Volker Balli (Ph.D.) is the Academic Director of the Studium Individuale at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. He is in charge of the conceptual development and implementation of this programme, which offers contemporary liberal education. He has been a part of the founding team of the Liberal Arts and Science Programme at University College Freiburg, developing the social science major ‘Governance’. In these functions, he has gained extensive expertise in: programme and course design and implementation; advising; internationalisation of programmes of study. His particular interest lies in the nexus between changes in HE and broader societal developments, specifically in the European context. He has been a student of European Studies (B.A.) at King’s College in London, LSE and Sciences Po, and European Politics at the College of Europe in Bruges (M.A.). He received his Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute in Florence (2009) and has been a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Trento.
Towards a personal, flexible and engaged way of studying: the Studium Individuale as an example of making European HE more relevant and contemporary
Programmes of study in HE need to respond creatively to changing societal conditions. The Studium Individuale at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, does so by focusing on students’ interests and the development of an individual path: students can design a significant part of their curriculum, focusing on a question of contemporary concern, and not on a single discipline. Thereby, students i) are more motivated for and engaged in their studies; ii) learn to understand and address relevant problems; and iii) cultivate the essential skill of making informed, responsible decisions. This makes students better prepared not only for professional, but also for personal and civic life, in line with ET 2020. Such a mode of studying demands, in turn, certain conditions: i) the provision of smart support, e.g. through advising; ii) the cultivation of generic academic skills common to all students; and iii) the development of an overall institutional culture that values co-creation, is focused on the student, and is open and responsive to the outside world. This individual, flexible, engaged and intensive way of studying does not need to be limited to specific niche programmes, but can serve as orientation for reforms in European HE on a much wider scale.