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Nicola Bünsch: "More needs to be done across the board"

Nicola Bünsch: "More needs to be done across the board"
Photo: © David Außerhofer/Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre

How are job profiles in the cultural and creative industries changing? What drives this change? These and other questions will be addressed in mid-March at a conference organized by the Kompetenzzentrum Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft des Bundes. Nicola Bünsch from the foundation Innovation in der Hochschullehre (StIL) is one of the participants who will be speaking on the topic. We asked her a few questions in advance. 

 

INTERVIEW  Boris Messing    

 

CCB Magazine: Hello Ms. Bünsch, you work for the foundation Innovation in der Hochschullehre, which was set up in 2020. First of all, what is this foundation all about?   

Nicola Bünsch: We want to use the foundation to strengthen the capacity for renewal in university teaching. In the past, for example, there was already the Qualitätspakt Lehre, under which universities could apply for funding for innovative projects.  But this was not designed to be permanent. With the StIL, the federal and state governments wanted to set up an organization that would promote innovation in teaching and learning in a more systematic, networked and long-term way. This is how the foundation, which is run by the non-profit Toepfer Stiftung gGmbH, came into being. It was clear from the outset that the aim was not only to provide funding for innovative teaching projects, but also to transfer knowledge and build networks.

CCB Magazine:You are one of the experts who will be speaking at the conference on changing job profiles on March 19. The focus is on the need for change in the higher and further education system in order to adapt to the changing professional world of cultural and creative professionals. What does this change essentially consist of?

Nicola Bünsch:We at the foundation agree that universities need to change in order to adapt faster and better to new social challenges and needs. Sustainability and the socio-ecological transformation play a central role in this, as does artificial intelligence. Such social developments must be reflected in university teaching so that graduates are well prepared for their future careers. In the meantime, for example, more and more AI topics are being put on the table in the projects we support. A lot is happening at universities right now.

Teaching innovation can sometimes mean administrative innovation. We must therefore also think of teaching development as organizational development

CCB Magazine:What innovations are there at universities in the field of sustainability and AI? Can you give a few examples?

Nicola Bünsch:What is considered an innovation in this context is, of course, very much dependent on the respective subject and the type of university. Let me pick out a few examples from the arts and culture-related subjects: a tool for the digital management of film production processes is being developed at the University of Television and Film Munich. At Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle, analog and digital artistic methods are being combined; 3D printing and VR glasses are in use there. And at the University of the Arts Bremen, virtual concert halls and matching concert formats are being developed. Videos of all these projects can be found on our YouTube channel. We have set up an interdisciplinary multiplier program on the topic of sustainability, the "Annual Program for University Teaching in the Context of Sustainability". Here, we network university members from various status groups and students who are committed to ensuring that sustainability issues are incorporated into university teaching - regardless of subject.

CCB Magazine:Where are the biggest needs of change in terms of innovation in teaching?

Nicola Bünsch:Overall, more needs to be done across the board. The question is, how do I get more flexibility into the system? How can I structurally create spaces for experimentation? And how can we, how can university management, create incentives for teaching staff to make use of such experimental spaces? Teaching innovation can sometimes mean administrative innovation. We must therefore also think of teaching development as organizational development. Academic freedom is rightly an extremely valuable asset. We must therefore look closely at where - beyond individual commitment - there is scope for teaching development. This in turn requires good cooperation between teaching staff, university administration and supporting bodies such as university didactics. For complex institutions such as universities, these are really large construction sites. As a foundation, we see a great diversity of ideas at universities and try to create good framework conditions for their implementation as far as we can with our resources.

CCB Magazine:How many projects does the foundation support each year? What sums are we talking about here?

Nicola Bünsch:We already have around 560 projects being funded. Together, we receive 150 million euros a year from the federal and state governments. Most of the money goes directly to the funded projects, but it also flows into networks, the development of infrastructure for knowledge transfer and various event formats and conference concepts. Together with partners, we also develop further training courses for project supporters so that what has been tried and tested and learned can be consolidated.

CCB Magazine:Who can apply for project funding?

Nicola Bünsch:Applications can be submitted partly via the university management and partly via individual lecturers. From the outset, it was very important to us to be open to all types of universities and subject areas, including art and music universities, as well as private universities, provided they are non-profit.

It is clear that universities must constantly change in view of the rapidly changing professional world and the new requirements that come with it. This means that students must be enabled to constantly question or transfer what they have learned, to be generally flexible and creative

CCB Magazine:What role do AI systems such as ChatGPT or Midjourney play in today's university context? 

Nicola Bünsch:You can see that scientific processes are massively affected by this. Exam formats are changing, research processes are changing, academic writing is changing. The use of ChatGPT also raises very basic questions, including what will actually count as coursework or examinations in the future. What's more, AI is already frequently used in research. For example, we have a project at the University of Freiburg in which linguists are using AI to analyze handwriting and texts. In purely methodological terms, this opens up completely new possibilities.

CCB Magazine:Many people are predicting that AI systems will disruptively change our entire professional world. In this context, can a higher education or further education system change fast enough to respond to constantly changing needs?

Nicola Bünsch:It is clear that universities must constantly change in view of the rapidly changing professional world and the new requirements that come with it. Teaching paves the way for the future. This means that students must be enabled to constantly question or transfer what they have learned, to be generally flexible and creative. In addition, learning is becoming more individual and does not stop after university.

CCB Magazine:What are the most important skills that young professionals in the cultural and creative industries need to be successful today?

Nicola Bünsch:Industry representatives can certainly answer that better than I can. What a university degree can give young professionals and what they certainly need are transfer and meta-skills. During your studies, you have to learn to understand things abstractly and apply what you have understood to new contexts. You need flexibility and resilience to deal with change and uncertainty. But you also need social skills and the ability to collaborate. A degree course is not just for professional aptitude, but also for personal development, training in thinking and the ability to help shape the world. But I am convinced that these meta-skills pay off in order to be successful in changing professional fields.

Category: Knowledge & Analysis

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