Written by Barbora Volková
The Intensive Programme (IP) is an essential part of the Euroculture Master, which takes place right between the first and second year and in which every student has to participate if they want to receive the very much deserved Euroculture Joint Master Degree. As the name suggests, IP is organised by one of the eight European partner universities and takes place each year usually either in Krakow or Olomouc. It is made up of about 6 intensive days of a diverse programme, including presentations of IP papers, workshops, seminars, group work and social events.Read more: In Focus: IP || Introduction to the Euroculture Intensive Programme
There may be many questions emerging in your mind while thinking about the IP. Where does it take place? What is the IP paper? What does such an intensive week look like? To answer these questions, Euroculturer’s new “In Focus: IP” series provides information about this special week, shares the experiences of former Euroculture students and gives tips regarding the preparation of the IP paper to show you that there is nothing to worry about! In the first and second semesters, the IP is often referred to only in the context of the individual papers that students write, or as just another part of the MA course. After reading our articles, you will realise that the IP is about much more, and that both the preparation and the week itself were an interesting, enriching and unique experience for all Euroculture students that took part in it.
Essential IP: Experience the unique Euroculture atmosphere
The IP week usually takes place halfway through the Euroculture programme, at the end of the second semester and between the first and second year of the Master’s programme. There is a high chance it will not take place at your university, and that you will have to travel for a week to a different country (IPs most frequently take place in Krakow or Olomouc) so this is yet another opportunity for cultural exchange and discovering a different Euroculture city! It has been already confirmed that IP 2023 will take place in Olomouc.
The best thing about the IP is the unique chance to meet your whole cohort of Euroculture students from all 8 European Consortium universities, going beyond the two or three universities that you’ll attend. It is mandatory for everyone, as students receive 5 ECTS for their participation. Euroculture staff from around the Consortium also take part in the intensive week, which is a great opportunity for socialisation and networking during academic and extra activities, going also beyond the official IP programme.
Euroculture students are required to manage and pay for their travel to and from the IP, however, the accommodation is covered by the Consortium. In 2022, students stayed in a student hostel (dorm) right across from the Jagiellonian University building where the majority of the programme took place.
IP paper preparation
The social aspect of the IP week may be the most exciting part of the week, but the IP is about much more. It is a core part of the second semester of Euroculture and goes beyond the week in summer itself. At all universities, students have a course aimed at IP paper preparation. The paper (counting for about 4 500 – 6 000 words, excluding the bibliography) is the main outcome of this class and has to be presented during the IP week. This naturally leads to a significant improvement of writing and researching skills. Furthermore, the IP component in the programme aims also to improve other essential skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication or time management.
An IP paper is an academic research paper of the student’s choice that must be related to an annual IP theme and which is given to the students and differs every year. Here you can see examples of past IP themes. You may notice that they are kept quite broad to give the students the possibility to fit their individual research focus into the broad IP topic. There are several IP paper preparation deadlines during the second semester, but the journey leading to the IP paper differs per university and can be somewhere more or less individual. To give an example of such a process, the University of Groningen (which I as a student attended in my second semester) is organising introductory lectures and a workshop to help the students to find an ideal topic and the writing process is supervised by academic staff. Before the IP week, a rehearsal of presentations is organised for Groningen students in order to get feedback and manage possible changes before the departure.
Don´t forget that even with uploading the final paper, the work is not all done. Euroculture students have to present their papers with visual presentations during the IP in front of other students. This happens in multiple groups which are created based on papers focus, where students also have to prepare and complete a peer review of another student, as well as actively listen to other presentations. This should lead to a mutual discussion among the group. Do not underestimate those steps! For the students of the 2021-23 cohort, the paper counted for only 60% of the final grade, the presentation counted for 30% and the peer review for 10%. It is important to mention that the best papers could be published in an annual IP publication.
To give you a small overview of how the IP preparation was organised in 2022, these were the following IP paper deadlines:
- 20 April – abstract paper deadline (up to 300 words + 5 keywords)
- May – individual paper draft deadlines organised by each second-semester university
- 01 June – final IP paper deadline
- 25 June – peer review deadline
IP week 2022 – Krakow – “Dissonant Democracy“
In order to have a better idea about the content and structure of the IP, we will give you a short description of the latest IP week at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, which took place between 26 June – 01 July 2022 on the theme of Dissonant Democracy: Utopias, Dystopias, and Backsliding in Democratic Processes. After two years of holding an online IP week due to the Covid pandemic, it was finally possible to organise the IP of 2022 in person again.
Day 1 – Arrival in Krakow
The afternoon was spent dividing the students into groups for co-creation projects that took place during the whole week. The aim of the co-creation sessions was to provide feedback and think about what could be improved in the Euroculture programme and design and propose new ideas to the Consortium. Students came up with a variety of suggestions, such as how to improve the visibility of the programme or how to help non-EU students manage a visa.
There was a welcome social event in the evening full of ice-breaking activities which was organised by Krakow’s Euroculture students (as part of their ECII project) and also attended by Consortium staff.
In the morning, the students attended a keynote lecture about Co-Creation presented by Stella Toonen – researcher and consultant on democratic engagement practices between institutions and communities, followed by short project co-creation sessions.
One of the most important parts of the week took place in the afternoon when students presented their IP papers in their specific groups. The presentations were divided into two sessions of three hours.
In the morning, the students attended a lecture session about Participatory Democracy presented by representatives from the European Commission, Freie Universität Berlin and Citizens Foundation. The panel aimed to gather different perspectives on the potential, challenges and future prospects of democratic (citizen) participation. The second part of the IP paper sessions took place in the afternoon.
In the morning, IP paper groups met for the last time to receive feedback from their tutors, followed by a long co-creation session (of 5 hours) where students continued to work on their group projects.
After the group work, selected two students from each university (one from each semester) participated in a round table session with representatives of Consortium staff, where they provided feedback about their time spent with Euroculture (providing positive and negative feedback and suggestions on how to improve the programme).
The last keynote session took place in the morning under the title Democracy and Peace in Times of Dissonance. The speakers were Luke Cooper, a senior researcher of IDEAS, the London School of Economics’s in-house foreign policy think tank, Karol Kaczyński, peace journalist and communication strategist, and Yulia Kazdobina – the head of the Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies.
The afternoon was all about possible career paths after Euroculture, as students had the opportunity to attend a Career Day, which was organised in collaboration with Euroculturer and its Social Media team. The students could choose from four panels focused on different career paths that Euroculture alumni may head towards, introduced by various professionals sharing their work experience. Panels organised during the Career Day were: 1) Business and Entrepreneurship, 2) Culture, Arts, Civil Society and Media, 3) Diplomacy, Governance, and International Institutions, and 4) Research and Higher Education.
The day concluded with a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Euroculturer Magazine. This was a social event organised by Euroculturer members for all students and staff after the official IP programme of the day. There were various social activities and students had a great time, as you can see from the photographs! Such activities are a great opportunity to reunite with your classmates from the first semester.
We are excited to celebrate more anniversaries to come! Here you can view our special issue of the Euroculturer magazine created especially for our 10th anniversary.
The final day of the IP week was dedicated to the co-creation projects that were finalised during the morning and presented in front of all students and Consortium staff in the afternoon. Some of the projects are currently in further development and will be hopefully implemented in the upcoming months. You can look forward to another article that will discuss the working groups and co-creation process in more detail!
Afterwards, students prepared for the grand finale of the week, in the form of a great Gala Dinner in a restaurant. The gala was also an opportunity for the announcement of the best Master thesis of the previous Euroculture cohort.
Day 7: Saying Goodbye: the departure from Krakow
That is all for the first introductory issue of the new “In Focus: IP” series, focusing on providing essential information about the Euroculture Intensive Programme. In the following months, you can look forward to more pieces from us, that will focus on the specific components of the IP such as co-creation or social events activities and which will also include interviews with past Euroculture students.
Pictures credit: Euroculturer Magazine staff