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Cover "Blended Learning in (fr)agile contexts"
Seyfarth, Felix C
IEIW Master, Freie Universität Berlin
Publication year: 2019

(in press)

A shared initiative between stakeholders for internationalization of Higher Education and development in Germany was the impulse for creating the Master’s program „Intellectual Encounters of the Islamicate World“ (IEIW) at Freie Universität Berlin (FUB). Growing awareness of the crucial role that access to Higher Education and advanced  professional training play for economic development in the Middle East was the basis for a corresponding cooperation between the Federal Ministry for International Cooperation and Economic Development (BMZ) with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). An online Master’s program bringing Israeli and Palestinian students together in the study of shared religious history was expected to foster capacities for intercultural dialogue in future professionals and broaden access to advanced graduate degrees for marginalized groups.

This multi-stakeholder intervention between 2012 and 2019 had to balance a complex set of educational, developmental and political goals. While operating in the fairly inflexible legal and organizational framework of a German university and equipped with scarce resources, the project team succeeded in mastering expected and unexpected challenges. The shape they gave to the resulting project displays a number of unique characteristics, which could not have been foreseen or planned for at launch time. Innovative learning outcomes and instructional formats were developed for the academic program of study. Likewise, flexible administrative structures and suitable strategies for project management emerged.

Publishing this handbook five years after effective launch and steady implementation of the IEIW Master program attempts to capture learnings that may be taken away from this experiment. The eight sections of the study can be understood as disaggregated findings. Viewed together, after putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in their respective places, they reveal the impact that separate, overlapping processes have on the overall program design. Accompanying infographics provide a visualization of relationships and interfaces to aid integrating the individual pieces of the puzzle into project timelines, organizational structure, stakeholder expectations and academic workflows.