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Global migration on the ground : transdisciplinary programme pushes the limits of virtual mobility

7 February 2022
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From 13 to 17 September 2021, for 5 days, students participating in the CIVIS student week Global migration on the ground were challenged to reflect on the way global migration is discussed in academia, the media, and politics. The event was also the first time that CIVIS used its online learning environment to facilitate the delivery of a virtual activity.

Fostering cooperation within the CIVIS Alliance and with partners in civil society, the event aimed to make students aware that global issues do not have simple solutions — they demand cooperation between different academic specialisations and multiple stakeholders. Moreover, participating students were in contact with researchers and organisations from various European countries where global migration emerges from different causes, creates diverse effects and is dealt with in various ways.

This CIVIS activity was hosted by the University of Tübingen and co-organised with Sapienza Università di Roma and Aix-Marseille Université. It involved more than 21 lecturers from the 4 member universities, 12 civil society organisations and representatives of 7 study and research programmes, among which the UNESCO Chair in Population, Migrations and Development. Students also had to undertake various group activities in university mixed teams during and after the week. 

Over five days, participants explored topics such as:

  • Migration towards and within Europe and the question of European citizenship
  • Demographic aspects of international migration, including the use of big data
  • International labor mobility
  • Scientific migration and brain circulation
  • The relationship between models of migration management and the right-wing populist mobilization against migration
  • The problem of categorization in migration discourses
  • The perspective of human rights on migration
  • Specific characteristics of migration in the Mediterranean areas
  • The relationship between migration and development questions

Learn more about the programme and speakers on the course page.

Taking virtual mobility to the next level

The mix of lectures, NGO presentations and student projects was not the only innovative aspect of the student week Global Migration on the Ground. This was also the first time that a CIVIS activity took place using a CIVIS online learning environment. Participants were guided through the various stages of the programme within a Moodle platform, while livestreamed lectures and digital spaces for collaboration offered a truly interactive and social learning experience.  

The results were impressive, and really confirmed the potential of virtual mobility as a complement to face-to-face teaching in higher education. Online teaching and learning will never replace on-site activities, but programmes like this show that careful planning and the right tools can make virtual mobility a viable alternative to physical mobility when travel is not possible. The potential benefits for social inclusion and climate protection mean CIVIS is committed to exploring this avenue further. Indeed, since this course took place in September 2021 many other CIVIS activities have used various aspects of this online learning environment to deliver remote teaching, and the tools are being constantly refined for future use.