Villa La Fonte, EUI

EUI Summer Teacher Training: CIVICA researchers share insights and exchange practices


PhDs and postdocs met peers, shared skills, and received input in a four-day teacher training hosted by the EUI from 27 to 30 June.

Teaching skills are considered a core skill by many higher education institutions when hiring early career academics and are therefore an asset for pursuing an academic career. To this end, and in line with its distinct European and intercultural identity, the EUI offers various professional teacher training opportunities.

This year, the Summer School “Introduction to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” was held from 27 to 30 June at the EUI’s Villa La Fonte. Through dedicated practice sessions and teaching workshops, the four-day training aimed to provide participants with an insight into the theoretical knowledge underpinning today’s teaching in higher education as well as offered practical teaching skills and tools.

In addition, the training provided participants with the unique opportunity to meet other early career scholars from across Europe, including researchers of the CIVICA alliance, for which the training reserves dedicated spots. This year, two CIVICA researchers, Federica Paolucci from Bocconi University and Mihai Dănilă from National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA), participated in the course.

The experience for CIVICA researchers, in their own words

On occasion of the training taking place at the EUI, we had the opportunity to sit down with Federica and Mihai to listen to their experience in this year’s course.

A PhD researcher in Environmentalism and Sustainable and Development Studies, Mihai shares that the teacher training was a valuable experience for his future career and teaching path.

Federica, who is pursuing a PhD in Public Law and Technology, also mentions that the training will “surely be helpful” for the courses that she will continue teaching at Bocconi, as part of her PhD requirements.

The training was a valuable experience in enriching teaching methods, recalls Federica, emphasizing that “the focus was very much more on outcomes rather than contents. You are asked, ‘What do you want the students to take away from the course?’ The perspective is reversed [..] you are put in the student’s position rather than from the teacher’s point of view.”

In this way, the course was able to challenge new approaches to teaching by “showing how to integrate new teaching methods in traditional applications,” she adds.

Mihai shares a similar view when reflecting on his takeaways from the course, recounting that the main insight he gathered is that “you should take care of the outcome of the class, [..] what students are learning” he said. One way to do that, he explained, “is to ask yourself: what is the impact of this activity on their knowledge and their skills?”

Both Federica and Mihai recall the additional benefits of being part of the CIVICA network and how the latter made such an experience possible. CIVICA and its partner institutions are indeed extremely effective in communicating and promoting their activities across the larger CIVICA network.

“CIVICA provides the opportunity to students from different universities in Europe to join a team, to work together and share our experiences, our knowledge, and to step out of our own culture,” notices Mihai, “it is a great opportunity to meet people from all around Europe and understand how teaching works in other countries.”

Thinking ahead: Training teachers of tomorrow

On a practical note, Federica appreciates the dedicated handouts and tips provided during the four days of sessions, which will support her in managing different situations in the future, including meeting diverse needs of various students. She also feels grateful for the useful skillsets she has received and mentions she will “take a lot from this training to apply in future cases in relation also to teaching methods. Specifically, interacting ones.”

Mihai, who had his first teaching experience this year, feels that the course has helped him to realise how he can do better moving forward. As a PhD researcher who is also an environmental activist, his goal is to integrate what he learned from this enriching experience to become a better communicator both inside and outside the world of academia. 

Moreover, Mihai shared becoming even more aware of the importance of inclusive teaching practices. “Education is for everyone,” he stressed, which sometimes means to actively “provide an advantage to the one who is disadvantaged” to make up for personal, socio-economic and structural inequalities.

Written by Soraya Binetti and Luisa Della Pietra (EUI Editorial's team)

Photo credits: EUI Web Unit