Changing Disciplines

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused seismic changes in professional practices across the world, and AUP’s faculty have not been spared such shifts. Not only did professors, like all staff at the University, have to adapt to working from home, but they also had to teach classes at a distance using new digital tools while educating students spread across multiple time zones.

The challenges have been great, but the response of our professors has been greater still. The University made the switch to remote learning in less than five days, and during that time faculty organized a variety of workshops geared toward transitioning as smoothly as possible. Sessions took on subjects as diverse as conducting lab experiments at a distance and how to host drama workshops when performers weren’t in the same room.

The move to online learning also presented opportunities to expand the educational toolkit at our faculty’s disposal. Additional training in online resources was provided by IT Services and the Teaching and Learning Center. Faculty shared best practices over email and groups on Microsoft Teams. Collaboration and innovation were clearly on display.

There was also a strong desire to engage academically with the present moment. Several faculty members were approached by the media to share their expertise. Yet more contributed to the Learning Laboratory video series on the AUP Digital Campus, through which they discussed the ways in which their academic disciplines were being affected by Covid-19. Below, you’ll find a pertinent contribution by Professor Maria Bach, who discussed how she used the pandemic as an opportunity to “flip the classroom,” a process that encourages students to introduce a topic in advance of class, through recorded lectures or other online material, before engaging in an in-class discussion at a deeper level.

Quick-thinking also became a vital tool in overcoming disappointments, as study trips and practicums were canceled one by one. When the Ecole de Guerre practicum – an annual workshop during which students role-play as international organizations during a global crisis – was canceled for this year, Professor Susan Perry mitigated students’ disappointment by organizing a book project, which could be conducted at a distance. The class collaborated on written content, such as blog posts and academic articles, from the perspective of international organizations responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, which were then brought together in a book. The essence of the class was maintained, and students got the added benefit of a physical publication that could be shared with potential future employers.

What all these approaches have in comment is the desire to put the student at the center of the learning experience. Global explorers have a thirst for knowledge and a drive to learn from other cultures and new situations. AUP’s faculty are experts in bringing out this kind of self-motivated study in students. If that sounds good to you, find out more about how to apply.