By Nataliya Machalina & Gabriel Beauvallet-Bauchet, 8th generation students, August 2021
Prof. Dr. Arne Niemann, from the University of Mainz, has been teaching students of the Europa Master (EM) since its creation in 2013. In this interview, he shares with us his views on the programme as well as its students.
At what point did you join the Europa Master Programme? What was your motivation to do so?
I joined the making of the programme very early, in 2011, as it still wasn’t launched. In fact, on the Mainz side, it was the late Prof.Dr.Herbert Ditgen (who passed away in 2007) who initiated the idea of having such a programme atour university.His death slowed down the whole programme creation process.In 2011, as I was applying for the professorship in Mainz, I was already told that I would become the programme director of the German side of the EM, due to my previous experience of teaching International Relations and European Studies at the universities of Amsterdam and Dresden. I started to teach in the area of the European Studies in 2002, and after doing extensive research in this area, I wanted to make this as a strong pillar for International Politics at the JGU. So when accepting the offer the University proposed me, as I was glad to have the opportunity to make a link between International Relations and European Studies by starting the Europa Master, which was ultimately done in 2013.
You teach many students at the JGU, are the EM students different from the other ones? What is so special about them?
Of course, they are not totally different, but the EM students are a little different in a positive way in the following aspects. Firstly, they are a little more motivated than others. I don't know why, but it might be because of the program’s design, in order to arrive in Mainz, you have to make a few sacrifices and travel a lot. Secondly, I have noticed that students have a broader perspective on things which in my opinion is a merit of the multidisciplinary dimension of the programme. Thirdly, they tend to be more enthusiastic about Europe and the European Union.This is probably inherent in studying European studies; nobody who hates the European Union would do such a programme. Fourthly, in terms of social skills, I would say that you are more team players than the other students are. You are very supportive of each other, and in my impression, this might be because of the cohort to which all EM students belong.
In a global perspective, how would you evaluate the importance of the EM Programme?
As you are establishing a new programme in the vast world of MA Programmes available, you first have to find a sort of a niche. We found one such for the EM Programme by doing it tri-national and multi-disciplinary with Law and Political Science in the first place and byalso involving the cultural approach, mainly in Opole. As such, and considering the high demands regarding languages and mobility, it standsout from other Master Programmes.Also, the EM has become more diverse as we originally expected, because of the recruiting of students coming from third countries applying at Opole University, enriching also the interculturalaspect of the cohorts themselves. All these facets makes it attractive to employers to recruit our students, because they bring on the labour market their high mobility, interdisciplinarity, three national degrees and several languages together with a focus on European Studies.
What is your vision for the future of the EM Programme?
It would be fantastic if EM Programme became a “trademark”, and is recognized for his adding value. For reaching this objective, we would have to increase the number of students per cohort… Which can prove to be difficult to do, because not so many are willing to learn languages extensively in addition to the core of the subject we teach…as well as to be that mobile as EM students have to be.To have courses taught in English in Dijon would certainly boost applications, but we would also give up a certain feature of the program.Whatever, as time goes by and the number of alumni increases, EMA-DOM would gradually become of great importance for managing the Alumni Network and let it grow to further extents. A strong Alumni network can be a great asset for the programme and its reputation.
If you had chance to study Europa Master Programme in your time, would you do that? Why?
Yeah, I think I would but it is hard to say for sure because it is a kind of unrealistic scenario studying in a different time and context. Most probably, I would seriously consider this program or even make a choice for Europa Master. In fact, I studied European Studies at the University of Cambridge, which was very similar to the EM. We were also enthusiastic about the European Union, and we also had our cohort. However, there were no mobility aspects in our program. Since I was more mobile at the time, maybe this would have made the EM even more attractive for me. Also, the three degrees are certainly a big advantage of this program.If the program will continue its current development, of which I am optimistic, I will have another very attractive choice in my next incarnation… but that will probably take another 50 years!