young academics, which are excited about the labor conditions in Switzerland. This fact is an opportunity, not a threat, for the Swiss higher education sector. German academics increase competition and carry their colleagues to  top-performances. Not only students but all of society will benefit.

When it comes to the appointment of a new professor, the best candidate must be considered. One can argue about the reasonable selection criteria. Yet, nationality should not be part of it. In this respect, the situation is comparable to an international corporation. 

I am of the opinion that there is no need for concern, as long as universities assure a transparent appointment process to prevent the success of insider relationships. Yet, I am sure that there are many people with different views. On the one hand, I am curious about the reasoning of these people. On the other hand, I would like to know if the US higher education sector has to deal with similar conflicts.

Let me hear about your opinions!





GERMAN ACADEMICS AT SWISS UNIVERSITIES


On the 19th of March 2013, the Global Perspectives Programme 2013 started its annual cycle with a seminar on the US and Swiss higher education sectors. Inspiring lectures from Professor Karen dePauw and Professor Shelli Fowler, both from Virgina Tech, gave cause for many fruitful discussions among the participants of the Input Seminar.

One of the debates revolved around the issue of German academics at Swiss Universities. A topic that has the potential to heat up tempers. In my view, the discussion that day went in a slightly wrong direction. I am a strong advocat of promoting young Swiss academics and Switzerland surely has to make up leeway to other countries. At the same time, universities are places where the best ideas should prevail. 

Lets face up to the facts: Germany has about ten times as many inhabitants as Switzerland. Accordingly, our northern neighbors "produce" large numbers of highly skilled young academics, which are excited about the labor conditions in Switzerland. This fact is an opportunity, not a threat, for the Swiss higher education sector. German academics increase competition and carry their colleagues to  top-performances. Not only students but all of society will benefit.

When it comes to the appointment of a new professor, the best candidate must be considered. One can argue about the reasonable selection criteria. Yet, nationality should not be part of it. In this respect, the situation is comparable to an international corporation. 

I am of the opinion that there is no need for concern, as long as universities assure a transparent appointment process to prevent the success of insider relationships. Yet, I am sure that there are many people with different views. On the one hand, I am curious about the reasoning of these people. On the other hand, I would like to know if the US higher education sector has to deal with similar conflicts.

Let me hear about your opinions!





SOMETHING ABOUT MYSELF



Hi everybody!

Let's begin this blog adventure with some personal facts:

My name is Fabian and I am 28 years old. After obtaining a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Basel, School of Law, I spent one year at Columbia University in New York City. The stay at the Law School not only served as a preparation for my PhD project ("The Planning of Wind Turbines with Special Consideration of Environmental Law Issues") but also gave me the opportunity to get to know many interesting people and some States on the East Coast of the United States (on the picture, you can see me sitting on a bench on Princeton Campus in New Jersey). Meanwhile, I'm back at the University of Basel, School of Law. Here, I work as a reasearch and teaching assistant at a chair for public law. Alongside, I finish my dissertation.

When I am not at the office, I dedicate my time to soccer - not only passive in front of the television but also active on the pitch. I have been a sports fan for a long time and while studying, I earned some extra money as a cycle messenger. Thus, it goes without saying that I'm interested in all matters concerning sports at Virginia Tech (for instance, I already know that "Lane Stadium" must be impressive).

For now, this information about me should be sufficient. I am happy to be part of the Global Perspectives Programme 2013 and curious about interesting details of the American higher education sector.

See you soon - first in context of this blog and then in person, either in Switzerland or in the US!

SOMETHING ABOUT MYSELF



Hi everybody!

Let's begin this blog adventure with some personal facts:

My name is Fabian and I am 28 years old. After obtaining a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Basel, School of Law, I spent one year at Columbia University in New York City. The stay at the Law School not only served as a preparation for my PhD project ("The Planning of Wind Turbines with Special Consideration of Environmental Law Issues") but also gave me the opportunity to get to know many interesting people and some States on the East Coast of the United States (on the picture, you can see me sitting on a bench on Princeton Campus in New Jersey). Meanwhile, I'm back at the University of Basel, School of Law. Here, I work as a reasearch and teaching assistant at a chair for public law. Alongside, I finish my dissertation.

When I am not at the office, I dedicate my time to soccer - not only passive in front of the television but also active on the pitch. I have been a sports fan for a long time and while studying, I earned some extra money as a cycle messenger. Thus, it goes without saying that I'm interested in all matters concerning sports at Virginia Tech (for instance, I already know that "Lane Stadium" must be impressive).

For now, this information about me should be sufficient. I am happy to be part of the Global Perspectives Programme 2013 and curious about interesting details of the American higher education sector.

See you soon - first in context of this blog and then in person, either in Switzerland or in the US!