Reunited at the IPW 2022

Hello from Prague to all my blog readers. After teaching my course on The Rise of Populism remotely in November 2020 and online in Nordhausen in July 2021 (see my previous blog post), it was amazing to finally be able to meet students and colleagues in person for the International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in Thuringia in May 2022. Although participation was considerably lower than before the start of the pandemic, there were still approximately 250 students, and we had 30 guest lecturers in attendance or online from 15 countries, mainly in Europe, with a total of 23 projects.

Six of those were online or hybrid, with a few of the remote lecturers Zoomed in for the closing ceremony on Friday morning, including Nagwa from Egypt. As Michal and Jarmila (my colleagues from Olomouc) were busy with other work, I was the only representative of the Czech Republic this year. As a newly naturalized Czech citizen, I was delighted to be able to take part in the International Project Week as a member of the EU once more.

Photo by Gonçalo Bandeira

Along with my colleague from Portugal, Gonçalo Bandeira, I was working with a small group of university students on the subject of The Rise of Populism. Besides discussing infamous populists such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Le Pen, we also looked at the enigma of Zelensky, a populist of a different ilk. For their final poster presentation, our students opted for an interactive quiz where they cited well-known populists and then students from other groups had to guess whose photo was behind the quote. They also presented Miloš Zeman, the populist president of the Czech Republic. The group did a great job and it was a pleasure to collaborate with them on this project.

As well as working hard all week, we also had the chance to participate in a wide range of social and cultural activities. This began with a Sunday excursion to the Alternative Bärenpark Worbis where the bears and other animals are able to enjoy life in a natural habitat, followed by the Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld at the former border between East and West Germany.

Alternative Bärenpark Worbis

The schedule also included a Monday afternoon tour of the university campus after classes with a visit to the August-Kramer-Institut to observe them carry out their work on renewable energy systems and then on to the sensory lab to test some new liqueurs produced by the local distillery in Nordhausen. Other trips on the programme were to a nearby goat farm, Sophienhof, and to Mittelbau Dora concentration camp, an important part of Nordhausen’s history.

Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld

Once more, I had a fabulous week of work and play in Nordhausen. It was wonderful to meet so many people in person again and also to have others join us online. It seems like hybrid events may be the way of the future. A big thank you to Jenny Ettrich, Thomas Hoffmann and Melissa Gürtler from the International Office at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, the President, Jörg Wagner, for the invitation, and, of course, to the brilliant IPW team for making all this possible and taking good care of us throughout the week.


Closing dinner at the Greek restaurant Zur Friedenseiche. Photo by Wojciech Gonet

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

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