For 50 years, Ulm University has been educating future specialised professionals and executives at the highest level in the sought-after MINT (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology) and medical subjects. To mark the occasion of this anniversary, the University is publishing its first “Mission Statement Teaching”, which sets out the demands and objectives in educating students. The mission statement, which incorporates decades of teaching experience at Ulm University, will continue to be expanded and adapted to reflect new developments.
“A university’s basic duties are in research and teaching. For more than 50 years, Ulm University has been hugely successful in both areas, though often more attention is drawn to research projects than to educating future top performers. The new Mission Statement Teaching is intended to shift the focus to the task of educating, and at the same time serve as a guide for lecturers in their daily work. After all, high-quality teaching is of central importance at Ulm University!” says Professor Olga Pollatos, vice president for teaching.
Mission statement developed by steering committee
A steering committee consisting of more than 20 members developed the mission statement over a period of about nine months. Participants included members of the Executive Committee, the deans of studies, members of the academic affairs committees and the Centre for Teaching Development, as well as students and institutions such as the Central Student Advisory Services and the International Office. Towards the end of the summer semester, the Ulm University Senate decided on the result.
The mission statement lays out the visions and quality standards for superb, modern education at Ulm University under five headings: “Our Understanding of University Teaching”, “Educational Standards”, “Individual Profile Development”, “Lifelong Learning” and “Internationalisation”. This is to ensure that students receive a “highly modern academic education with clear reference to applications in businesses, research institutions and health care facilities”.
Another important point is internationalisation, which is encouraged. Today, 100 nationalities are already represented among the university researchers, lecturers and staff, providing students an environment that prepares them for the international scientific community and globalised job market. According to the mission statement, graduates from Ulm should also stand out with their “curiosity, interest in lateral thinking and independence”, and develop the ability to acquire knowledge independently throughout their entire life.
Concrete measures derived from mission statement
Now, the Mission Statement Teaching is to be publicised in workshops, public lectures and other formats at the University. The steering committee intends to produce a list of measures to be taken, derived from the five points mentioned above, and to make successful teaching projects more visible. In late September, the first “Intensive Week of Introductory Teaching” was offered. During these seminars, new lecturers, in particular, receive a compact overview of didactic methods and e-learning over a period of five days and are able to implement what they have learned straight away in the winter semester. Furthermore, a public lecture series on the topic of teaching is planned to be held in the Stadthaus Building. The series will kick off on 10 December with a panel discussion addressing research-oriented teaching and learning (“Humboldt forever?”).
Just in time for the beginning of the semester, a banner announcing the “Mission Statement Teaching – 50 Years of Competence in Teaching” was unveiled at the University’s south entrance. University President Professor Michael Weber stressed the significance of the new mission statement as he welcomed the new first-semester students: “50 years ago today, we began teaching the first students at Ulm University – so what we are celebrating is 50 years of teaching! Over the past 50 years, we have developed extensive teaching skills, the principles of which are now summarised for our future in the Mission Statement Teaching”.
Text & Mediacontact: Annika Bingmann