After Central European University’s master’s and doctoral students depart for the summer months, a new crop of visiting students keeps CEU’s Budapest campus alive with discussion. Now in its 24th year, Summer University (SUN) offers one- and two-week intensive courses for practitioners, policymakers and academics.
“These courses provide new knowledge in a highly condensed timeline compared to traditional university semesters,” said Eva Gedeon, executive director of SUN. “Summer University offers a chance to explore new ideas, find inspiration in a diversity of perspectives and network with professionals across fields.”
Summer University offers 17 courses this year, running the gamut of CEU faculty expertise. Courses include The Morality of Discrimination, Mediation Theory and Skills and Constitution-Building in Africa. Each course includes faculty members and guest lecturers from CEU and from universities and organizations across the globe. Students and educators alike benefit from the knowledge and experience that such a diverse faculty of scholars and practitioners brings.
“The program originally started in 1996 as an outreach effort targeting Central Europeans and providing access to libraries and current knowledge. The Summer University mission gradually changed along with changes at CEU. Our reach became global, not just regional, and we now enroll close to 400 students from 85 different countries,” said Gedeon.
Take a deeper look at a few of SUN’s courses:
Measuring and Building Audience Trust
CEU’s Center for Media, Data and Society organized the Measuring and Building Audience Trust course to provide participants with in-depth understanding of the most effective methods of audience engagement in journalism.
Political Psychology: Ideology and Partisanship
Now in its third year, Political Psychology: Ideology and Partisanship introduces participants to the main methods used in the quickly developing field of political psychology. The field draws from several different disciplines to study how humans, perceive and react to the world, especially in interactions with political systems.
“Interdisciplinary research is more and more important in all of the social sciences, and there is no better example of that than pollical psychology, which is at the intersection of pollical science, international relations and psychology,” said course director Levente Littvay, professor in the Department of Political Science.
The course brings together experts from across the world. For Littvay, diversifying regional perspectives is key, and so the course tries to attract students from the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, post-Soviet states and other region underrepresented in political psychology.
“This course is a helpful, professional experience. Many of our students are looking to further their study of political psychology and are incredibly ambitious and hungry for knowledge. They also contribute a great deal to the course with their own local knowledge,” said Littvay.
The course itself features seminars on methods and substantive topics, round table discussions on publishing and grant writing, practical research design and implementation workshops and student presentations.
Global Entrepreneurship and Startup Camp
CEU’s InnovationsLab (iLab) startup incubator hosted its first bootcamp for entrepreneurs, the Global Entrepreneurship and Startup Camp, during Summer University. More than 20 participants from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas joined a team of CEU faculty, iLab mentors and current and former iLab team members for two weeks of interactive sessions.
Lectures by CEU faculty centered around formulating a business idea and business plan, the entrepreneurial cycle, handling financials, branding and marketing. The participants had several opportunities to meet entrepreneurs working at the InnovationsLab, allowing time to discuss developing business models and building a team.
To practice the skills they learned throughout the bootcamp, participants were split into five project teams to create and develop the initial stages of a product. Project ideas centered around education, law, human resources, social responsibility and bartending. Teams prepared business plans, business model canvases, marketing strategies and financial plans, all of which informed their final presentations—investor pitches delivered to a jury that voted for the idea they were most likely to invest in.
Read the full blog post about the iLab bootcamp written by Chigozie Nelson here.
Learning Can Be Fun
For the first time ever, Summer University hosted a course for current high school students interested in learning about and applying to universities. The Learning Can Be Fun course touched on some fundamentals about higher education, including different international education systems, financial aid, rankings and accessibility.
Students even delved into essential questions about the nature of higher education—like whether it should be a public or private good and whether universityies stand for the pursuit of truth or the pursuit of social justice.
“We wanted to provide knowledge and inspire debates about the elements of higher education that interest high school students,” said course co-director Monica Jitareanu, CEU’s global partnerships officer. “These are absolutely brilliant young people. Many of the students already knew quite a bit about higher education and have great interest in studying in different schools and countries.”
Beyond preparing students for evaluating and comparing universities that they may want to attend, the course also strengthened critical thinking skills that will prove essential for students once they begin undergraduate education.
“We hope that they take away some useful knowledge about certain aspects of higher education, especially financing, accessibility, rankings, etc., as well as some useful critical thinking tools. We focused on skills that will be useful to them throughout university: identifying and extracting arguments and analyzing and critically discussing texts. That is one essential exercise that we repeatedly did every day here,” said Jitareanu.