Greetings from Columbia

Hi there, at University of Duisburg-Essen (and in the rest of Europe):

Columbia University is great – in every sense: The so called “Mizzou” (University of Missouri) comprises about 35.000 students. And that is just a part of a whole system of several universities around Missouri (comparable with our UAMR). This so called “University of Missouri System“ comprises about 75.000 students and a staff of 17.000 people, as well as roundabout 6.000 professors teaching and doing research within about 25 different faculties. Furthermore, the University of Missouri System comprises a network with a strategic healthcare system, multiple research parks and incubators, agricultural research stations and a guest Network of small business and technology development centers, extension centers, telehealth network sites and so on.

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The best aspect about “Mizzou” however are the “Mizzou-Tigers”, which play in the highest division of collegiate American Football. I was able to see them play on their opening game of the new season.

Americans are (somehow) crazy: Obviously they cannot play soccer, and even worse: they cannot brew beer at all. American students receive in comparison to Germany quite a lot, but however, they also have to pay about 20.000 dollars tuition fees a year. Although they get a lot for it in return, it is quite a lot of money for a German observer.

The faculty of education at Mizzou consists of six departments, one of them is occupied with STEM and lead by our famous networker professor Johannes Strobel (see picture taken in the library of the department).

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Meanwhile, I had the time and the possibility to make some bibliographies and I found out, that in the whole USA there are roundabout 60 departments (e.g.: professors) who are focused upon STEM. In comparison to Germany, this is quite a lot. This is due to the fact that in every federal state of the US STEM is an integrated part of the curriculum, at least at the primary and secondary I level. Here, Germany can learn quite a lot from that. Although I have learned, that the overwhelming part of the American scientific literature is only to find within the university itself. That means, you need an account to get the Information you want. But if you have an account, most of the literature you have found is immediately online to receive – which is great. Here are the United States much more progressive than our German system, which is clearly stronger focused on printed scientific literature.

By doing some bibliography, I also found out, why it was that difficult to find some literature concerning VET and CVET in Germany: Whereas in international standards VET and CVET (Vocational Education and Training and Continuing vocational education and Training) is quite usual, since 2009 they have been referring to the term CTE (Career Training and Education). This however comprises within a completely new educational concept not only VET and CVET, but also academic pathways, which they try to include systematically within the vocational career pathways. This bridge between vocational and academic career pathways seems to be somehow comparable with those courses of study; we call “Duale Studiengänge” in Germany. This is very interesting, because the reasons for this educational reform were the same as in Germany: First permeability within the education system and second equal opportunities for all, especially for those, who belong in any way or for any reasons to the disadvantaged students. Seen from this point of view, the main problem of CTE/VET in the USA is caused by the same reason: The social prestige of CTE/VET is much lower than the social prestige of – for example – an academic education career. Thus, they try to strengthen the CTE sector to give the socially disadvantaged students a chance for (even higher) education.

To put it in a nutshell: It is possible to make very interesting research, to find new partners for doing research projects, but the basic problems within the education system and within the social stratification among the USA as a State are comparable to those in Europe and especially to those in Germany.

Something however, is not comparable, and that is the weather: We are having (at the beginning of September) nearly 35 degree celsius and a humidity of 80%; and that is the main reason, why I am finishing this blog now.

Happy to see You all again in Essen and to see you all next month in October during our next meeting.

Blog by Prof. Dr. Dieter Münk

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