10 July 2019 • Arie Verhoef
‘Zukunft Deutschland’ has also been noticed outside of THUAS
It could be a line from the upcoming farewell speech by German chancellor Angela Merkel: ‘Zukunft Deutschland’. In fact it’s the name of a very successful project in European Studies. A project that since 2006 has been very supportive of the WIN themes of THUAS (which hadn’t even been formulated when the project started) and has won the 2018 European Language Label for the best internationalisation project in 2018.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences has a lot to offer. ‘Zukunft Deutschland’, a project initiated by Leo Tunderman in 2006, is a concrete example of how we incorporate the WIN themes in our education. He has been the project leader since then.
“Many students seem to know very little about our neighbour Germany. They often get stuck in clichés, with bratwurst leading the list. In 2006 we noticed that a growing number of European Studies were substituting German for French or Spanish. Even though the Netherlands and Germany have very strong economic ties.”
“Germany offers our students many opportunities. It would be unfortunate if that went unnoticed. To turn the tide, we created ‘Zukunft Deutschland’.
More positive image
“This project consists of four consecutive annual programs that are aimed at more ambitious students who want to go that extra mile. The type of student who doesn’t shy away from taking on a challenging extra program during their studies. With this innovative, engaging program we let students know how important knowledge of German and Germany is in their professional development.”
“Right at the start of the program we build a bridge to real life. We invite guests to share their experience and perspective on what German and what Germany offers them. These guests are active in education, science, journalism, culture, the corporate sector and politics.”
Minister of State for Europe
Leo mentions meetings with former NOS correspondent in Germany Jeroen Wollaars and his successor Judith van de Hulsbeek. With Paul Spies, the director of the Berlin city museum and curator of the prestigious Humboldtforum in Berlin.
“One of our highlights was in April 2018. That’s when we had a visit from the Minister of State, Michael Roth. He spent an hour and a half discussing Europe with our students, in German. The students who participate in the project are exposed to a broad range of knowledge and experiences. We see that the image that students have of Germany often becomes much more positive.”
“In this project we collaborate with a large number of organisations. With the Dutch-German Chamber of Commerce and the Germany Institute. But also with Fachhochschule Bielefeld and the Fachhochschule Nürnberg. We also partner with German universities of applied sciences, for example by attending guest lectures and creating exchanges.
We conduct the project as much in German as possible. For most students this results in an almost automatic improvement of their German language skills. Some students even decide to write their thesis in German. This usually includes a German theme. Several of our alumni have found a job in Germany.”
European Language label
Global citizenship, internationalisation and networking university of applied sciences within one project. And that’s what The Hague University of Applied Sciences stands for. The WIN themes had already been incorporated into the project concept in 2006, even before the university of applied sciences formulated these as an essential concept for THUAS.
Leo is pleased that the project has been noticed outside of their own university of applied sciences. Last year it earned the European Language Label 2018, a European prize to promote innovative language projects. The prize rewards new techniques in foreign language education, knowledge sharing and best practices. Leo: “We are very delighted with this acknowledgement.”
A good example
‘Man muss mit dem guten Beispiel vorangehen,” as they say in Germany. We would say: “practise what you preach”. In recent years Leo’s colleagues within European Studies have set up something similar to ‘Zukunft Deutschland’ for Spanish and French. In their own way they illustrate how The Hague University of Applied Sciences makes global citizenship happen.
Our students riding their bike towards the Brandenburger Tor
Photos: Caitlin de Munck