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Problem-based learning and the relevance of teaching and learning European Studies in times of crises

Abstract

The succession of economic and financial crises, the migration crisis, and, of course, Brexit have raised many questions about the future of the European Union. Such crises present challenges for teaching and learning European Studies. This article discusses the question how to maintain a relevant study programme while taking into account ever-changing societal developments. Based on a survey conducted among students of a Bachelor in European Studies, and a subsequent focus group discussion, we look at programme relevance and programme capacity to deal with societal change in the context of a problem-based learning environment. Our study reveals that problem-based learning, when applied consistently and correctly, is a good educational approach to ensure that a study programme is relevant and capable of capturing societal change. At the same time, students seem to prefer a more guided version of problem-based learning, which presents challenges concerning its possible contribution to teaching and learning in times of crises. While we discuss the situation in one specific BA programme, we will do so in light of general challenges in the fields of European Studies, International Relations, and Politics.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the participants in the 2018 UACES annual conference (Bath), the 2019 EUSA conference (Denver) and the 2019 International Teaching and Learning Conference (Brighton) for valuable comments on earlier versions of this article. We would also like to thank Sjoerd Stoffels for his technical support setting up the survey and Arjan Schakel for his methodological advice regarding survey design.

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The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Correspondence to Patrick Bijsmans.

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Bijsmans, P., Versluis, E. Problem-based learning and the relevance of teaching and learning European Studies in times of crises. Eur Polit Sci 19, 668–686 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-020-00263-0

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Keywords

  • European Studies
  • Problem-based learning
  • Relevance
  • Societal change
  • Teaching and learning